[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(54:34, MoonJune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Sonic Riot at the Holy Palate 2:51 2. 15/05 5:37 3. Sheepwrecked 5:41 4. Acquiring the Taste 2:00 5. Lifting Belly 3:13 6. Malign Siesta 5:36 7. Theresa’s Dress 1:22 8. Rippling Stones 2:47 9. Theresa’s Dress Reprise 1:07 10. Strangler Fig 3:25 11. Waves & Radiations 3:21 12. Saturn 6:50 13. The Unbelievable Truth-I 5:44 14. The Unbelievable Truth-II 4:37 LINEUP: Michel Delville - guitar, guitar-synth; electronics Jean-Paul Estievenart - trumpet, flugelhorn Fred Delplancq - tenor sax; samples Damien Polard – bass; electronics Laurent Delchambre - drums, percussion; loops
Prolusion. Formed in 2002, THE WRONG OBJECT is a Belgian quintet which began their musical activity as a Frank Zappa tribute band, but in two years switched over to creating their own original repertoire. While Zappa covers potentially still remain part of their concert program (this is an actively gigging outfit), those are presently played exclusively on request. “Stories from the Shed” is the third full-fledged official release by The Wrong Object, though both its predecessors, “The Unbelievable Truth” and “Platform One”, are in fact the products of their collaborations with Elton Dean and Annie Whitehead, respectively. I’m a lucky possessor of the former creation, and the review can be read here.
Analysis. According to the CD booklet, all fourteen of these instrumental “Stories” were recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, which is in some ways beyond me, since four of the five musicians, the drummer included, are additionally heralded as providers of loops, samples and electronics. It’s not too easy to imagine how they’d manage to play their instruments and simultaneously fulfill other functions, but in any event the sound relatively often comes across as being more saturated than the one we usually expect from a quintet’s live performance. Well, I realize that many may find these observations not worth a bean, so I’d better exercise my right to use the proverb “The written word remains” and move further. As to the recording as such, most of it can generally be defined as a blend of composed and improvised music, which has a certain common ground with “The Unbelievable Truth”. On the other hand, however, here the doors are rarely opened for free-jazz impromptus, whilst the rock component as such, as well as the one belonging to what is widely acknowledged as the progressive rock genre, is more distinct, and the amount of avant-garde constructions is larger. Quite a few of the disc’s tracks begin with so-called guitar soundscapes, but only of them, Waves & Radiations, is made up exclusively of those, instantly bringing to mind Frippertronics: think either this specific technique as such or the substance of Robert Fripp’s album of the same name, which is the same in the end. The rest of the material can be divided into parts, at least approximately. Sonic Riot at the Holy Palate, Malign Siesta, Strangler Fig and The Unbelievable Truth-II all can sound slightly reminiscent of Soft Machine, King Crimson, Frank Zappa and Finnegans Wake, combining Jazz-Fusion with elements of RIO and MIO (Metal-In-Opposition, the term still seeming to be exclusively of Progressor’s property :-), though of these four, only Strangler Fig doesn’t need any additions to what’s been said in this sentence. Malign Siesta also contains one swingy move as well as a drum solo, while the opening track additionally stands out for some bright folk colorations, rooted in either Balkan or Gypsy traditional music, the corresponding movement appearing as a reprise at the very end of the last-named piece, i.e. as the recording’s curtain falls. The primary soloing instruments, layered on top of bass, drums and so to speak effects-laden guitar (when Michel Delville deploys his guitar synthesizer), are an electric guitar, tenor saxophone and trumpet, though the bass quite frequently leaves its post at the bottom end so as to burst out at the fore as another lead voice. Working through a writhing evolution, providing the best balance between composition and improvisation, aggressive energy and mellowness, melody and countermelody and so on, these four are all standouts and are my personal favorites. However, there are three more tracks here that are, overall, worthy of the same epithet. 15/05, Lifting Belly and The Unbelievable Truth-I all would have wholly suited the aforesaid idiom had they featured any metalloids, though these are also somewhat richer in improvisational explosions as well as unison leads, all of which still come mainly on the part of brass instruments. The only unoriginal track in the set is Acquiring the Taste from Gentle Giant’s eponymous album, or rather its interpretation, the original appearing to be changed completely beyond recognition. Despite the absence of brass instruments on this piece, its stylistic cognation with the remaining five ones, Sheepwrecked, Saturn, Theresa’s Dress, Rippling Stones and Theresa’s Dress Reprise, is obvious. Although eclectic in places, all these are by and large relatively atmospheric, unhurriedly developing and so fairly transparent compositions, reminding me slightly of the mellower side of Gong’s Space Fusion, circa “You” and “Shamal”, with occasional avant-garde Zappa-like guitar histrionics as well as, again, frippertronics.
Conclusion. More contrasting in content than “The Unbelievable Truth” (which by the way recently almost topped my personal 2007 chart), “Stories from the Shed” has its stronger and weaker sides, compared to that earlier effort. While not a complete masterwork, this is overall an excellent creation that demands repeated plays to be comprehended and thus will be a dainty dish for anyone with a strong interest in advanced progressive rock music.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 28, 2008
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]