Mind Gallery - The Lemmings Were Pushed

Year of Release: 1999
Label: self-released/Mind Game Productions
Catalog Number: MGP-001
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:01:00

This all-instrumental affair by Canada's Mind Gallery begins with a militaristic theme, suggesting that the titular lemmings are being marched to their death. Lemmings actually exist, and are small arctic rodents. The dry science behind these tiny creatures known more for their mass-suicide jumps than as a part of our ecosystem is that:

"[L]emmings disperse when population densities become extremely high, and many perish by accidental drowning, starvation, and predatory attack during their travels. The dispersing animals were once thought to be sacrificing themselves in order to prevent overpopulation [?] [t]he idea was given popular impetus by a nature film that showed masses of lemmings marching over a cliff and drowning in the water below." [Biology: The Unity And Diversity Of Life, 4th Edition, 1987, pg. 755]

This text also makes mention of a Farside comic showing the lemmings going over, but with one wearing/using an inner tube, thus wryly suggesting that not all lemmings are suicidal. Of course, if they were, there'd be no lemmings. Here too, on The Lemmings Were Pushed, we have another wry commentary on the state of lemmings. Would you say this is the cynic's view? Perhaps not, perhaps it's a relief to know that things hadn't gotten so bad for the lemmings that they had to take a dive. On the other hand, perhaps it's even more sinister that the lemmings were pushed.

However, we need to look at the lemmings less as small arctic rodents and more as ourselves. We are easily led by those we think we can trust, by those that we have put into power - often we are led far astray of where we thought were going, only to find ourselves being sacrificed for some "greater good." The album's original release date was 1991 and while I won't make a case that every track here refers to the Gulf War, at least one seems to, "The Holey War" with its decidedly middle-eastern motif. Of course, as I said, the album leads off with a militaristic theme. Depending on your view of the multi-national forces arrayed against Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military, they either had good reason to be there or were forced into it - ergo, lemmings.

Of course, as I'm reviewing the music not the concept, I'll leave that at that. Mind Gallery sounds a bit like Nude-era Camel throughout much of this disk ? not an exact copy or anything, but with the same kind of feel. Sure, Nude had a militaristic theme in it, as Nude was a soldier returning from war, though it's more than that. "Into The Light," which leads off the album, has that same triumphant feel about it. Guitar and keys share the lead, intertwining quite nicely, ably backed by determined percussion. The other band I thought of whilst listening to this track at least was Castanarc. There's a similar brightness to the instrumentation. I've heard Castanarc compared to Genesis, and so in light of that, there is a bit of a Genesis sound to this. This is, of course, the Genesis prior to 1986 at least ? better to say Classic Genesis.

This isn't quite as strong as their latest, Three Meals? but that isn't to say this isn't a good album. It is?there are some moments that are a bit discordant and don't quite work for me, but as most of this does, the rest will fall into line. There are some interesting, though not entirely unique, sonic textures on "Quote, Unquote" both on keys and guitar (Elio Bruno and Gary Bourgeois, respectively) giving a dark, churning feel, which is enhanced by the bass of Mike Anderton and the percussion of Tracy Gloeckner.

"Melting The Dawn Away" is a slice of instrumental neo-prog, a bit like IQ in places, and would usually serve as the instrumental bridge between two vocal tracks. Meaning this sounds more like an instrumental that the other instrumental tracks, which seem to have a voice (even though there are no vocals). The keys swirl smoothly, providing a cushy bed for the light guitar tones to lie upon. You can imagine this accompanying the visuals of a sun slowly rising up above a mountain range, the soft pastels of dawn becoming the saturated colours of day.

"Bent Straight" is next and is a Djam Karet in rock mode kind of track - twisting guitar over angular percussion that lasts just under two minutes. "The Odd Evening" picks up the phrases, and works them out into a slightly longer piece with a hint of a middle-eastern motif. Not quite as pronounced as on "The Holey War." But also, this is a tango. As the guitar traces an intricate path, you can imagine two dancers doing a tango - but this isn't your usual couple, as there is a hint of the macabre. This is probably their most "neo-prog" styled track.

"This N' That N'" is a loping piece, open keys and guitar racing along in sync - we're watching from above as a gazelle is being chased ... no. We're watching a lemming being chased across the landscape by a helicopter, and you just know what lies ahead, despite our lemmings desperate attempts to get away by cutting back and forth, first one way, then another as the helicopter gets slightly ahead. Of course, the landscape is the flat summit of an isolated peak...

"Anxious" is a bit King Crimsony in places, a bit avant-guard with plucked strings and very angular, actually, the angular aspect is throughout. The barest of hints of ELP right at the end, too.

The track that I find a bit discordant is "One Eyed-Kings" - there is an odd contrast between guitar and keys that makes this feel a bit skewed, but as this album is overall an enjoyable listen overall, and because I truly like it, I'm going to recommend it to you.

(This is a remixed version released by the band last year.)

Into The Light a) The Unhuddled Masses b) Minerva's Gift (7:29) / Quote, Unquote (4:35) / Melting Dawn Away (6:25) / Bent Straight (1:46) / The Odd Evenings (4:38) / One-Eyed Kings (4:45) / Earth Rebirth (8:08) / Anxious (5:11) / This n' That n' (4:48) / The Holey War (5:08) / Indecisive Indecisions (6:08)

Mike Anderton - bass, bass pedals
Gary Bourgeois - guitar
Elio Bruno - keys
Tracy Gloeckner - drums

The Lemmings Were Pushed (1991/1999)
Guilty Until Proven Rich (1995)
Three Meals From Revolution (2000)
10th Anniversary (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: April 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: griffin.multimedia.edu/~mindgame/
Hits: 924
Language: english


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