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(50:12, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Number 16 4:17 2. War 4:50 3. Listen Up 4:18 4. Judgement Day 3:51 5. Rolling Along 6. Saturdays Gone 4:27 7. Must Have Been the Future 5:07 8. Baby Come Back 2:59 9. Voyager 4:04 10. Write 5:02 11. Goodbye 8:02 LINEUP: Peter Matuchniak – guitar; keyboards Michael Eager – vocals; guitar Paul Sheriff - drums Jim DeBaun – bass With: David Gilman – violin; sax, flute (1, 3, 8, 10, 11) Tali Azerad – vocals (5, 6)
Prolusion. EVOLVE IV is a multinational band-project spearheaded by musicians Peter Matuchniak from the UK and Michael Eager from the US, who got in touch by means of internet ads by musicians looking for people who wanted to make the same sort of music as themselves. Indeed, the whole band was assembled in this manner, but the two mentioned are the initiators and main songwriters of this project, at least so far. They were signed by US label Progrock Records in 2008, which subsequently released their debut album, "Decadent Light", and a new production is already in the making with a planned 2009 release.
Analysis. Evolve IV separates themselves from many other acts active in the progressive rock scene these days, and not because of the way they were formed. Their stated influences, although containing familiar names like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd, also include an act like Grateful Dead. And while the first three stated influences may be a tad hard to track on this creation, this latter one should be more easily found I'd imagine. Even so, there are other bands I would compare this outfit with, mainly due to me not being overly familiar with this stated influence myself. What is certain is that we're dealing with the lighter side of progressive music here. Light in expression more than complexity though, and with a band exploring minute, quirky details rather than grandiose, structurally challenging compositions. Guitars are the dominant and driving instruments from start to finish of this creation. And in this particular case we're dealing with clean, undistorted guitars and wandering guitar lines, mellow guitar licks and acoustic guitars make up most of the content of the compositions. The songwriters opt for the use of multilayered guitars through and through, varying between having two equally dominant guitar themes exploring to create melodic yet complex landscapes with lots of details in some songs while utilizing one dominant guitar layer in other tracks, with one or two additional layers given supporting roles to add nuances, minor details or fragmented, dramatic bursts. Distorted guitar riffs are utilized as effects on a few occasions, but in all instances these are subdued and placed back in the mix, adding darker textures to the overall sound but never getting close to a dominant role in the explorations. As for the guitar soloings, they share many of the same traits as described above, with clean, undistorted guitars being the most used choice also for this part of the compositions, with the band just as often opting for the use of melodic passages rather than standard guitar soloing. There are a few instances of the latter though, also some with the normal hard rock-tinged leanings. On top of the layered guitar explorations, the voice of Michael Eager soars, delivering verses and chorus sections with ease. He's got a strong and pleasant voice, ideally suited for this brand of music, with a manner of intonation that somehow makes me think of the style of music coined Country, which brings me back to influences and comparisons for this creation. The guitar explorations often made me think of Canadian outfit Rush in manner, while the stylistic side of it reminded me more of a band like Man, like they sounded in the mid ‘70s. For this latter similarity wandering, light guitar patterns as well as at times distinct leanings towards country rock gave me this association, while quirky details common throughout this production made me think of the former act here. To get a more complete understanding of this creation one other element needs to be mentioned, which is the use of elements from jazz and fusion. Jazz-tinged rhythms and guitar patterns make regular appearances in quite a few songs, and the use of saxophone is also done with leanings in the same musical direction. This is a well made and well performed creation, but personally I found it to be too slick and polished. The compositions themselves indulge in minor technical details in terms of variety rather than the use of innovative explorations; there are few contrasting elements, and the melodies, while pleasant, aren't engaging enough to really make me lose myself in the songs. Good musicians and performances, but somewhat lacking in the compositional department as I see it.
Conclusion. This light, melodic yet rather complex variety of progressive rock with leanings towards country rock and fusion is one I surmise may appeal to fans of the Grateful Dead and Man. The band states that more recent outfits like Coldplay and Radiohead are other influences worth mentioning, and although many of their fans might find some aspects of this album not quite to their liking I suspect a fair share of their followers might take an interest in this production as well.
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