Parmenter, Matthew - Astray

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Strung Out Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:12:00

What makes progressive rock so special is the fact the music takes time to soak up and grasp. While most songs eventually get overplayed and overtired, Matthew Parmenter's Astray is rechargeable, reusable, and grows stronger with every use. This is progressive rock in its highest form. It's like a work of art that hangs on a museum wall. Patrons will see something new with each and every visit even when the details don't jump out at them right away.

Matthew Parmenter's demeanor and style is classy. He never riles his guests or causes them a single stir from their seat. Even the most bombastic pieces are done with sheer etiquette. Astray is a show of careful planning and politeness. The same elements that have been appreciated in early Genesis are also found on Astray. This album will appeal to same fan base.

Matthew Parmenter demonstrates versatility in every sense of the word. He does all the singing on the album. He also does all the instrumentations except for the bass. That job has been assigned to another Matthew with the last name Kennedy. As for the production of the album, Matthew Parmenter produces, engineers, and even mixes the album. The mastering is left for Jonathan Wyner. Aside from this help, the album is forged solely in Matthew Parmenter's thoughts and efforts. This is stunning when you take into consideration all the intricate compositions and instrumentations that one finds on Astray. Known in the past for his work with Discipline, Matthew Parmenter proves with this album to have the mettle, motivation, and mentality to create great works all on his own.

Astray consists of seven organic songs that contain more nutrients than their conventional counterparts. They will cleanse the mind and replace them will lost essentials. The listener should continue to suck up its contents until every last drop is extracted. Like a complex mathematical formula, it takes an epiphany to be enlightened by its meaning. The album is no different. After repeated listens, the brilliance will surface just as it does for many of the great progressive rock albums. Listen without judgment and then listen again. Eventually, liberal treatments will cure the toxifying effects caused by the common song.

After a stroll through the marketplace, the shopping cart contains these wholesome treats:

"Now" - A reoccurring theme and melody is built from this opening piece. The singing is incredibly passionate. The notes are stretched to the limit. While they bend, they do not break. The music is complemented by eerie sounds that reek from the guitar and keyboards far off in the background. Adding to the emotion is the intermittent wail of a sax. This song, the whole album for that matter, is a grower. When the breeding begins it is exponential.

"Distracted" - This is moody piece wrapped within a murky atmosphere. Matthew Kennedy plays the bass in the style of Mike Keneally. A xylophone is cleverly incorporated into the mix. It seems no instrument is out of Matthew Parmenter's reach.

"Dirty Mind" - All the hor d'oeuvres on the platter appears to be the same, yet the taste is slightly different with each and every piece. Each one is a delicatessen in its own right. While you must savor each bite, it is difficult to resist greedily gobbling them all down. This song, while slightly similar to the others, is a fun chunk of ingenuity due to its subtle differences from the others. Like they say on Sesame Street, it is different, but the same. The song contains some fragments that are similar to Spock's Beard's "The Gypsy." The lyrics are naughty, but nice, perverse, yet playful.

"Another Vision" - When I hear this song, a single thought crosses my mind. This sounds like R.E.M.; however, I cannot place the exact song. It is almost like some misplaced rarity Matthew Parmenter swiped from R.E.M.'s locker. The songwriting is not all that's stolen. Matthew Parmenter's voice mirrors R.E.M.'s frontman Michael Stipe.

"Some Fear Growing Older" - This campfire song contender has a melody that's a combination of Queen's "We Are The Champions," Kansas' "Dust In The Wind," and Harry Chapin's "Cats In The Cradle." While similar, the mood is slightly more sedentary in nature. To choose one comparison, the song is probably closest to Phil Collins' "I Wish It Would Rain Down." Matthew Parmenter plays the drums like Ringo Star and the acoustic guitar is slathered in sweet barbecue sauce. The song is slow-cooked until it's moist and tender on the inside.

"Between Me And The End" - The opening track is a strong song that leaves the listener longing for another helping. There is no need to start back at square one in order to satisfy the urge. This track reprises some of the melodies found in that song. The slight variations in the instrumentations and singing make it sound more like a Styx ballad.

"Modern Times" - We finish with an epic that's a whopping twenty-one minutes. The song reprises the opulent opening many times over and incorporates several other themes as well. It's a healthy platter loaded with natural ingredients. A pinch of oregano, basil, and cilantro give these leafy greens a little zest. Slices of tomato give it a satisfying sweetness. A diced up onion makes every mouthful munch. Every bite yields a new combination of flavors and no artificial flavors are to be found in the mix. Transatlantic's essence is used in a number of the keyboard-driven melodies. The taste buds are even triggered by traces of Yes' "Machine Messiah" and Echolyn's Mei. In the last leg of this song, the music incrementally builds up to a brisk pace. Though it breaks a sweat, it falls short of overexerting itself. Due to the combination of dynamics and grace, it is the best song on the album. It is the showpiece on a mantle that has already been elaborately decorated. When taken as a whole, the album will make one wonder how one musician can do so much with so little help.

Now (9:58) / Distracted (7:39) / Dirty Mind (9:21) / Another Vision (7:08) / Some Fear Growing Old (6:56) / Between Me And The End (5:58) / Modern Times (21:09)

Matthew Parmenter - guitars, drums, keys, violin and sax
Peter Hammill - guest vocals

Discipline - Push And Profit (1993)
Discipline - Unfolded Like A Staircase (1997)
Astray (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 24th 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner

Artist website:
Hits: 751
Language: english


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