Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Lonely Crowd

Good evening fellow progheads!  Pack your bags, stop the mail delivery, make plans for doggie day care if necessary, and cancel all appointments for the next seven days...we are taking the concert closet on a trip that may require some in-flight snacks!  This past week has been a time of deep prog searching; I have been hankering for something "left of center..." music that takes off in a different direction.  Knowing that prog means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, I dug deep...looking for the out-of-the-ordinary. Welcome to "The Land Down Under" my fellow progheads, and the music of A Lonely Crowd.

A Lonely Crowd hails from Melbourne, Australia...not the first time I have ventured this far from home I know, and seeing blades of grass bravely poking through the dirty snow in my backyard I thought it might be a good time to go grab a Fosters where they brew 'em.  Australia seems to be fertile ground for inspiring progressive music bands...could be something in the air...or maybe the water...all I know is the few times I have journeyed to that side of the equator the jet lag was well worth the trip.  A Lonely Crowd defines themselves as experimental/progressive...time to break out the Bunsen burners and test tubes...

My first serving from this Aussie feast is a song called "The Fall."  I like it when a song catches you by surprise like this one does.  A subtle opening...some guitar fading in...and them BAM!  My headphones explode.  The vocals ring of The DiVinyls and 4 Non Blondes, while the full sound of the drums and guitar are quite capable of backing up the singing.  The fast pace of the percussion paired with the lounge feel of the voice wrapped in a guitar blanket is an interesting first take.  So far I like what I hear...

Serving number two is called "Bipolar Bear."  I am immediately transported to my youth and the sounds of my sister's jewelry box opening with an innocent twinkle.  A Lonely Crowd likes to lull you into a false sense of security though; the guitars and drums once again burst through like so many sledgehammers on an arcade Whack-A-Mole game.  The mood swings from high to low and back so often in four minutes that the poor bear has a lot more than bipolar issues to deal with...his claws must be bleeding trying to hang with the constantly changing time signatures and tempo swings.  A Lonely Crowd  hits you like a mosh pit surfer wearing a shirt and tie; your first thought is, "where did that come from?"

Liner Notes...A Lonely Crowd is Luke Ancell on guitars, Scott Ancell on drums, David Morkunas on bass and keyboards, and Xen Havales on flute and vocals.  Starting out in 2011, the band has released two albums to very positive reviews and appreciative audiences.   Describing themselves as "steadfastly original and left of center," A Lonely Crowd plays music they like to hear rather than trying to find a sound that pleases the masses.  This is one of the many reasons I live in "Prog World"--no need to conform when you have talent.  To paraphrase a semi-famous movie line; "If you play it, they will hear."  A Lonely Crowd has undeniably staked out their own turf in the prog garden, growing fertile sounds strong enough to burst through even the rockiest soil.

Song choice number three is a tune called "Tightrope Somnabulists."  With an opening reminiscent of the "Twilight Zone" I am instantly drawn in.  A Lonely Crowd puts all the pieces together on this cut; everyone seems in complete sync with each other.  Scott lays a solid drum foundation while Xen's flute floats over the top like an eagle eyeing innocent prey.  During this little tete-a-tete Luke and David are pushing the parameters with tight guitar work and Xen adds just enough vocal to tie the bow.

The clip below is "Blur," the latest video from A Lonely Crowd.  The song is from the album "Transcients," released earlier this year as the band's follow up to their 2011 debut "User Hostile."  A Lonely Crowd does a fantastic job painting the musical picture narrated by the music.  The vivid imaginations of the artists both musically and visually come to life in a way that is all at once confounding and completely straightforward.  A Lonely Crowd is alluring because they refuse to be forged from a mold pre-defined by others.  Learn more about A Lonely Crowd at http://alonelycrowd.com/

Another long journey taken and another prog band discovered.  The only thing that seems faster than the trip itself is the minutes ticking off the clock like the racing heartbeat of a distance runner.  Time to regroup, do some laundry, and get the concert closet prepared for yet another trip to parts unknown.  Still can't decide if the best part of this whole thing is discovering new prog bands or just basking in the music itself.  Perhaps they are intertwined as one is not possible without the other.  It certainly is not the in-flight pretzels...until next week...

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