There is no doubt in my mind that the masses will hate this 3rd output by the pair Gavin Harrison and 05Ric (the 2nd output 'Drop' from 2007 and 'Circles' from 2009). For one thing, itís the most abstract and absolutely ground breaking release they have done so far (and I canít even imagine where the next one would go, but Iím scared, very scared *s*). Itís also nowhere near easy listening. In fact, this will go into the avant garde genre of music. I say it is ground breaking because it is simply some of the toughest music to play, I have heard in the progressive rock world. Iíll qualify that by saying I am not including some of the RIO and heady avant garde bands over the past few years.
Just to give readers of this review a little bonus, here is a video of Gavin when he was on David Letterman in 2011, and you can get a chance to see him in action with both solo and playing with Lettermanís band. Itís worth your time, please click here to view.
So if you really want to make music that has never been done before, what do you do? Well one answer is what Gavin and Ric do here. And itís not always pretty. In fact, the reason the vocals are so seemingly disconnected to any harmony or ear candy most people expect, is because they took this project on to make something different. Yes, in the world of progressive music, and what it is supposed to mean (going further than before), to think that anyone would do someone so brave? Oooooh Iím, telling your mamma! *l* But seriously, this is what the world of progressive music should be like more often. I gotta take this chance to say, I have been quite disappointed in a good deal of the so called progressive rock bands coming out over last 4 or 5 years. Not all, but many. Simply because they did the safe and status quo, and bored me to pieces. Now ĎThe Man Who Sold Himselfí is never boring. If your brain isnít working overtime while listening to this, then you probably only like the commercial stuff.
How to describe this music. Well I certainly wonít try to go song by song or even analyze one but I can draw some similar comparisons. If you loved Japanís ĎTin Drumí, then you might just like this because it is a more evolved, more intricate, and even more daring and esoteric speedup and distorted version of that album. Now add the fact that 05Ric has a slightly similar vocal sound as David Sylvian and Adrian Belew. And add the kind of avant semi funk, angular, experimental progressive rock take as a hybrid late period Japan mixed with King Crimson (Discipline/Beat/Three of a Perfect Pair era) and something beyond, and you have a basic framework for the musical compositions. Is that complex or what? This music is stunning! Itís one of the brainiest and most innovative recordings I own and I positive that both Bill Bruford and Robert Fripp would be proud of these two genuinely boundary pushing musical artists for what they have done here. The drumming of Harrison goes backwards and forwards, sideways and upside down. Some of what he does is deceptively simple, obviously complex, and always skillfully executed. Heís as tight as a tick. Both musicians are perfectionists to a fault. This is not easy listening but not in the same way as the RIO and advanced avant garde bands can be. This is just not easy listening due to the fact that you have to really listen and absorb things you have never heard before. In the sense of production, great tunes (however odd the chord progressions and vocal notes are at times), and melody go, it is still accessible in the progressive arena. It will just take a few listens to digest every detail. Itís a true progressive recording in every way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and then some.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on May 21st, 2012