Intodown “Brave New World”

Album Reviews | Jan 1st, 2008

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Record Label: S/R
Genre: Prog Rock
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I get blamed for being biased and hating certain genres. That’s only partly true. Sure, I consistently say that I hate emo, pretentious hipster music, and boring people with acoustic guitars. But in reality, I can like anything so long as it’s either fun and enjoyable, well-constructed and intelligent, or unique and interesting. A combination of those characteristics is ideal and transcends bias.

Intodown manage to hit all those pleasure centers and therefore avoid categorization as dull, self-indulgent indie rock. In fact, they are anything but. They’re pure progressive with roots reaching down to the beginnings of progressive – you can say they’re a prog rock version of Miles Davis.

But first let me mention that the band seems to be mostly one chap, Michael Clark, who wrote all the songs and plays guitar. You wouldn’t realize it by listening to the album and appreciating the tight bass-drums-guitar interplay, but the other roles have rotating musicians.

The songwriting is solid. They have an improvisational live studio feel, but it all comes together so well, like, again, a good Miles Davis album (a couple of songs also includes great trumpet work, by the way). But also impressive is the guitarwork, which doesn’t riff, but plays one long, mournful solo. It reminds me of the last two sides of Joe’s Garage, particularly Warren Cucurullo’s Watermelon in Eastern Hay. There are also touches of surf and spy-film in their music, lending more 60s tones to their sound.

There are a couple of slips: the only vocal work is some irritating whispering here and there, reminding me of Rush’s “Necromancer”, but not in a good way. Their 20-minute opus “Fire” is brilliant, but the 11-minute “Nostradamus” is less so; and the last track “The Return” is a waste of time with 5 minutes of cinematic effects.

Otherwise, this is an impressive instrumental album that fuses well the best elements of progressive jazz, Zappa-like guitar, and moody Pink Floyd-like stoner/prog rock.

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