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(40:08, ‘Information Superhighway’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Almost Morning 11:32 2. The Real Things 11:32 3. Soft and Not Knowing 3:27 4. This is Beginning 7:25 5. Your Voice-II 6:12 LINEUP: Rob Clearfield – keyboards, accordion; guitars; voice Leslie Beukelman – vocals; loops Patrick Mulcahy – bass John Smillie – drums With: Anthony Gravino – percussion
Prolusion. The US band INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY was formed back in 2005 and released its debut album "First Morning" the following year. 2009 saw the band members create their first-ever promotional video. "This Is Not the Ending" is the second full-length production by this act.
Analysis. I presume that quite a few people encountering the website of Information Superhighway these days drop by out of curiosity more than anything else, which is due to band leader Clearfield and bassist Mulcahy, both of whom enjoy a fair degree of success and attention as members of another outfit, namely District 97. Few events are as rare as a progressive rock outfit managing to get a fair deal of attention from the mainstream music press, first and foremost due to the involvement of former American Idol finalist Leslie Hunt in that particular project. With that bit of name-dropping out of the way, I imagine some will be curious as to what "the other band" of these fine musicians sounds like, a task that is rather challenging in this case. A common element throughout the five compositions explored on this production is jazz, mostly in a subtle manner admittedly, first and foremost due to the jazz-oriented delivery of drummer Smillie. The band does take something of a purebred jazz approach on occasion as well, best represented by the opening eight or so minutes on second track The Real Things, whose build-up from gentle piano and vocals only to a more refined soundscape with drums and guitars added in should find favor amongst jazz and fusion enthusiasts. This Is Beginning is a piece where a similar approach is applied for the early stages of the song, but the rest of this album is of a rather different nature. Opening number Almost Morning is a creation that will sit comfortably beside Radiohead's “Paranoid Android“ in the indie art rock department, while the previously described The Real Things has an end sequence that should find favor amongst most fans of what is generally described as post-rock, as will the final parts of This Is Beginning. Soft and Not Knowing is more of a mainstream-oriented ballad, albeit liberally flavored with jazz-tinged details. The final composition Your Voice-II heads out into a very different department altogether, a track that basically can be described as a country- and Americana-flavored ballad of a distinct mainstream orientation: a rather eclectic mix in other words, and one languishing on the outer borders of the art rock universe.
Conclusion. "This Is Not the Ending" is a well-made disc, where the jazz-tinged compositions in particular come across as impressive. Not quite in the magical department, but intriguing and innovative endeavors that sport a fair degree of innovation; well-mixed and -produced too, which is always a welcome part of any full album experience. Perhaps not of a kind that will appeal to a general prog rock audience, but those with an interest in jazz-tinged music with an indie and post-rock orientation should find plenty to enjoy.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 6, 2011
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