Poor Genetic Material - Island Noises

Year of Release: 2011
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: PRR 305
Format: CD
Total Time: 97:52:00

Philip Griffiths' powerful vocals dominates the music of Poor Genetic Material. The son of Beggar's Opera singer Martin Griffiths is a true vocalist, a rare breed in current modern rock circles where it's currently common to find vocal treatments or a virtual ignorance of the musical qualities of the voice. The band is musically tied to the current neo-progressive rock scene in Germany, with equal interplay between keys and guitar forging the foundation of the music. But with Griffiths' vocals, no other band has their sound.

Gradually drifting into crossover territory over the past years, to share pastures with its sister band, Alias Eye, Poor Genetic Material has taken a bold step back into more progressive territory with Island Noises, their seventh studio album. Everything about this double CD release is epic; from the nearly one hundred minutes of music, the dynamic Shakespearean theme (based on The Tempest), epic title track, occasional spoken word, and seamless flowing track list. As Griffiths himself stated, the band wanted to go full tilt with this release, and so they did.

The album starts out innocuously enough with subtle keyboards building slowly before "Roarers" hits full stride, but once Griffiths' vocals start, you know you're in for a ride. The first CD flows from track to track with no visible transitions, much like the endless lapping of water on an island beach - perhaps in keeping with the theme of the release. Obscure lyrics by Glomb and Jaehne, band guitarist and keyboardist, are based on the works of Shakespeare's Tempest, but have a modern connotation. Musically, the album stays in the middle ground yet with subtlety explores many terrains. There's a Caribbean flavored acoustic number, "Brave New World," track 3, that morphs into the heaviest track on the release, "Let Them Beware." With chunking riffs and a wash of mellotron, we're steered through another dynamic track, "Caliban's Dream," before resting before the title epic track. "Island Noises." At 20 minutes in length, the track has everything that a modern progressive song should have; dynamic changes, atmospheric musical passages that flow and ebb into complex time signatures, plenty of mellotron and even flute. The diversity of Glomb's fretwork is also on display here. When he wants to rock, he does, but for Glomb the guitar is an instrument used to explore a wide assortment of sounds. The rhythm section is tight throughout and there's even some well orchestrated vocal harmonies. I'm reminded of Mike Oldfield's early works during some parts of the title track.

Disk two starts off with the mid tempo "Banquet Of Illusions" and "Assassins And Sleepers," both of which carry choruses with excellent hooks and musical themes similar to disk one. I love the Frippish guitar that slithers through the end of track two. "In A State Of Grace" is one of the album's gentler tracks and disposed to a melodic AOR sound. Halfway through things change and the energy is turned up a few notches. Seconds later, it's back to a flute and soothing vocals. It becomes quite apparent on this disk how PGM really like to create atmospheres in their music.

Three tracks on disk 2 clock in at roughly nine minutes. From the psychedelic spoken word and meandering keys of "Fountain Of Innocence," to the Asia like PompRock of "Drowning The Book," it is nearly impossible to describe all the changes in evidence here. The second disk seemed meandering to me upon the first few listens, but continual repeated listening brought out the wealth of musical ideas found here. "Dreamstuff" closes disk two in an appropriate manner, starting with symphonic heavy riffs, segueing into a short, mellow classically-driven keyboard layered bridge which takes us to a slowly building and majestic conclusion.

There's playful moments here too as if PGM wants us to know they're having fun with their music. And it's imperative to mention the fabulous flute work of Pia Darmstaedter, who adds such a pastoral dimension to the album throughout and especially on the extended instrumental portion of "Sycorax."

Martin Griffiths, father of Philip also makes an appearance on the album, doing all the spoken word. Griffiths senior, I'm told, is heavily involved in PGM's next project. The double CD comes with sleeve notes that include some beautiful minimalist impressionist paintings and lyrics. Production and sound is top notch.

If you are a progressive metal fan looking for extended instrumental virtuosity and guitar wankery, look elsewhere. You'll not find it here. Poor Genetic Material seems to be that rare breed of progressive minded band that embraces melody and strong song-writing as part of the musical expanse that it celebrates. With Island Noises, the expanse has widened and the band has created its ultimate masterwork.

Released in conjuction with Quixote Music

Disc One: Roarers (5:39) / A Dance So Strange (4:44) / Brave New World - part 1 (3:56) / Brave New World - part 2 (5:52) / Caliban's Dream (6:09) / Island Noises (19:55)

Disc Two: Banquet Of Illusion (5:49) / Assassins And Sleepers (5:47) / In A State Of Grace (6:22) / Fountain Of Innocence (8:38) / Sycorax (4:32) / Ariel (2:42) / Drowning The Book (9:04) / Dreamstuff (8:33)

Philip Griffiths - vocals
Stefan Glomb - guitars
Philipp Jaehne - piano, organ
Dennis Sturm - bass
Dominik Steinbacher - drums
Martin Griffiths - recitations
Pia Darmstaedter - flute

Free To Random Vol. 1 (1999)
Free To Random Vol. 2 (2000)
Summerland (2001)
Leap Into Fall (2002)
Winter's Edge (2003)
Spring Tidings (2006)
Paradise Out Of Time (2007)
Island Noise (2011)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: April 3rd 2011
Reviewer: Richard Zywotkiewicz
Artist website: www.poorgeneticmaterial.de
Hits: 2454
Language: english


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