Land Of Chocolate - Regaining The Feel

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Slipt Disc
Catalog Number: SDR 12401-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:42:00

This is an unusual record, and in the world of progressive music, being different is commonly viewed as a badge of honor. To my mind Land Of Chocolate's music is defined by its odd harmonic shifts, unexpected key changes and unusual time signatures. The question is - will the quirkiness, the complexity and thedifference find audience appeal?

The band was originally formed in Pennsylvania, by Jonn (Finneus Gauge) Buzby - originally a drummer but now re-invented as a singer and keyboard player. The band was broken up and re-formed in North Carolina with a 75% turnover in the lineup, and for Regaining The Feel it comprises Buzby, John Covach on guitar and vocals, Gerald Wilson on bass and vocals, and Wes Hare on drums. The new band is very tight and it's easy to hear how the members complement one another - musically and otherwise. I witnessed them live at this CD's launch and it was interesting to note how John Covach's relaxed delivery appeared to be a natural foil for Buzby's intensity.

The standout track is undoubtedly "Mechanical Pencil", a purely instrumental piece which is a wonderful showcase for this quartet's intelligent fusion-oriented musicianship. Listen to the acoustic guitar interchanging passages with the lead guitar, the heavy organ, the rich melodic tone and the underlying jazziness that drives it. The other 9 tracks are dominated by vocals with unusual dissonant harmonies that will challenge most listeners - and the singing never lets up. It is led by Jonn Buzby, often supported by 2- and 3-part choruses contributed by Covach and Wilson. To appreciate this music you need to focus on the instrumentals behind the singing, the intricate structures and the tightly managed interplay.

"Military Mindset" is a bitter anti-authoritarian piece whose lyrics recall the protest music of the '60s and '70s. It is based on an imaginative riff and complicated vocal parts and the insertion of an angry drill sergeant addressing his troops at boot camp. "Red Pill" is a strong piece featuring a rich organ sound and some Hackett-like guitar lines. It is a slower-moving piece with strong build-up and retreat characteristics, and ends on a dark, tense tone. "Ungrateful" has a very different tone from the other tracks on the record, featuring a compelling, unusual rhythm, then it builds up to a very full sound, pulls back again ... and that is a common characteristic of so many songs. The structures feature a tantric swell and retreat, swell, and the end with a quiet tension.

At face value the lyrics seem to have mixed meaning, and will require your own interpretation. Typical progressive esoteric stuff.

Regaining The Feel is 51 minutes of complex and demanding songs running from 4 to 6 minutes each. Is it intelligent and challenging just for the sake of being intelligent and challenging? Maybe - and this music isn't for everyone. So go to their web site and listen to the sample track. You just might be very impressed!

Film At 11 (3:23) / The Pursuit Of Happiness (5:02) / Killing With Kindness (5:15) / Misanthropic Cattle (4:35) / Regaining The Feel (5:40) / Counting Sand (5:18) / Red Pill (6:29) / Military Mindset (3:51) / Mechanical Pencil (5:23) / Ungrateful (6:40)

Jonn Buzby - keyboards, lead vocals
John Covach - guitars, backing vocals
Wes Hare - drums, percussion
Gerald Wilson - bass, backing vocals

em>Unikorn On The Cob (2001)
Regaining The Feel (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: February 1st 2005
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 702
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]