6. Sleep Therapy
7. The Colossus
11. Rock Island, 1931
Truly forward-thinking and "progressive" bands are hard to come by. Indeed, most bands of what has come to be known as "progressive" music do nothing to earn the prog tag as they usually just come off as being retro-fetishist rock revivalists only keen on rehashing ideas that were already stale in the mid-1970s. Labels like Inside/Out and Laser's Edge do naught but perpetuate these ideas by continuing to release sub-standard, so-called "progressive" music to the masses, with few exceptions. With that out of the way, it is with great pleasure that a young instrumental three-piece from Milwaukee under the name of Concentric has released an excellent debut album in the form of Immeasurable.
A wonderful exercise in both skillful playing and out-side-the-box thinking, Immeasurable is a mostly acoustic affair utilizing the considerable talents of two guitarists and a drummer. The music shifts and undulates in a way that reminds one of how Cynic might sound if they released an all-acoustic album using "Textures" as its base, or how Michael Hedges might have sounded had he injected a bit of prog-metal into his own playing while retaining that slight new-age tilt. Brad O'Malley's drumming can be a bit too balls-out and fill-centric (in that Brann Dailor sort of way), at times, but the guitar playing of Jerry Hauppa (who also plays the occasional hammered dulcimer and accordion) and James Becker (also on cello and some bass) do more than make up for it as it is very rare to ever hear either of them play the same thing at the same time. The riffs bounce off of and bend around one other, fitting together like the pieces of a great puzzle, with enough technical fretboard-scorching to make the guitar-enthusiasts happy as well as plenty of tapping, hammering-on, and finger-plucking to appease the folksters. Imagine a rough-hewn interpretation of both Ulver's Kveldssanger and Michael Hedges' Aerial Boundaries with a strong progressive rock lean and you wouldn't be too far off, though Concentric emerges with its own idendity. "Verdiend", one of the album's best tracks, has a really cool moment where acoustic guitars are played over a blast-beat. Other songs, such as opener "Sedatephobia" and "Ghosts" serve as hypnotic, repetetive, atmospheric interludes. "Ghosts" even sounds like something the Elephant 6 collective might have released as a companion to something off In The Aeroplane Over the Sea. Another great moment comes in the form of the title track, which sees the members put down their acoustic instruments and plug in for a full-on instrumental prog metal shred-fest. It is an invigorating and nice surprise in the face of all the acoustic numbers.
All in all, I would say fans of any of the aforementioned artists or just truly unique music in general would be very wise to seek Concentric out, as they provide a sound that is truly progressive and almost entirely devoid of wankery. I will be very curious to see where this band goes on subsequent albums.
Review by Alec A. Head
Review date: 04/2010