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(37:11, ‘Groovestand Compendium Music’)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Thousand Years 4:00 2. Wait 3:43 3. Alabaster 3:58 4. Should Have Known 2:52 5. Bardo-1 1:38 6. The Road to Sto-Vo-Kor 3:08 7. Bardo-2 1:47 8. Report from Ganymede 4:00 9. Paramatman 3:59 10. Bardo-3 2:31 11. Perihelion 4:00 12. Bardo-4 1:35 LINEUP: Stephen Rockford Hammond – vocals; guitars Brett Hammond – guitars Jason Schond – basses Adam Dennis – drums
Prolusion. The US band FROSKULL was formed in 2012 as a direct continuation and the developed version of the formation previously known as Stephen Rockford Hammond Band. Their self-titled debut album dates back to 2014, and was released through the band leader Stephen Hammond's own label.
Analysis. While not quite unique, there aren't too many progressive rock bands based out of Nashville, Tennesse, a city rather more well known for a fairly different kind of music altogether. Froskull is self-described as Nashville's premier and leading band as far as progressive rock goes, and appears to have shared a stage with quite a few notable artists in their relatively brief existence so far. Their brand of progressive rock is an expressive one, that's for sure. The four-part series of Bardo compositions spread unevenly throughout the album; perhaps the most peculiar material at hand, electronics and effects dominated songs and experiments with a distinct futuristic sheen to them, rather different to the other songs on this CD. As for the main part of the material, finding a good starting point is something of a challenge. Short compositions all of them, the longest tracks clock in at a mere 4 minutes in length, but all of them are quirky and fairly challenging affairs. Style, pace and intensity twist and turn, and if one cannot describe them as multi-sectional as such, then at least one can state that they tend to contain multiple details in the arrangements. The acoustic guitar is a key instrument, adding a gentler touch, as well as a touch of Americana to the proceedings. Hard-edged guitars come and go, occasionally with a more metal-oriented twist, and the guitar soloing ranges from elegant and melodic to shred-oriented in style and intensity. Layered keyboards, organs and electronic effects have their place here, too, as do layered vocal harmonies and arrangements. The structure and quirkiness of the songs made me think of Frank Zappa actually, albeit more in terms of approach than general or specific style, and the Americana-flavored sound and the manner in which many songs actually developed gave me associations to jam bands such as Uhmphrey’s McGee. There's also a certain indie and alternative rock vibe to the proceedings, while some of the more playful vocal arrangements made me think of Yes and Gentle Giant. The end results aren't always as impressive as the name dropping might imply, of course, but there's no doubt about this being a band that wants to be creative and adventurous, honing in on progressive rock principles, even if exploring a total sound that may perhaps be somewhat alien to progressive rock fans, at least to those with their heart and souls firmly placed in the ‘70s.
Conclusion. Quirky, challenging and rather adventurous progressive rock of a contemporary nature is what Froskull provides us with on their self-titled debut album, a short and compact 12-song affair that should appeal to those who enjoy a band that appears to blend challenging escapades with compelling features. If Frank Zappa and Uhmphreys McGee had ever teamed up, music not too unlike this might have been the end result. If that sounds like a compelling description, this is a band you perhaps might want to investigate further.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 16, 2015
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