By rights, I should hate every lovingly-crafted second of this recording. Phrases like over-blown, self-important and 'Too many notes, Beethoven' should be scattered across a bile-fired review guaranteed to generate even more hate-mail than the last one. But that's not going to happen.
Allow me to explain: My musical Year Zero was 1977. I dig the Pistols and Joy Division and Gang of Four and Severed Heads. Pink Floyd, yes Marillion and their bloated prog-rock public-schoolboy chums, are examples of all that is/was ugly and wrong with The Music Industry. The fact that P-F can still sell records is something I find seriously depressing.
So we find Braindance. Songs of vast scope that seem to have a minimum of three tunes each, guitar solos - lots of them - that the metal mags would call 'pyrotechnic,' majestic and orchestral synth pads, chorused-to-death acoustic guitar... It's prime-grade, 100% authentic prog-goth. The sort of stuff we fought the punk rock wars against. And...I really rather like the blasted thing. I wish I knew why.
I suspect it's because there's a sense of humour mixed in with the fine songwriting. I hope. If the creators are deadly serious and have thrown in nods to various subsets of dance-culture as a calculated plan to appeal to as broad a market-base as possible, then I shall be Very Annoyed.
Nevertheless, the breakbeats and squitty drum & bass snare-rolls are dropped in where you would least expect. And they keep doing it. Song after multi-layered song telegraphs some prog-rock cliche and then subverts it so I burst into delighted laughter rather than cringeing. Example: Resilience starts with spooky synths, a choir and a tolling bell and builds up toward a rising guitar-solo that launches the song upward into... The despairing noise you get when someone turns off the power to the record-deck. This is the first time for a long while that I've wanted to go meet a band to find out what on earth is going on in their heads. It's most unnerving.
The following track, Requiem, doesn't fare quite so well. As anyone who's heard Apollo 440's take on Don't Fear the Reaper it's hard to map this sort of rock onto techno. The end result often doesn't gel because the two forms rock in different manners. But, if I can only find something to whine about in the first half of one track out of ten, I think we can consider the whole to be a bit of a result. Oh, all the tracks begin with 'R', which is a courageous decision, and there are more mad samples than you can shake several sticks at artfully scattered throughout.
Post: Braindance, c/o Progressive Darkwave Recordings, 215 Thompson St., Suite 11, New York, NY, 10012
Telephone: (212) 529-8034