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Tracklist: 1. Busy 7:03 2. Present 3:35 3. Peace 5:45 4. Meet Me Where I Am Today 5:41 5. Panic 4:28 6. Is There Anywhere 5:02 7. Regards 5:11 8. Ultimate Unity 4:09 9. The Last World 6:12 All music: by Last Laugh; all lyrics: by Stene. Line-up: Stene - bass; lead vocals Wallin - guitars; vocals T-Mox - drums & percussion Ostnytt - saz With: Malin - keyboard effects Produced by Last Laugh, Pelle Seather, & Lars Linden. Engineered by P. Seather & L. Linden at "Studio Underground". Mastered at "Tonteknik Recording", Sweden.
Prologue. "Meet Us Where We Are Today" is the debut album by Last Laugh, which was released by Sweden's premier Classic Rock label "Record Heaven" four years ago. Unfortunately, the band's collaboration with the label ended in 1999. So it's the right time to review Last Laugh's debut album, as the band has recently mastered their second CD and is now looking for a new record deal.
The Album. If you regard the music that is present on King Crimson's "Starless & Bible Black" and "Red" albums as a unique and highly eclectic blend of Classic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, I will agree with you absolutely. The debut Last Laugh album is, overall, of the same stylistics and more. Despite the fact that Last Laugh's music is completely original and in many ways innovative (though, in some ways exactly because of that), it has a common ground with that of King Crimson of the said period. Don't worry, Last Laugh are not Anekdoten, and you won't find on this album any soloing instrumental and vocal parts, as well as arrangements in general, that would even remotely remind you of those of King Crimson and any of the Four of that line-up of the band. In other words, the existence of parallels that could be drawn between the music of both of these bands is, marvelously, both impossible and workable - like in a geometric world of Lobatchevsky where parallels can easily cross each other. The originality, eclecticism, and hypnotism - these are the key words to describe the music that is presented on "Meet Us Where We Are Today" generally. The instrumental arrangements are intensive throughout the album, and continuous contrasts between them and the parts of vocals, all of which are diverse, yet, overall, of a dramatically lazy (huh) character, are one of the hallmarks here as well. Most of the instrumental arrangements on the album are highly sophisticated, and some of them are marked with that indescribable magic, with which most (if not all) of us are familiar thanks, above all, to the best musical works released in the heyday of Progressive's glory. Varied, and often, atonal interplay between two and, sometimes, a few of the moves and solos of electric guitar (most of which, were, of course, overdubbed) and those of bass, many of which are really unique, play a prominent role in the arrangements throughout the album. (I don't know what saz (see line-up) means in Swedish, but in our republic, one of the Uzbek national guitar-like instruments is called exactly saz. So, maybe, I hear varied interplay between guitar and saz throughout the album, and not those between overdubbed solos of guitar?) Now, I must mention that the solos of bass guitar and those of electric and semi-acoustic guitar (or saz?) are here equally inventive, masterful, and intricate. The parts of drums and hand percussion are very diverse and, often, rather unusual as well. The frequent and unexpected changes of musical directions, complex stop-to-play movements, and the use of odd measures are also the bright features of this album. The alternation of hard and mild musical textures, most of which are different among themselves, is typical for all three of the first songs on the album: Busy, Present, and Peace, that, stylistically, represent a well-balanced amalgam of Classic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. (Here, I use the word "Classic" just to denote that this is a really complex music, though, in fact, this original music has just a little to do with a traditionally classic Progressive.) All three of the following compositions, namely Meet Me Where I Am Today, Panic, and Is There Anywhere, contain the less number of heavy elements than any of the previous tracks, though all of them are still about the blend that I was just talking about. The stylistics of the music that is featured on Regards and the last song on the album, The Last Word, (7 & 9), can't be defined differently than Classic Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal. While the remaining track, Ultimate Unity (8), does not feature any heaviness at all. These three songs are noticeably different (and by many of the compositional and performance parameters) from all six of the previous tracks and, especially, from the first three of them. Once again, I've just recalled that the contents of both of the aforementioned albums by King Crimson were also rather mixed.
Summary. The debut Last Laugh album can be considered as one of the strongest and most ambitious debuts of the contemporary progressive scene (I imply the last five years, at least). So I can only wonder why it passed unnoticed at the time when it was released. Though perhaps it happened because of Record Heaven's growing activity was then not that evident. In any case, I highly recommend "Meet Us Where We Are Today". Most of the 'classic' connoisseurs of genre (excluding those who're exclusively into the keyboard-based Prog) and the most open-minded lovers of Prog-Metal should be simply amazed with this album, which, though, needs several listens to get into.
VM. October 1, 2002
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