Mark 1 - Criminal Element

Year of Release: 2001
Label: independent
Catalog Number: KCB001A
Format: CD
Total Time: 35:31:00

You gotta hand it to these guys ... they've definitely got a sense of humor. I mean, the mere mention of Mark 1 gets my head going on about Oscar the office supply thief ever since I listened to the band's debut Absolute Zero, "I Want To Go To The F*cking Zoo!" is certainly an amusing song title, and the silhouette of a criminal sticking his tongue out is definitely an oddball way of adorning the back of an album. Groovy, we could certainly use some more lightweight moods in progressive rock if you ask me, and Mark 1 is certainly delivering the goods. And while the musical vocabulary of this very young act still has some way to go before it reflects the trio's ambitions adequately, The Criminal Element shows that this could be one to keep our eyes on for the future.

To be perfectly honest, I was initially disappointed when I listened to this album, as I was hoping that the band would choose to evolve in the direction of the first three tracks of Absolute Zero, which constituted that album's quirkiest and catchiest material. Expecting a musical group to develop in the way that one wants it to, however, is more than just a bit selfish, so I took it upon myself to listen with open ears and see what Bobby DiFazio, Chris Molinski, and Kyle Jones had come up with this time around. Not surprisingly, the material presented is still deeply entrenched in Genesis tradition, with Jones' dominating keyboards being used in an effectively sober approach that is complemented by DiFazio's excellently placed guitar incursions; much like Tony Banks and Steve Hackett used to work at one point in history. Not a bad combination, of course, but it is too reminiscent of the legendary British symphonic rock group on several occasions, and thus needs to be worked on a bit more to effectively give Mark 1 its own sound.

When one thinks about it, however, it took most legendary progressive rock acts a couple of albums before they finally found their very own identity, and given the age of Mark 1's members, there is still plenty of time to explore and exploit until the band finally finds gold. If I were to be asked, gold is probably to be found in the youthful enthusiasm that covered much of the band's debut and which is somewhat left behind on The Criminal Element, but even then, these guys have a couple of good tricks up their sleeves this time around. Hell, "Captain Labrador's Unceremonious Disengagement (and the consequences thereof)" drew a smirk from my face with its improvised comical sketch flair, and "I Want To Go To The F*cking Zoo" has this appealing quality that really hits the mark (no pun intended) after you "get down with your funky self." Add to that the fact that the album's title track does indeed continue with the seeds sown on Absolute Zero up to a point, and you know that this band hasn't lost it; it's only looking for alternatives.

Similar artists: Genesis

The Criminal Element (9:08) / Another Commercial Casualty (4:25) / Captain Labrador's Unceremonious Disengagement (0:51) / The Raven (9:23) / I Want To Go The F*ckin Zoo! (3:06) / The Life... (5:49) / ...On The Run (3:30)

Kyle Jones - keyboards, vocals
Chris Molinski - drums, percussion
Robert DiFazio - guitars, bass

Absolute Zero (2001)
The Criminal Element (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: August 11th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 621
Language: english


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