about%20-%20jpg.jpg reviews%20-%20jpg.jpg interviews%20-%20jpg.jpg gigs%20-%20jpg.jpg cd_review_jolly_theaudioguidetohappinesspartii001006.jpg
Jolly... hmmm... interesting choice of band name. A terrible (and terribly lame) band name in one sense, and one that I predict might discourage new listeners from checking out their music but, in a different sense, a memorable and ambiguously vague moniker that will undoubtedly engender a degree of curiosity as to what they have to offer sonically, particularly with an album called 'The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part II)'. Although, effectively, my first experience of the band, this is actually the Americans' third album and, as you would expect, a successor to 'The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part I)'. A female narrator enunciates such over opening track 'Guidance Three': "Welcome to Part II of 'The Audio Guide to Happiness'. If you have not yet completed Part I, please do so now before continuing." An ironic and quasi-subliminal ploy for the listener to check out Jolly's back catalogue if they haven't already done so? A literal statement of intent whereby this progressive outfit's musical journey and the euphoria-inducing one they promise the listener is only truly fulfilled if 'Part I' is fully digested before experiencing 'Part II'? Whatever the case, 'Part II', as a standalone piece, is a magnificent collection of eclectic, cross-genre compositions infused with genuinely progressive twists and turns. Happiness inducing though? Well, there are sporadic passages of melodically uplifting sonics but the happiness this album stirs in me is Jolly's aptitude for skilfully combining and seamlessly switching between a gamut of genres and subgenres with refined swagger. Take the slow build-up of heaviness in 'Firewell' which peaks with some Devin Townsend style growls over an unexpectedly hard-hitting section of the song - unexpected but naturally flowing within the context of the track. Likewise, the switch to a reggae inspired vibe three quarters through 'You Against the World' is, likewise, unexpected, but not jarringly so, rather fitting for the song's changing mood. And then there are the binaural tones that are included, latently, within the richly layered mix. It is such tones, the band claim, and proven through scientific research, that can heighten feelings of happiness. I guess this is similar to Paul Masvidal's use of an Amazonian tribe's Icaro on Cynic's last EP, 'Carbon-Based Anatomy', where music becomes a covertly therapeutic medium. A different approach for Jolly, of course, but a similar effect intended. Now that truly is progressive! Whether the inclusion of binaural tones succeeds in causing any degree of elation will, undoubtedly, vary between each listener and their susceptibility for being effected in a positive way by these subconsciously digested sounds but my conscious mind tells me that I like Jolly and their latest offering. A lot. And I did feel happier after listening to the album. Maybe my cognitive unconscious has been affected. Whether that's true or not, one thing I can unequivocally state is that Jolly have proved themselves a definite contender within the modern prog scene with an innovative, yet accessible, album.
Inside Out
Review by Mark Holmes
4th March 2013
1) Guidance Three; 2) Firewell
3) You Against the World
4) Aqualand and the 7 Suns
5) Dust Nation Bleak
6) Golden Divide
7) Guidance Four
8) Lucky
9) While We Slept in Burning Shades
10) Despite the Shell
11) As Heard on Tape
12) The Grand Utopia
"...a magnificent collection of eclectic, cross-genre compositions infused with genuinely progressive twists and turns."