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And now for something completely different. At a time when prog seems to be back in fashion again, there does seem to be rather a glut of bands doing ‘prog by numbers’, loaded with clichéd technical guitar solos, Hammond organs, mellotrons and being heavily influenced by bands that have gone before them. Brother Ape, now (unsurprisingly, considering the title of the album) on their third studio release, however, make for a refreshing listen, as whilst they are clearly influenced by 70s prog, they also draw influences from classic rock and other areas. The outcome is a band that I can honestly say sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. ‘Universal Eye‘, the opening track, starts with breakbeat style drumming, a modern keyboard sound and the heavily overdriven bass of Gunnar Maxen, and straight away you realise that you’re onto something a little different from the norm. Max Bergman’s drumming, whilst not overly technical, is solid, different and fits the music perfectly, giving it a great deal of texture. From his style, I would guess that he’s greatly influenced by Stewart Copeland from The Police. ‘Cosmic Overdose 8pm’ and ‘Immortal’ give a nod to Genesis and Rush, whilst ‘Monday Breakfast’ is reminiscent, in parts, of The Beatles ‘She’s Leaving Home‘. ‘No Answer’ begins with a sitar-like guitar effect overlapped by a theremin-like keyboard sound and then pounds straight in with a great overdriven riff, before leading into some great atmospheric melodies. The vocal harmonies of both vocalist/guitarist Stefan Damicolas and Maxen are perfectly suited however, it is not overladen with them, like a lot of modern prog, which again sets them aside from the norm. ‘Another day of wonder’ starts with some great drumming, before developing into the most upbeat song from the album, with more excellent vocals and a great guitar solo from Damicolas. There is a real change in tempo with ‘All I Really Want‘, an all-round quieter and mellower track, with more beautiful guitars, which as the song progresses into a multi-layered soaring melody, with an almost neo-classical feel. As a stark contrast, ‘Human Equation’ is a more raw, rockier track, with yet more great drumming from Bergman and the final, very short outro track ‘Three’ lingers to a fade with mellow keyboards and subtly handled guitar feedback. Whilst the album isn’t as crystal-clear in terms of production, unlike much progressive music which is nowadays, the production style suits the music perfectly, and maybe this is down to the fact that the bassist mixed the album. I guess if anyone is to know how the music should sound, it would be the band themselves. Also, through listening to the album, you really get the feeling that this is a band that are having fun and enjoying making their music, and they really seem to play as a band, rather than individuals with egos. I’m guessing those people out there who mainly listen to prog probably may not get where this album is coming from, but for those that look a little further beyond the horizon, this is truly one worth seeking out.
Progress Records
Review by Hannah Sylvester
28th May 2008
1) Universal Eye
2) Cosmic Overdose 8pm
3) Monday Breakfast
4) No Answer
5) Another Day of Wonder
6) Immortal
7) All I Really Want
8) Human Equation
9) Three
"...for those that look a little further beyond the horizon, this is truly one worth seeking out."