ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Miller Twins - 2023 - "Early Compositions 1973-1976"

(81:50; Cuneiform Records)


When I first came across this, I misread the title and thought it was a collection of material recorded by multi-instrumentalist brothers Ben and Laurence Miller back in the day when they were performing with bands such as The Nova Mob, Fourth World Quartet, The Cruzonic Music Ensemble and others. Actually, what we have here are new recordings of songs they wrote and scored nearly 50 years ago. They both play numerous instruments on each track and form a full band all on their own, although they do have some guests and old colleagues involved here and there. Although there is little in the way of keyboards on this, the intricate use of horns immediately made me think of The Muffins and anyone who enjoys their style will find this immensely intriguing right from the off. This never sounds like just two people, but always a full band as we normally have bass, guitar and proper drums. This is even more remarkable when one realises there a few tracks where it is just Laurence, such as on “Makeshift Hub Cheeny” where he provides vocals, clarinets (Bb, alto, bass), organ, ‘air’ organ, bass, drums. Yes, he plays stringed instruments, keyboards, woodwind and percussion. The album is almost divided in two in that the first 12 songs are composed by Ben, are instrumental, and Ben takes a larger role in providing instrumentation, whereas this is flipped in the other 18 which also often contain vocals from Laurence. The result is not that of two different bands, but rather feels more like a collection of material from a band who have progressed over time. That we can go from a marching band feel to something which is full on big band jazz and then falling over into Zappa-esque and Beefheart territory is simply wonderful. The layers are always complex, and due to often being scored as opposed to improvised (although there is plenty of this as well), have dual melodies and harmonies. There is a lot going on, but it never feels overcrowded but rather that there is distinct thought which leads to decisions which have been considered, yet somehow also leaving room for flair. One can only hope that this trip down memory lane will lead to yet more releases from the duo in this format as this is a very enjoyable album indeed and anyone into RIO and Avant will find a great deal here to love. For fans of The Muffins and Henry Cow.

Progtector: February 2024

Related Links:

Cuneiform Records


ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages