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(45:42, ‘The Twenty Committee’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Introduction 1:49 2. How Wonderful 7:03 3. Her Voice 10:08 4. Airtight 5:13 The Knowledge Enterprise: 5. Overture 3:19 6. Conceivers and Deceivers 4:53 7. Tonight 6:22 8. With These Eyes 5:29 9. Finale 1:26 LINEUP: Geoffrey Langley – vocals; keyboards Justin Carlton – vocals; guitars Richmond Carlton – basses; harp Joe Henderson – vocals’ drums Steve Kostas – guitars
Prolusion. The US band THE TWENTY COMMITTEE was assembled by Geoffrey Langley in 2012, as he needed a band that could perform some of the more demanding material he had made. Some months and many recording sessions later The Twenty Committee launched their debut album "A Lifeblood Psalm", opting for April 1, 2013, to be the official release date.
Analysis. The band’s own self description of their material as "zany prog tunes" may promise a bit more than this fine band can deliver. For an avid fan of progressive rock the material is anything but just that I'd say, but if you approach this album without many prior references to this type of music I guess some would indeed employ such a description. What is common for those with a decade or two of intent listening to progressive rock isn't at all as everyday like to someone who isn't that familiar with this genre after all. The bread and butter of this album can be summed up in three words: vocals, piano and acoustic guitar. Distinct, melodic lead vocals of the highest quality is the most noticeable aspect of this band's repertoire, Geoffry Langley ranks among the better vocalists I've come across since I started writing about music several years back. His vocals elevate the total experience quite nicely, and with vocal support from Carlton and Henderson we're treated to some nice vocal harmonies too. Many of the compositions otherwise revolve around a key motif provided by acoustic guitar and piano in elegant, harmonic combination. Sometimes as the key element running throughout, at other times with more occasional occurrences. I get a strong impression that the greater majority of the material has been worked out on either piano or acoustic guitar, and as Langley is a keyboardist I presume the former might be the most important one in that context. Supplementing these core elements we have darker toned guitar riffs, as contrasting textures or as harder edged arrangement details, elegant guitar solo details, smooth keyboard and organ textures, and a nice array of elongated solo excursions by guitar and and tangents both. An additional, occasional detail is string arrangements, producing a nice art rock touch to the proceedings. The compositions tend to alternate between frail and delicate passages and sequences of a more refined and sophisticated nature. Quite a few symphonic inspired passages, but only on occasion touching into what might be described as symphonic progressive rock I guess. Instead there's a general tendency here to stick to material that incorporates mainstream into an art rock framework, or vice versa, with strong, distinct and accessible melodies featuring subtle, quirky instrumental details, while the compositional structure is more sophisticated with ebbs, flows and alterations in pace and intensity aplenty. Only rarely in a manner that can be described as challenging admittedly, although epic-length Her Voice has an elongated instrumental section in the middle part that actually justifies a description as just that. On a select few occasions there's also room for some nice post rock inspired textured guitar details, and somewhat more frequently there's also room for inserts sporting more of an Americana oriented sound. And related to the latter I'd generally say that The Twenty Committee comes across as a very US sounding band, with a nuance or two from the likes of Kansas and Spock’s Beard appearing here and there, but most of all, and perhaps mostly because there are certain distinct praise and worship music associations in here, Neal Morse is an artist I'd suspect is a major influence on this band.
Conclusion. "A Lifeblood Psalm" is an elegant and engaging debut album by The Twenty Committee. Distinct, elegant arrangements with an emphasis on melodies and harmonies, mainstream oriented escapades is a likely description and general first impression, but with quite a few nifty, quirky details simmering beneath the surface. There is a touch of Kansas and Spocks Beard to this material, and quite a lot more of Neal Morse, and those who have an affection for the solo albums of the latter should be a likely key audience for this production.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 15, 2014
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