Rongey, Kurt - That Was Propaganda

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Mellow Records
Catalog Number: MMP 372
Format: CD
Total Time: 69:42:00

When handyman Kurt Rongey released his CD Book In Hand in 1991 on his very own Long Dark Music label, followed by Solid Earth by guitarist Bill Pohl, I had this feeling that one day this guy would deliver a superb prog masterpiece. With diamond dust under his fingernails, Rongey started composing on his Kurzweil K2000 as way back as '91 and '92, completing his then new album That Was Propaganda in 1992. However, that was when the problems started to occur, as Rongey couldn't get the sounds he wanted when he started to mix and master this album. He was at his wit's end and with a much too large investment ahead of him he decided to leave the project for the time being and concentrate on other things. Thanks to software getting better all the time, plus the great help of long time friend Bill Pohl, the album finally got the mix it deserved and eight years later the second Kurt Rongey album finally saw the light of day. Meanwhile Kurt has founded The Underground Railroad together with Bill Pohl, seen as one of the most interesting new American prog bands to enter the new millennium (they play NEARfest this year!). Together with David Bagsby, Rongey also plays a more intimate music in Xen.

The new album opens with the long epic (16:57) "St. Petersburg" which is built out of four seperate parts. Only seconds into the opening track and you already come up with the name Echolyn. Electric piano betrays Kurt's love for the Canterbury Scene (with Underground Railroad he performs the Egg cover "Wring Out The Ground" on a tribute album), which he changes towards more intimate parts by means of acoustic piano. The inclusion of Pohl is rather sparse here only allowing the guitar to add some colour to the song. In "Leningrad" Rongey has his synths roar like the twin brother of Jean Michel Jarre, augmented with loads of weird effects and sounds to remind us of the Russian war. The singing during "Leningrad" is really outstanding as Rongey tries to follow the scales of the piano in an almost classical way. Samples of violin end this song in an original way yet a real symphonic orchestra would of course have been much better.

As a daytime job Kurt Rongey is a producer and presentor for WRR-FM 101.1 in Dallas, Texas, a classical radio station in the States. His love goes towards contemporary artists which is clear enough if you listen to his own "In The Know", a piece of "contemporary chamber music" of the first degree (don't forget all of this was done using samples!). After the disastrous situation wheret sound was concerned, "Valutnaya" was completely re-recorded this time around. It's a song which takes you from one extreme to the other. Then again "Palach" is a very intimate instrumental soundtrack which has been arranged in a very classical way. Fragile acoustic guitar makes "Kira" sound rather sombre. In only one and a half minutes Rongey once again highlights his love for the Canterbury Scene by means of "Terror Is The Cure." The closing song "Poem" is an ambient kind of thing which has some sparse piano chords all over.

That Was Propaganda certainly isn't the kind of album you put on when you have friends over for a drink (unless you want to get rid of them as fast as you can!) yet it melds elements of Echolyn, Happy the Man, National Health (and to a lesser extent) DFA and Deus Ex Machina into a new work of art, a work which certainly comes close to that of contemporary classical composers. My prediction that this guy would one day deliver a prog masterpiece is well on its way. That Was Propaganda certainly is the right indication!

St. Petersburg (3:25) / Petrograd (4:36) / Leningrad (5:00) / St. Petersburg (3:56) / Some Things Should Not Be Expressed In Words And Music (4:56) / In The Know (3:04) / Valutnaya (10:03) / Palach (4:05) / Kira (9:55) / Terror Is The Cure (1:39) / The Interrogation (4:31) / Desperation (6:56) / Y-Clad (3:51) / Poem (3:32)

Kurt Rongey - vocals, keyboards, drum programming
Bill Pohl - guitars

Book In Hand (1991)
That Was Propaganda (2000)
The Underground Railroad - Through And Through (2000)
The Underground Railroad - The Origin Of Consciousness (2005)
With Form It Threatens Silence (download album only) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 593
Language: english


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