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(50:39, ‘NXU Music’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Skunk 1:52 2. The Precarious Climb of a Future Trader 2:18 3. G-Man and the Guillotine Girl 3:16 4. No Child’s Left behind Sinfonietta 3:52 5. What’s Good for a Lark is Good for a Gander 2:22 6. Tango Fury 1:24 7. Lion of Judah 1:41 8. Music for Strings and Percussion 6:53 9. Harvesting the Junkyard of Frivolity 1:56 10. The Bohemian Grove Groove 2:41 11. Lucky Sevens 4:00 12. Ghost of Insects Past 3:32 13. Jazzercism 2:18 14. Martin Harry 3:44 15. Renard’s Recurring Reverie 2:50 16. A Kaleidoscopic Viewpoint 2:56 17. Fast & Bulbous 3:10 LINEUP: Chris Smith – guitars, bass; violin & other strings Warren Dale – keyboards; winds; mallets Chris Vincent – drums
Prolusion. TROIS EXPATRIATES is yet another project that brings together the talents of two American multi-instrumentalists and composers, Chris Smith and Warren Dale (of French TV and Trap fame, both of them). Following “Mother Earth” from 2009, which they released under the moniker of Beyond Infinity, “Conspiracy Weary” is their latest effort to date, issued in 2011 by Chris Smith’s own label NXU Music. It also features drummer Chris Vincent, with whom the men have played on “The Case against Art” by French TV, forming three fourths of the recording’s line-up.
Analysis. The album is comprised of seventeen tracks, the absolute majority of which range from one and a half to four minutes in length. Nevertheless, most of them embrace a few different styles. Although Beyond Infinity is a quintet, almost all of the instruments ‘from’ the band’s aforementioned release are presented here too (sans vocals, of course), Chris Smith handling bass in addition. The trio has well or rather properly used the studio possibilities, and while their newest creations are often as sonically saturated as those by a little orchestra, they sound natural in all cases – never as excessively multi-tracked. Since most of the tracks are partly-to-radically different from the others, I fear it is beyond my powers to examine them in detail, so I think I will limit myself to mentioning only their main, stylistic and compositional, aspects. As hinted above, this stuff normally stretches the boundaries of progressive rock music. At times it fuses three of the four basic genres of the idiom, namely Art-Rock, RIO and Jazz-Fusion, such as on G-Man and the Guillotine Girl, Harvesting the Junkyard of Frivolity and Renard’s Recurring Reverie, the ensemble moving smoothly through various sections in all cases. Sympho-prog and jazz-fusion arrangements are brought together on Skunk, Fast & Bulbous and Lucky Sevens, albeit the latter piece additionally reveals a full-blown progressive hard-rock move (somewhat reminiscent of Kansas, partly due to the violin work), while Tango Fury, Jazzercism and The Precarious Climb of a Future Trader all refer mainly to Chamber Rock/RIO – which, however, is uncommonly heavy on some occasions. Although the pieces are short, they are tightly structured, with clearly defined sections and transitions between them, focused on concise ensemble playing. Overall, Martin Harry and The Bohemian Grove Groove both can be labeled as world-fusion pieces, based on Asian and European traditional music respectively, albeit each of them additionally reveals some Robert Fripp-inspired soundscapes as well as frippertronics themselves, as also does Lion of Judah – almost throughout. Another guitar-based track, What’s Good for a Lark is Good for a Gander, involves an acoustic guitar (besides a few chamber instruments), at times reminding me of Steve Hackett’s orchestrated classical pieces – those from his 1997 and 2005 albums, “A Midsummer Night” and “Metamorpheus”, of course. Besides some of the styles that have been mentioned, the ones that are crucial to the album’s overall sound included, the remaining four tracks, A Kaleidoscopic Viewpoint, Ghost of Insects Past, No Child’s Left behind Sinfonietta and Music for Strings and Percussion, are each comprised of psychedelic, free-jazz, electronic and ethnic influences respectively, plus some spontaneously created stuff, which does not impress me, no matter that it never represents something totally chaotic. And while the former three pieces are, say, merely less cohesive in construction than the previously described compositions, the latter (6:53, the sole more or less long track here) is just a set of several different sketches.
Conclusion. While many of the ideas here are laced with experimentation, most of the tracks are full-fledged compositions, maintaining a strong artistic sensibility that fuses well different styles. I would have rated the album with six stars if at least the last-named piece had not been included.
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