Year of Release: 1998
Label: Genterine Records
Catalog Number: CPR-1002
Total Time: 47:18:00
Strange is the operative word here. I'm sure I had read a review somewhere, as the band's name is familiar to me. I know I've seen their ads in Progression. But somehow I was expecting prog in the same vein as Tristan Park or the like. Maybe because Cobweb Strange are an American band (Atlanta, Georgia) and some of the 90s American prog I've heard of late has many similar stylistic qualities. A dryness that differentiates it from European prog. There is that hint of Americana, where the music isn't classically influenced. This is a thought better served in an editorial, so suffice it to say that I wasn't expecting Crimson influenced prog, angular rhythms (thought I should have, having visited their website and read the bio). What I actually thought of was Jane's Addiction playing Crimson, and by that I mean the good aspects of both.
Instrumentally, bass and percussion are at the forefront for most of the album. Bassist Wade Summerlin handles vocal duties ? and I haven't quite come to a decision as to whether I like or dislike his vocals. They are as angular and non-traditional as is the music; he's a bit nasally in places and a little off key in others, but ? well, I haven't come to a firm decision. This isn't to suggest that guitarist Keith Rinehart is lost in the mix, as his bright, sharp guitar lines are heard throughout, but drummer (and brother) Derik Rinehart and bassist Summerlin are more often up in the mix. Cobweb are better instrumentalists than vocalists and I am drawn more to the instrumental passages. However, the lyrics do evoke vivid imagery, so that's not absolute. There are some interesting ideas and observations explored here ... if I were reviewing merely that, I'd point to "Solitude & The Hollow Promise" as being quite poetic, and to "...As The Sky Crumbles" as being keenly drawn social commentary. All of the lyrics are penned by Summerlin, and some of his observations come a little too close to home for me to comment much further. But, unless your life has been perpetually sunny, bright, and unnaturally perfect, you'll find some of yourself in there, too.
The 10 minute "Sometimes The Shine Just Fades Away" stands out and is the most Crimson like to me?maybe more latter day Crimson as I kept thinking of "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" (Thraak, 1995). Time changes go from very languid to almost frenetic with almost nothing in between.
"Thirteen" is a mixed back, as it starts off dark and mysterious with deep, booming bass?actually a bit Rush like, but loses its effectiveness during the repeated refrains of the one line chorus. "The Color Of" moves their sound more into a mellow and atmospheric mode of fellow Georgians REM, circa Monster and after. As gruff and deep as the vocals are here, this is the overall best vocal performance. The track is a bit mournful and dreary, but a deep listen to the instrumentation will reveal that there's more going on behind the vocals than simple time keeping, mainly with Summerlin's bass. And, as dreary as it is, I like it, if a bit overlong.
"?As The Sky Crumbles" is bass heavy hard rock?a la Deep Purple, say, with a slightly more metal edge to it. There's a little prog metal crunch, but ever so subtle. You can't say it chugga-chuggas?more thrumba- thrumba.
Uncharacteristic for the rest of the album is the gentle, understated "A Cup To Catch The Silence," an acoustic track. This track is so evocative of rain in both words and music that I can almost smell the wet earth, can almost see blurred green images of bushes outside a rain pelted window. A very, very nice track, that ends an overall good album.
The band are currently working on their third album [which is the also reviewed A Breath Of October -ed.].
Taste Of Ash (2:44) / Sometimes The Shine Just Fades Away (10:35) / Thirteen (6:45) / The Color Of (6:17) / ...As The Sky Crumbles (3:57) / Solitude & The Hollow Promise (7:38) / A Cup To Catch The Silence (6:57)
Wade Summerlin - bass, acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals & drips
Derik Rinehart - drums and backing vocals
Keith Rinehart - electric guitar
Thoughts Under Glass (1995) (ep)
The Temptation Of Successive Hours (1996)
Sounds From The Gathering (1998)
Seamless Selections (2002)
A Breath of October (2002)
Genre: Progressive Rock