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John Doe Number One 20:22 Escape 13:36 Proximity 12:58 Call To Whoever 17:41
All material written & produced by Thieves' Kitchen. Recorded, engineered & mixed by P. Mercy at "High Street" studios, England: January - March 2001.
Line-up: Mark Robotham - drums; Phil Mercy - electric & acoustic guitars; Simon Boys - lead vocals; Wolfgang Kindl - keyboards, backing vocals; Andy Bonham (newcomer) - bass. With: Paul Beecham - oboe.
Visit the band's web-site at:
Prologue. I just finished to review the Clear Blue Sky's and Tantalus (both are UK bands) latest albums, as well as an article of their label "Hi-Note" located (of course!) in England, too. So it seems now's the time to think seriously once again of the renaissance of British Progressive Music whose source originates exactly from the threshold of the new millenium. Being the dweller on the threshold of the new millenium too, I ask myself (regarding a powerful rise of the UK's serious Prog) - is it a Sign? Because Thieves' Kitchen with their two strong albums (composed, performed, recorded and released at the earliest possible date, as well as it was in those good, old'n'gold 1970s) - are undoubtedly going under the same banner of the Reincarnation of British profound Progressive - together with those (so far a few) Hi-Note's performers whose music I heard.
The Album. So, "Argot" is the second Thieves' Kitchen album (the first one was released about a year ago and my review on it is here, and now I want to say what I have to say just in the Summary of the review (as it has always been before). Well, all in all, it doesn't matter so … Well, while the band's debut album "Head" with its five and a half rating stars is, in my view, almost a masterpiece, "Argot" is not just a step forward: this is a real masterpiece whose appearance on British and International Progressive scenes I regard as a very important event that reflects that a 'profound' Progressive movement in the UK goes on. Consisting of only four tracks, two of which are the so called 'side long' pieces, Thieves' Kitchen's "Argot" actually contains no less than 40 (and quite diverse, by the way) songs that most of the Neo bands would be happy to include in their '4 future albums'. It's wonderful to know that these young 'Thieves don't steal anything from anyone. On the contrary, they were able to create their own, distinctly original style, already on the debut album. "Argot" has a firm, clear Thieves' Kitchen's sound yet no theme here will remind you of "Head". Usually, such a categorically different approach to creating (composing, performing and producing) any new material was a 'privilege of the Titans' and other truly Major Names of Rock Music. So it is really pleasant to hear how wise (at least musically) these relatively very young musicians are since they work in a masterly fashion being just in the beginning of their (hopefully, long and fruitful) musical career. I won't describe any track on "Argot" since you already have an idea of my opinion on this album. I'll just add that any of the four tracks featured is a pure masterpiece, even taken separately. The few episodes with oboe passages, being involved in always wonderful joint instrumental arrangements the most proper (just beautiful!) way, add new, very tasteful, refined and rich colours to an overall musical palette on "Argot".
Summary. While the band's own description of the style they work in (if shortly) is a mix of Classic Progressive and Fusion, I find in Thieves' Kitchen's music approximately as many elements of real Progressive Metal as (just) Fusion-alike sounding guitar solos. The origin of strong and diverse guitar riffs Phil demonstrates from time to time (yet the album throughout) is obvious, whereas the factual origin of his intricate, virtuosic and original, after all, pseudo fusion solos for many 'traditional' (classic) Prog-lovers won't be as clear as previous one. It is because Phil is one of, maybe, just few guitarists who can compose (according to the laws of Classical Harmony, not of jazzy) solos that, however, sound like amazing improvisations. So this unique band's music blends together all the three 'chief' genres of Progressive Rock: Classic Art Rock (or Symphonic Progressive, if you wish), Prog Metal, and Jazz Fusion (in progressive, not jazzy, sense of the latter word which does mean a blend, mixture, etc of Jazz with other Progressive genres). Also, recalling Mark's old band, now I sincerely congratulate him on the right choice he made kicking off like some old socks those Neo wannabees Grey Lady Down and forming (at least joining, doesn't matter) such a wonderful, truly Progressive unit as Thieves' Kitchen. This band is now able to kick serious ass not only of some wannabees, but to become one of the leading British Prog-acts in the new millenium.
VM. May 15, 2001
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