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(41:17; Temple of Switches)
TRACK LIST: 1. Melba 5:48 2. Pondering 6:01 3. Freon Suitcase 4:18 4. Living on the Edge 3:10 5. Don't Cry to Me 4:24 6. Curtains 3:00 7. Back Seat 5:36 8. Crusader 4:47 9. One for All 4:13 LINEUP: Tenk Van Dool -vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, programming with: Dale Wiser - vocals, bass David White - drums, percussion Clara Hembree - vocals Jim Chavez - vocals Kevin McConnell - vocals, keyboards Gaetano Nicolosi - drums
Prolusion. US project TEMPLE OF SWITCHES started out as a band back in 2012, but folded just after the release of their initial album. Composer and musician Tenk Van Dool kept the rights for the band name following this, and have released one EP and one full length album since then. The album "The Wind of the Mind" is the most recent of these, and was self released towards the end of 2020.
Analysis. Temple of Switches isn't your typical progressive rock band of course, as it is not strictly a band at this point, and the material crafted by Van Dool doesn't really fit neatly into any specific subcategory either. While there are common denominators throughout, the artist name Temple of Switches strikes me as fairly relevant in terms of the musical contents here. The two mainstays throughout are sections with an often subtle but distinct jazz flavoring applied to them, sometimes from bass and drums, on other occasions by way of the keyboards, and here and there we are treated to almost purebred jazz-oriented music too. The other red thread throughout, albeit perhaps on a slightly lesser note, are quirky, subtly atonal instrument details of the kind that always gives me associations towards King Crimson in general and Robert Fripp in particular. Here and there these two common denominators will meet up too of course, creating a loose and dreamladen atmosphere. There are other sides to this album too, with a couple of examples of material with a darker, more foreboding nature and spirit, relying more on classic heavy progressive rock idioms with perhaps a slight touch of Crimsonian elements for good measure, like on the striking opening cut 'Melba' - which for me was a clear highlight of this album. On a couple of occasions Van Dool dips his toes into metal territories as well, with a distinctly NWoBHM touch on select passages on the track 'Living on the Edge' and a more generic early 80's metal touch on key parts of the song 'Crusader'. With distinct lead vocals as a feature throughout, material that stretch across multiple genres and a mix and production good rather than great, this album is a mixed bag in many ways. For the right minded crowd this production will be a subtle revelation I gather, but my overall impression is that this is a creation that will appeal to more of a finite and limited crowd rather than one that will make a strong impact across the board. A pleasant encounter as far as my own taste in music is concerned, with a few highlights here and there, but for my specific taste in music nothing more than that. As I didn't note any inherent weak spots throughout this indicates to me that for this album this is all a matter of personal taste though. While some aspects of this album could have been given a more polished finish, ultimately I don't see that this would change my own perception one way or the other.
Conclusion. If you are the kind of person that tends to be fascinated by artists incorporating liberal amounts of jazz-tinged details into their material, and also opts for a fairly liberal use of quirky instrument features and arrangements of the kind a band like King Crimson is well known for, "The Wings of the Mind" is an album that you probably should put on your inspection list at some point. A niche production for a niche audience in my opinion, and a well made one at that. One of those albums where your personal taste in music will dictate whether you like it or not, and possibly to a stronger extent than for many other albums out there.
Progmessor: May 2021
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