Kurgan's Bane - Camouflaged In Static

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:19:00

The first thing that will strike you about this music is Lisa Francis' vocals. Her pitch control is good and her voice is strong and melodic with a rich timbre.

It's almost a pity that her vocals are so pleasing though, because they might distract from the very strong instrumentation. Along with Luis Nasser's bass guitar, Pete Laramee's guitar work is one of Camouflaged In Static's biggest strengths. For example, listen to the range of guitar voices Laramee gets from his instrument in the 9-minute "Mirage." That track is almost all-instrumental, almost all carried by just the guitar and bass - yet it never gets boring. Very proggy.

Kurgan's Bane was formed by brothers Pete and Jeff Laramee in Baltimore in 1994. Nasser joined in 1997, Francis became the singer in 1999, and this is the band's third album - the second with Francis as singer. Several of the band members are also in Sonus Umbra. Kurgan's Bane's style is best described as simply - female fronted progressive rock. There are symphonic rock overtones and some may even call it neo-prog. Whatever the label - it's intelligent, very melodic rock that you can listen to again and again.

No music is perfect, and Kurgan's Bane's latest has its share of flaws. Although no one is credited with keyboards, you'll hear sparse inserts of various key-driven sounds. The guitar tones are so rich that you don't miss them much, but it might be nice to hear more texture, more atmospheres, and different energies from song to song. "Override" is a biting criticism of modern culture yet Francis' singing displays a surprising lack of emotion. You might expect a more scathing or angry tone in the We will not be targets / We resist your stare lines, I had a problem with the drum tones on this record. There is one jarring drum note that seems to pop about every second. All of the other drumbeats are held well back in the mix, but that one sound seems to dominate the mix on almost every track.

These observations are minor, though, and do not detract from a great CD with some excellent musicianship. Two tracks stood out for me. "Mirage" demonstrates tremendous variety, rich structure and wonderful solos. And the 8-minute "Martyr" is a wonderfully melodic piece that showcases the band's artistry, with some incredibly tight lead / bass guitar sections. Those two songs alone would easily justify the purchase of this CD.

Most lyrics were penned by Jeff Laramee, with one song each by the other band members. All lyrics are intelligent, if a little esoteric, and most address bleak topics like the early death ("Martyr") and the degeneration of society by the modern TV culture ("Mirage," "Signal To Noise," and the album's cover). There's obviously far more to the lyrics than the limited space of this review permits - but you get the idea.

Perhaps I'm a little biased because Kurgan's Bane is just up the road from me in Maryland, and I know some of the band members and some of the people who contributed to this CD in various ways. But there's no denying the fine musicianship showcased on this record. If there's any justice in the music world Camouflaged In Static will be very well received by the progressive rock community. Such justice isn't easily found in this business, though, so go across to CDBaby and shell out the ten bucks that is the cost of entry to this rewarding listen.

I'm Alive (4:24) / Override (4:35) / Mirage (9:06) / Surface (4:54) / Asstro (3:47) / Time Has Come (6:47) / Signal to Noise (6:30) / The Spectator (7:59) / Regret (4:20) / Martyr (7:53) /

Pete Laramee - guitars, vocals
Luis Nasser - bass, keyboards, vocals
Lisa Francis - lead vocals
Jeff Laramee - drums & percussion, vocals

Search From Sea To Sea (1998)
The Future Lies Broken (2000)
Camouflaged In Static (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin VA

Added: November 29th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website: www.kurgansbane.com
Hits: 1613
Language: english


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