Mark 1 - Absolute Zero

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Breathe
Catalog Number: KCB000A
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:30:00

Mark 1 are quite the clever lads. Spot their release Absolute Zero in the shops and you aren't likely to expect the kind of music you'll find. With the post-modern album artwork, one might expect something in the vein of?well, I figured on something like how I imagine Air to sound. Sort of a future-pop sound that I really can't describe, and even if I could, I wouldn't want to confuse you, because Mark 1 aren't like that at all, at least not mostly.

Mark 1 seemed to have pulled off something that I wouldn't say was "the impossible," but certainly unique in its own way - to sound like Fish and Peter Gabriel at the same time. By that I mean that vocalist Kyle Jones at times sounds uncannily like a post-Marillion Fish and like a Genesis-era Gabriel. As it was often said that Fish sounded like Gabriel during his Marillion years, you may wonder why I see any distinction. However, as I don't find the statement to be true for how Fish sounded after he left the band, for me, these are two distinct styles. Interestingly, though, the way Jones sings in his "Fish" voice is in the manner of the Marillion-era Fish- sharp punctuation as he spits out the lines ... meaning that the point in Fish/Marillion's career for one familiar with it at all would be around the time of Fugazi. Not to put too fine a point on it, though I seem to have anyway, but I felt compelled to tell you exactly what I hear. Musically, it seems to span both, plus post-Gabriel Genesis (to a point). I must say that the Genesis influence is the strongest. That they give thanks to a "PG" in their credits suggests to me that I may not be far off the mark ? no pun intended.

Why I went to great lengths to tell you all that beyond a simple sentence is because I was taken quite by surprise by it, such that I stopped what I was doing and just looked at my stereo in surprise. As I said, what I was expecting ? moody, pseudo-50's future-pop, isn't, obviously, what came out of my speakers. I don't even know for sure that that ("mp50f-p") is what Air sound like at all, I have to admit, so maybe they do and I've overlooked Air.

Anyway, having said all that, one does not get the feeling that Mark 1 are trying to be Genesis, though?a case could probably be made. I often though of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, especially as Absolute Zero is a concept album in which bits and pieces of lyric bring forth Lamb like images. There is enough of a modern sensibility to suggest that if they were trying to be Genesis reincarnated (and Re-Genesis is already taken), it is a Genesis where Gabriel remained to this day. Then again, if someone had told me that "Again And Again" were a long lost Genesis tune from the Foxtrot or Nursery Crime era, I wouldn't have been one bit surprised.

Oh, it isn't all Genesis, mind you. Take "The Mind Eraser" for example. Well, I'm not sure how to describe except to say that parts of it are like Tarkus-era ELP warped and in slow motion without Emerson's keyboards -- if that makes any sense. Rather, what I mean is, there is a mechanicalness (to create a word) that ELP tried to achieve (or so I feel) on Tarkus.

"Ultramodern Blues" made me think of Discipline, circa Push And Profit, and ? surprisingly, Alice Cooper. "I'm out of my mind," Jones sings as the music creeps along, at times like a musical box (hmm?.) running very low on batteries. Even "Exodus" is as if Gabriel went of the deep end ? and I think of David Bowie just a smidgen.

Absolute Zero is a concept album, but I'm not sure I could tell you exactly what it's about. The booklet tells a story in three chapters - but these are not the lyrics. While they have a URL printed in the booklet, this takes you their listing at So, while what the band is singing about specifically will remain obscure until they get a full website set up or I'm able to transcribe from what I hear. I see there, though, that I'm not the only one who thought of Lamb. The core of the story, if the vignettes are of any guide, follows an individual identified only as "a man" (or "the man") as he becomes us in this dramatization, the "worker class" (versus the "executive class"). It is a dystopic future we see, though some might see it not so far removed from reality - a world where everyone is a corporate employee, a corporate automaton. If you have read George Orwell's 1984, you will recall the Thought Police ? another reference that comes to mind is George Lucas' THX 1138. As in those stories, something happens to change the status quo, the protagonist is set on a course that goes against the "norm" - so it is here.

This is an interesting release, taking a classic sound and sometimes putting their own spin on things. But this isn't an album where you complain about those similarities as there is no sense the band is trying to be the next Genesis, they aren't clones. I think prog rock fans will quite enjoy this release; I know I do.

Through The Looking Glass (7:32) / Again And Again (4:34) / Oscar The Office Supply Thief (6:08) / Exodus (4:46) / The Mind Eraser (7:01) / Ultramodern Blues (4:26) / Easy Way Out (2:42) / Showdown (3:44) / Identity Crisis (4:25) / Meltdown (9:32)

Kyle Jones - lead voice, Yamaha SY85, ARP Pro Soloist, bass
Chris Molinski - drums, percussion, programming, voices
Robert Difazio - electric guitar

Absolute Zero (2001)
The Criminal Element (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: June 21st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1417
Language: english


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