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Tracklist: 1. The Criminal Element 9:08 2. Another Commercial Casualty 4:25 3. Captain Labrador's Unceremonious Disengagement 0:51 4. The Raven 9:23 5. I Want to Go To the Fucking Zoo! 3:06 6. The Life 5:49 7. On the Run 3:30 All music written, arranged, & produced by Mark I. Lyrics by K. Jones. Line-up: Kyle Jones - keyboards, lead vocals Bobby Difazio - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars, voices Chris Molinski - drums & percussion, voices Recorded & mixed by C. Molinski & B. Difazio at the Briar Parch, Gloucester, USA. Mastered by Chris Blair at "Abbey Road", London, UK.
Prologue. This is the second album by the young American progsters Mark 1. What's more, both of their albums were released during this year. While I am going to tell you about "The Criminal Element" in the band's creation, click here to read the review on the debut Mark I album "Absolute Zero".
The Album. It's amazing to hear on the new Mark I album an absolutely different vocal from the same singer Kyle Jones, no matter that he often sings here not unlike Peter Gabriel. It's astonishing to know that, unlike "Absolute Zero", the band's new album was created within the frame of a unified stylistics, no matter that the music here is rather influenced by the early-to-mid Genesis. Mark I are by no means the poor, derivative imitators of great bands such as Twin Age, Crucible, Grey Lady Down, and many, many others. The presence of lots of their own original ideas in the music of Mark I ranks them on par with such true followers of the golden testaments of Genesis as Marillion, Ezra Winston, and Xitizen Cain (on "Raising the Stones"). The music on "The Criminal Element" is highly complex and it is more than hard to get into it quickly. Excluding a very short track 3 - a song which is stylized for the old-fashion chanson, all of the songs on the album, no matter whether they're long or relatively short, represent the non-stop development of wonderfully diverse, complex and intriguing vocal and instrumental arrangements. The latter, based on the tireless and very tasteful quirky solos, passages, and interplay between electric, acoustic, and bass guitars and varied keyboards works incredibly intensive throughout the album, no matter if Kyle is singing or silent at the moment. The latter details mean nothing else but that "The Criminal Element" is the album of the Classic (Symphonic) Art Rock genre and has nothing to do with the negative (on the whole) label Neo. Changes of tempos, themes, and musical dimensions on the album are often truly kaleidoscopic, which makes its level of complexity much closer to the same parameter of early Genesis than any of Ezra Winston and Marillion albums (except for "Brave"). In my view, there is nothing criminal in having the 'alien' elements in any music if there are enough real originality and creativity. As I said, there are lots of original and even innovative ideas on "The Criminal Element", while especially impressive are parts with the atonal drumming and (kind of) jazzy piano passages, as well as most of the electric guitar solos, no matter whether they go slow or fast. Classical acoustic guitar passages, working throughout Another Commercial Casualty (track 2), are as diverse and tasteful as the best acoustic pieces by Steve Howe and Steve Hackett.
Summary. This is a very honest review, no matter that lots of "no matter" were used in the process of writing it. As always, you act wisely and don't spend your time on searching for the tautologies in my reviews, but getting from them the more or less clear ideas of UPO (Ulterior Progressive Objects) that are featured in most of the musical works that I write about. Although Mark One's passion, whose name is Genesis, is even more evident here than on the debut album, "The Criminal Element" shows a giant step forward in comparison with "Absolute Zero". What's especially wonderful, these very young musicians took it in just several months after the latter album was released. In my honest opinion, Mark I is probably the brightest hope of the further development of Progressive Rock in the new millennium.
P.S.: Address to my brothers and sisters in the 'prog' pen: Please stop using the word "clone" regarding the poor imitators of their idols! Don't forget that a clone is by all means equal to the original - remember the sheep Dolly. With respect to the said terms, read the "Clones, Clowns, Strangetudes" (i.e. strange etudes) review (if you wish).
VM. December 19, 2001
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