Dreadnaught - Musica En Flagrante

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Big Balloon Music
Catalog Number: BBM 1101
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:06:00

So Dreadnaught is a progbilly band, right? If you judge by American Standard, at least. So, what's this on Musica En Flagrante? Well, it ain't progbilly, that's for sure. But it's just as cool... setting aside rock for jazz. And no, they aren't jazzbilly now.

No, instead we get delicate piano textures, tart organ phrases and funky, synth drum beats ("R. Daneel Olivaw")... energetic, eccentric rhythms ("One Trick Pony") and dramatic and cinematic pieces ("Northern Pike," "Are Your Pants Down? (Pants Down)")... and more. Oh, there're remnants of their progbilly roots in frenetic, super-high energy "Gulf Of Tonkin," but... you'd almost hardly recognize this year's model (well, 2004's) of Dreadnaught as last year's (2003).

Frankly, I just dig this CD from start to finish - it's fun, it's serious, it's eccentric, it's sanely sober, and mixes just about anything you can think of musically... just about. No rap (good thing), but there's a bit of a twang here and there ("Tiny Machines," "Northern Pike," "The Sirens of Titan: Salo"), whether guitar or violin; some dramatic classical elements, brassy sounds ("Tiny Machines" again) ... Most pieces are short (most in the 1 - 2 minute range), and start and end with the "juicy parts" - in media res really, like you've popped in during the best part of the movie. Even though there are sections that are mellow -- the moody "Threnody For The Victims of Brother Theodore" that puts Justin Walton's Rhodes piano and sax (though none is credited here) at front --, the whole feel of the album is upbeat and bright. Tracks I love include... well all of them, but specifically "Big Cats" - just Bob Lord on keys and programming though you'd swear he had a full brass section with him, big brassy tubas in fact... and some very deep toned ones as well, quietly humming in the background. All over plucked keys. No, I can't just single that one out, I love them all.

I guess since I mentioned "Northern Pike" four times already (including just now), this is a track that has really grabbed attention with me (but truly, the whole album has). "Northern Pike" has a squelchy industrial feel about it to begin with, before we the pluck of keys, tartly twangy guitar, and harmonica. Some passages sound like strings, but are programmed. It's what gives this piece the classically cinematic feel. This "Northern Pike" makes me think of a snow swept landscape - a small, homey mining town that with the bonus (?) of having mammoths lumbering across. Kinda like a surreal, Northern Exposure atmosphere. I rather suspect it's reflective of some area of New Hampshire or the east coast, where the band is based. (Ah, reading Dave's review, it's to the fish they refer... ok).

"Fanfare For A Losing Team" (the then hapless Bosox perhaps?) is cheery tune with more brass. It's another Lord solo piece... that seems to almost reference "Eleanor Rigby" in a certain keyboard phrase, though played much more hurriedly. The jazzy, jazz-fusiony "The Boston Crab" seems almost out of place here, though not quite. It has its own eccentricity.

"The Sirens Of Titan" is the longest piece at 7-plus minutes and includes sweet violin, moody movements, chunky guitars, jazzy Rhodes piano, sonorous sax, through it's various subsections - "Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum," "Back Through Newport, Rhode Island," "Unk And Boaz In The Caves Of Mercury," and "Salo."

"Royal Jelly" ends the album on a lovely note with lotsa guitar, including some smooth slide guitar and notes that will make you think a bit of southern rockers Allman Bros. Band. There's a decidedly outdoorsy, northeast-midwest feel to it, for sure. But, that's not all, as we get some furious fusion guitar as well (Walton). Giving nearly every piece it's kick, it's punch, it's added bite is Tim Haney on drums - big and bold, rumbling and thundering and yet also sparse and measured... quite the dynamic player.

Along with Lord (electric bass, keys, programming, guitar) and cohort and co-composer Walton (keys, Rhodes, sax, piano, guitar) and Haney, there's guests Andy Happel on violin ("R. Daneel Olivaw", "The Sirens of Titan"), Ed Jurdi on harmonica, and Duncan Watt on keys ("The Sirens Of Titan").

I love it. Every minute of it... no, every nanosecond. None of the pieces seem hurried or rushed, even if they only last a minute. The thoughts are complete, not mere fragments of ideas. It's just a solid, fun, energetic, lively and thoughtful album. Yes, I love it!

Released in conjuction with Red Fez Records

R. Daneel Olivaw (3:07) / One Trick Pony (1:52) / Kazak, The Hound of Space (2:15) / Tiny Machines (4:24) / Northern Pike (6:37) / Gulf of Tonkin (1:06) / Are Your Pants Down? (Pants Down) (1:15) / Pull Your Pants Down (Pants Down) (2:23) / Big Cats (3:43) / Threnody For The Victims of Brother Theodore (4:03) / Fanfare For A Losing Team (2:20) / The Boston Crab (2:22) / Winston Niles Rumfoord (1:14) / Elba (Never Come Back, I Want You Gone) (4:39) / The Sirens Of Titan: Chrono-synclastic Infundibulum (0:58) / Back Through Newport, Rhode Island (2:37) / Unk And Boaz In The Caves of Mercury (1:01) / Salo (2:41) / Royal Jelly (5:27)

Bob Lord - bass, keyboards, guitar, programming
Justin Walton - keyboards, guitar, saxophone
Tim Haney - drums

Guest musicians:

Andy Happel - violin
Ed Jurdi - harmonica
Duncan Watt - keyboards

Dreadnaught (1998)
Una Vez Mas (2000)
The American Standard (2001)
Musica En Flagrante (2004)
Live At Mojo (2005)
High Heat And Chin Music (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 16th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.dreadnaughtrock.com
Hits: 907
Language: english


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