Far Corner - Far Corner

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: RUNE 194
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:06:00

Chamber rock. While the term could be loosely interpreted to mean the simple amalgamation of rock aesthetic and the sound palette offered by chamber instruments, thus including outfits like Apocalyptica, it has instead come to embody an important subgenre of progressive rock taking equally from the ever-rebellious (at least in jest) Anglo-Saxon form of pop music and from extinct dudes like Stravinsky and B?rtok. And some jazz rock, too. Probably. Rolling Stone pundits will probably say that the Dave Matthews Band borders on chamber rock because there's a violin in there, and some pretentious college student with a barely adequate grasp on classical music will say that Beethoven is true chamber rock, but no one is more pretentious than the Progfreak. That, my dear friend, hopefully means you. And as such, you know what I'm talking about: the world that is almost unquestionably led by Belgian legends Univers Z?ro. The point of all this nonsense is simply that Far Corner is supposed to be a chamber rock band, and names like Present and the French translation of null universe pop up in comparison charts. Don't buy this. Far Corner is more like an instrumental ELP devoid of Greg Lake's often-awful penchant for Velveeta cheese vocals, brought way up to date, and provided with a very convincing chamber and electric instrument combination. Plus, William Kopecky can shred like Lake never could. And you don't have to hear ELP's incessant banter about its members' virtuosity and self-deified status.

It's not that the abundant chamber rock and RIO references are completely out of context here, as parts of "Going Somewhere?" and "Outside" could easily have wound up on a Present album, and parts I and III of "Something Out There" are in fact reminiscent of Univers Z?ro. However, the similarity is only superficial. Far Corner's compositional aesthetic is closer to that of ELP when the cornerstone prog trio tackled classical music compositions: hungry, mean, virtuous, and leaning strongly towards rock, but in this case devoid of annoying and overdone synthesizer sound effects. Moreover, some of Angela Schmidt's distorted cello churning is simply too close to heavy metal riff material to truly fit the RIO mold, and Dan Maske ? well, he sounds like he listened a lot to Keith Emerson in his youth, although the only time he almost gets to sounding too close is on "The Turning." Oh, do remove that sad look on your face. I'm not saying that these guys are ELP clones. In fact, they are ridiculously far from it, the band's self-titled debut album having a flair and style that is adorably unique. It's a lot of playing and it's a lot of notes. It's a lot of good stuff too. And a couple of letdowns. But, hey, nobody's perfect. Except for Mr.T. And maybe the guy that hangs out at the Rainbow and looks like Hulk Hogan. That guy's pretty close, too.

Now, there are several elements at play here that make Far Corner a very good debut. One, and perhaps the strongest, is Kopecky's instantly identifiable bass style, which just oozes with originality and even gives the bass parts on the album a close feeling to Chapman Stick work at times. Then there is Schmidt's notorious ability for making her cello sound appropriately vicious when needed, as in some pretty nasty sul ponticello glissandos that appear to great effect in the second part of "Something Out There." But Dan Maske ? you really gotta love the guy. Not only did he compose everything on the album (well, "Something Out There" is improvised, but he did, after all, come up with the structure beforehand), but he actually plays so tastefully that it never appears as if though he has simply come up with background material for incessant wankering. No, seriously. He's always playing with the band, and he even uses some cool effects that are somewhat uncommon in the symphonic rock / classic progressive rock mold, such as strumming the strings inside the piano with the pedal depressed. It sounds really creepy. Mondoradical. Hey, don't complain. The 80s are coming back, and "mondoradical" was a word back then ? I think.

Anyway, here's the deal: think vicious ELP, make it darker with a slight hint of RIO and Red-era King Crimson, put some metallic riffs in there, give it both electric and chamber instruments, a nice variety in dynamics, and put some guts in it. Oh, I almost forgot. I'm 99% positive that this is an instrumental concept album about hunting a big and scary creature. Mix that all together and you get Far Corner. Sure, Maske's jazzier moments at the beginning of "The Turning" are not all that enjoyable, and they screw up the slight hints of B?rtok and Debussy that accompany them, but the rest of the solo is blazing material. Yeah, "Tracking" gets kind of boring. But it's only six minutes in an album that lasts over an hour. And I will surely depress those who get wet dreams from long tracks when saying that, although "Fiction" is pretty good overall, it's a tad bit lacking in the structure department and thus loses steam and feels like too much a couple of times. But for a debut, this is pretty good. Not quite like the dude at the Rainbow who looks like Hulk Hogan, but hey, not even I am close to the dude at the Rainbow who looks like Hulk Hogan!

Similar artists: ELP, Guapo, King Crimson

Silly Whim (4:54) / Going Somewhere? (5:01) / Something Out There: I. (6:48) / Something Out There: II (7:02) / Something Out There: III (3:27) / With One Swipe Of Its Mighty Paw (7:40) / Outside (5:25) / Tracking (6:33) / The Turning (7:39) / Fiction (16:24)

William Kopecky - electric basses
Dan Maske - piano, Hammond organ, synthesizers, percussion
Angela Schmidt - cellos
Craig Walkner - percussion

Far Corner (2004)
Endangered (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 14th 2005
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.far-corner.com
Hits: 1744
Language: english


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