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Mark I (USA) - 2001 - "Absolute Zero"
(53 min, "Breathe 001CD")
Through the Looking Glass 7:32 Again And Again 4:34 Oscar the Office Supply Thief 6:08 Exodus 4:46 The Mind Eraser 7:01 Ultramodern Blues 4:26 Easy Way Out 2:42 Showdown 3:44 Identity Crisis 4:25 Meltdown 9:32
All music and lyrics written by Mark I. Arranged and produced by Mark I. Engineered by C.Molinski at the "Briar Patch" studio, Gloucester, between July and December 2000.
Line-up: Kyle Jones - lead vocals, keyboards, bass; Chris Molinski - drums & percussion, vocals, programming; Robert Difazio - electric guitar, vocals
Prologue. These American guys are very young (at least they look like schoolboys), but the ambitions they have look seriously already now. So I won't make any allowance for their age in the review of their debut album, especially since the guys themselves let me know they're ready to accept any criticism as a matter of course (i.e. to be cursed if they really deserve it) already in advance - just after they sent me their material. Frankly, I've met such brave guys, but musicians with an ideology this right, for the first time, though I mounted the guard of ProgressoR - the Battle Station On the Virtual Rock Front - two and a half year ago, on October the 1st of 1998.
The album. In the covering letter to their debut CD "Absolute Zero" the guys of Mark I characterize their music as "Ultramodern Rock with echoes of such giants as Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd". To me, things become really clear just after a few listens to the album. I don't find in the music of Mark I any more or less obvious 'echoes' of Yes and Pink Floyd, but then I've found a distant echo (that the guys didn't listed yet) of Michael Jackson - in lead vocals parts and in vocal harmonies (as well) on the two first tracks - 'Through the Looking Glass' and 'Again and Again'. And both the last compositions on the album more than just 'confirm' what the guys mentioned as Genesis echoes. The ninth track Identity Crisis was composed the way typical for Genesis circa "Duke", including very Banks-alike solos (not so virtuosic, though) and all the vocal lines (but excluding vocal tones that don't remind of Gabriel's or Collins's). Meltdown, the last track, contains just keyboard solos a-la Banks, whereas all the other structures are the same that feature all previous tracks - from the first to the eighth, and these are quite original and even innovative in some ways structures. Also, beginning with the third track any vocal similarities with Jackson are "missed" and up to the eighth one. Asking myself, why have the guys decided to place their truly original songs in the middle of the album - between not too successful "introduction" (to their music!) and "conclusion", I find that their problem is typical for most of the beginners in general. Trying to go a few different ways on their very first ProGduction, actually these talented boys are just still on the way to find the final form of their music. All the middle 6 songs of "Absolute Zero" are just excellent examples of (not too complex, but) original, on the whole, Art Rock with some really innovative ideas. All these 6 songs were composed and performed in united stylistics, that actually shows that the guys go their own way in terms of style already on the debut album.
Summary. Thus, routinely developing their compositional and (especially) +performing craftsmanship on the basement of the middle part of "Absolute Zero", the band will probably be able to reach a 'major' cult status within the Progressive Rock movement already in a few years. But currently, if drummer Chris Molinski is positively amazing on the album, both his colleagues Kyle Jones and Robert Difazio keep pace with precision, but without any virtousity, to put it mildly. Also I guess, being in the current formation of trio, Mark I is not able at all to play live. But, I'd earnestly recommend the Mark I trio would become at least a quartet with a free bass guitar player not only in this connection, of course.
VM. March 21, 2001
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