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Thank You Scientist - 2012 - "Maps of Non-Existent Places"

(58:18, TYS)


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TRACK LIST:

1.  Prelude 1:11
2.  A Salesman's Guide to Nonexistence 5:02
3.  Feed the Horses 6:26
4.  Blood on the Radio 9:22
5.  Absentee 5:59
6.  Suspicious Waveforms 6:31
7.  Carnival 6:31
8.  Concrete Swan Dive 5:47
9.  In the Company of Worms 5:46
10. My Famed Disappearing Act 5:43

LINEUP:

Salvatore Marrano  vocals 
Tom Monda  guitars; cello; vocals
Russell Lynch  violin, viola mandolin; vocals
Andrew Digrius  trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone 
Ellis Jasenovic  saxophone 
Greg Colacino  bass 
Odin Alvarez  drums  

Prolusion. The US act THANK YOU SCIENTIST is a relatively fresh addition to the progressive rock universe. They started making their presence an official one around 2009, released their first EP in 2011, and 2012 saw them launch their full length debut album "Maps of Non-Existent Places". And as is more and more common these days the band opted for a self-released production.

Analysis. The 7 musicians that make out this band will without doubt make a distinct first impression upon the unwary listener. Besides fairly complex arrangements with a lot of instrument details active at just about any given time, there's also a constantly shifting and developing movement in their compositions. Fairly quirky and utilizing a combination of stylistic details that merit a description as innovative. Many will most likely feel a strong appeal and a certain sense of wonder in discovering a sound and approach as hard to define as what this crew of musicians create, the novelty factor alone will make this one a mesmerizing encounter for quite a few. But this is a production with more staying power to it than just that part of the greater whole, and in sum this is an album that easily deserves a description as a high quality debut album also when you get the chance to become more familiar with it. I'll readily admit that this is one of the albums that have come my way that in a perfect world should have been inspected in more detail than what my time and schedule has room for. It's not at all an easy creation to describe or place within a musical context either. But I'll climb out on a limb a bit and state that I find it likely that jazz rock is probably at the core of the proceedings here. Not because there's that many core thematic foundations referring to that style, nor due to extensive use of typically jazz-oriented dominating themes or textures, but merely due to some recurring elements. Hardly a second goes by without brass of some kind or other wandering on top of the otherwise somewhat chaotic arrangements, more often than not its brass as in plural rather than singular too. Rather jazz rock oriented, or perhaps brass rock might be a more ample description for this part of the soundscape. In addition funky guitar motifs with at least half a foot set in 70's jazz rock is a detail fairly often used, albeit not that often given a dominant role or utilized extensively. But as far as identity markers go these two details define some of the more characteristic parts of the sound explored by Thank You Scientist, and those who really love music of this kind will love the elongated workout whose details are given on the instrumental piece Suspicious Waveforms. Dedicated jazz rock aficionados might find the rest of this disc a tad more suspicious however. As the majority of the arrangements, and more often than not catering for all the dominating parts of the compositions, are instrument performances of a very different character. Staccato, light toned and gently distorted guitar licks and riffs, swirling and intense guitar movements, hammering and at times intense hammering riffs and rhythms combining in machine-gun like bursts. Gentler, textured guitar motifs also have their place, as does quirky, ever changing guitar dominated themes in general. More often than not with an energetic bass guitar and busy drum rolls as a solid presence beneath. Fans of bands like The Mars Volta will find plenty of familiar elements, and I thought, I came across a few nods in the direction of Radiohead along the way as well. And I suspect that these guys may be rather familiar with Led Zeppelin too. All of this and more combines into fairly energetic, shifting and quirky creations, unpredictable in nature, often fairly chaotic in construction, with a great plethora of elements to keep track on. Avid listeners will find plenty to discover on this album, and I suspect few will manage to get a really distinct impression and recollection prior to approaching a dozen or so of careful inspections. The one element that most will enjoy and notice straight away is the lead vocals however. In Salvatore Marrano Thank You Scientist has a skilled, competent and distinct singer, one of those lead vocalists that is a purebred pleasure to listen to from start to finish. His delivery and choice of tonal range are impeccable throughout, a vocalist whose mere presence in itself elevates the songs to a somewhat higher level of interest.

Conclusion. Thank You Scientist is a band that should be a Godsend to those who enjoy music with an innovative spirit and approach. Their compositions venture out into territories rarely visited by others, if at all, and while they utilize a great variety of details in compositions and performance alike most would regard as not really a part of the progressive rock universe, the greater picture and overall context of this material is placed rather firmly at the core of it. at minimum in terms of approach. A band to seek out by those who tend to enjoy music of a fairly innovative nature, and if you like jazz rock and music that can be compared to the likes of The Mars Volta both I suspect that Thank You Scientist's "Maps of Non-Existent Places" will be a treasured addition to your music collection.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 8, 2012
The Rating Room


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