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Album number six for Swedish trio Brother Ape has arrived in the form of 'Force Majeure'. A critically acclaimed band renowned for attempting (and succeeding) to push the parameters of an all too often stagnant prog scene, this latest full-length continues their musical journey in both progressive and regressive ways. Progressive in the sense that their compositions still challenge established idioms and general opinion of what many believe should constitute a prog band (yep, Brother Ape's genuinely progressive vibe remains intact) although it's become a tad regressive with regards to stylistic self-mimicry. When a band settles into its own musical vocabulary, it can be a positive quality. On the other hand, it can prove to be a counter-productive trap for creativity and self-progression, and there's a feeling with 'Force Majeure' that Brother Ape have sought to refine their own established modes of expression rather than progress them into further innovative territory. It probably sounds like I'm being a little harsh here but when a band sets the bar of innovation so high with their previous releases, expectations are naturally heightened. So I'll refrain from any unjustly and misplaced harsh criticisms and judge 'Force Majeure' on its own merits. And there are many merits. Compositions take the form of eloquently layered instrumentations that are awash with emotionally-driven melodies as varied keyboard sounds, guitar and bass, as well as the smoothly charming tones of Stefan Damicolas' vocals, combine to create music that is wonderfully captivating. Max Bergman's drumming is as inventive as ever, ranging from minimalist jazzy strokes and breakbeat inflections to polyrhythmic patterns reflecting some songs' unusual time signatures, and he simply rocks it up as and when songs require a more straightforward punch. The production (by the band themselves) is great too - contemporary sounding but with enough warmth in tone of each instrument to give it a vintage twang as well (that sits well with the progressive/regressive vibe in the compositions). And the mix by Damicolas is fantastic as each layer of music is clearly audible although combined in a nicely blended whole. Overall, another fine work of wholly accessible, modern/retro progressive music from a hugely talented trio of Swedes.
Progress Records
Review by Mark Holmes
25th Feb 2013
1) Entry
2) Force Majeure
3) The Mirror
4) Doing Just Fine
5) Distinction
6) Life
7) Somewhere Someday
8) A Hundred Voices
9) The Spanish Prisoner
10) After Rain
"...another fine work of wholly accessible, modern/retro progressive music from a hugely talented trio of Swedes."