Frogg Café - Fortunate Observer Of Time

Year of Release: 2005
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:49:00

Out of all their releases, this third one is best. These frogs have grown from tadpoles to adult amphibians and now they're hopping on all fours. As younglings, they were already developing music that was well above the average. Whether or not they were ready to play with the big dogs, or progs in this case, was merely a matter they would resolve in a later saga. The story has come full circle. This is their most superior and sophisticated creation yet. This is undoubtedly the most uplifting out of all their records and it's one of the biggest surprises of the year. Moreover, their most recent advancements are the ones that work best for them. They have really progressed beyond their previous installment, Creatures. There will be no going to the dark side in this third act of the trilogy. To the contrary, this one brings us some light that we've needed for some time.

There is something a little flowery in the music this time around. Considering their close ties with The Flower Kings, I wouldn't be surprised if the paternity tests prove to be positive. While there is certainly crossover between The Flower Kings and Frogg Caf?, by no means is there any mimicry happening here. It's just a clever collaboration of innovative ideas with ones that have already been proven. Then again, their greatest strengths revolve around their use of trumpet and other instruments atypical to rock music. I have never heard these types of instrumentations used so effectively in these kinds of compositions. I guess you could say I've never heard them used this way at all. It is truly clever how they integrated trombones, marimbas, congas, cellos, and flutes seamlessly into the mix, but it's the trumpet that really outshines them all.

These frogs are true fans of progressive rock themselves. Not to mention, they are all music teachers by trade. This combination results in the culmination of many captivating cuts. The caf? is open for business and full of atmosphere. The selections are savory, the fluids are fragrant, the beans are richly-roasted, and the odors are amorous. Take a seat, kick back, and sip on your balmy beverages while these frogs flabbergast you with a fog of progressive gratification.

Here's what you can expect to come to fruition in Frogg Caf?'s latest edition:

Track 1: "Eternal Optimist" - This is so different than anything that came before, it is almost bewildering. It's folksy, yet it aerates an air of eccentricity. It's obvious this music was heavily influenced by their stint as a Frank Zappa tribute band. It's an odd choice for an album opener, because it is unexpectedly unlike anything they've ever done in the past. Despite the history, it won't take long for you to warm up to it.

Track 2: "Fortunate Observer Of Time" - The title track starts out with almost the exact same notes as Karmakanic's "At The Speed Of Light," but ultimately goes in an alternate direction. Rather than a wild plunge, this one soars up into the skies. As sure as Darth Vader is Luke's father, this is the best track to come from them so far. What's weird is that it's completely instrumental. Bill Ayasse's violins are so stunning; they put the Mellotron to shame (my apologies for this blasphemous outburst). Bill makes his mark on this masterful and melodies excursion in more ways than one. While Nick Lieto's trumpet takes us on a tranquil trek, his bass tiptoes casually close behind. While I have nothing against their singing, this is just the most blissful work they've ever managed to create.

Track 3: "Reluctant Observer" - It didn't take long to break box office records. This one tops the previous blockbuster. The opening lays down a thick layer of soft sod. As time elapses, the stems sprout from the sumptuous soils that cover the ground. This has the quaintness and quirkiness of Flying Food Circus, but it's accompanied by vocals that are closer to a Las Vegas lounge act. What's great about this song is that while it's long, it has a number of unique bridges. Themes reappear, but there is almost no true repetition. There are so many exceptional elements in this song, it is sure to cause an epidemic. Majorie Ayasse adjoins her astounding harmonies to a chorus that's already highly contagious. This results in widespread panic. Each of the string instruments, whether guitar, violin, or marimba, contribute to the mass hysteria. Chances are you too will fall victim to this outbreak of melodic malaria.

Track 4: "No Regrets" - As each song so far has subsequently surpassed the prior track, this one keeps the streak alive. This one is a total holy cow. While earlier works may have been closer to Zappa, this one really shows their Flower King tendencies. There are several passages where hardcore fans would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Nick's trumpet solo is terrifyingly terrific. The trombone, marimba, and congas give this compelling cannonball much added weight.

Track 5: "Resign" - This short song is exactly what one could expect from James Taylor and it works well as an easy interlude between two potent pieces.

Track 6: "You're Still Sleeping" - This brings in acts from all over the globe. It takes awhile for them to get setup. Then about halfway through, clowns, trapeze artists, lion tamers, the whole three-ring extravaganza, gets going in a rush. This instrumental passage is a lot like what we found in "No Regrets" and it has a ton of hustle and bustle. These instrumental sections happen to be my favorite parts of the album. I'm sure you'll find each one of them just as welcome.

Track 7: "Abyss Of Dissension" - At 14:38, this is longest track on the album. Aspects of it are dark and dreary, yet it fancies the merriment of a Mardi Gras celebration. It starts with a king's coronation and then gets outright groovy. As the beat begins to penetrate your space, you'll become mesmerized by the music. A soft and silky aura invades the area around you. You'll start to gel as these velvety sounds surround you. With a yawn, you'll lose complete consciousness. When you come back from this cozy coma, you'll feel both violated and relaxed. It's as if you've been massaged from head to toe without your prior consent. Andrew Sussman's bass is the most mischievous element in this allegedly lewd act. Later on, Gentle Giant breaks from the surface with a spectacular shard of acapella harmonies. This is followed by creepy avant-garde vocals and sounds, which oddly enough, share a similar disposition with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The ending of the song is both unique and creative, but this remaining slice is so cold, it will chill you to the bone.

Track 8: "Release" - The real wrap-up came in the previous track. This delicate and diminutive ditty is just the wind-down and the music here is completely classical. In this brief encounter, we hear a flute from Sharon Ayasse along with other classical instruments. It's an absorbing recital to cap the crown's precious jewelry. Overall, the production is polished, the compositions are classy, and the songs are smooth and shiny. All in all, the results of this album are simply priceless.

Eternal Optimist (6:31) / Fortunate Observer Of Time (7:04) / Reluctant Observer (9:27) / No Regrets (8:13) / Resign (1:05) / You're Still Sleeping (10:45) / Abyss Of Dissension (15:38) / Release (3:56)

Andrew Sussman - bass, cello, vocals marinated ice
Bill Ayasse - electric and acoustic violins, vocals, mandolin, percussion
Nick Lieto - lead vocals, keyboards, piano, trumpet, flugelhorn
Steve Uh - electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, violin
James Guarnieri - drums, percussion


John Lieto - trombone (2, 4, 6, 7)
Steve Campanella - marimba (1, 3, 4, 6)
Ed Mann - marimba, vibes, percussion (7)
Izzy Mergen - congas (4, 6, 7)
Marjorie Ayasse - vocals
Sharon Ayasse - flute
Tim Roache - shhh (2)

Frogg Caf? (2001/2004)
Creatures (2003)
Fortunate Observer Of Time (2005)
The Safenzee Diaries (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 25th 2005
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website:
Hits: 939
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]