“Reality- I’ve never been a fan”
There’s an indefinable “something” that makes an album a masterpiece; and sometimes that prevents it from being one.
Kurdt Vanderhoof – Guitars
Chuck Campbell – Vocals
Kerry Shacklett – Keyboards
Bobby Ferkovich – Bass
Charlie Lorme – Drums
The Days Between
Released December 14, 2018
- Out Of Mind (It’s Outta Sight) [6:29]
- Earthbound [3:57]
- Tip Of The Hat [ 5:47]
- I Just Drive [ 6:22]
- Hard Times For Dreamers [ 7:30]
- I Am Wire [10:09]
- The Man With The Plastic Face [7:00] (Bonus track CD Version)
- Brand New Minute [4:57] (Bonus track on the download card that comes with vinyl edition)
There’s a lot to like
Tight ensemble playing. Interesting arrangements, and the twists and turns progressive rock fanatics tend to love. Musicianship that rises above. Crisp, clean production. Strong melodies, hooks, hummable choruses. Instrumental passages that soar, then recede, only to soar again.
Out of Mind (It’s Outta Sight):
Presto Ballet returned with this, their fifth studio album and it opens with strength playing to strength- a fine, commanding intro leading to full band, with the high, husky vocals from Chuck. Crisp, spot-on drumming, gutsy guitars by Kurdt, an array of keyboard sounds from Charles, solid bass guitar work from Bobby.
I found myself turning the volume knob “up”, wanting to hear more, and engage more in the sound.
Again, the vigor, the hard-rocking energy, and in the instrumental passage, a great trade-off between guitar and synthesizer. To these ears this is heavy-progressive music, although the band defines itself as neo-progressive, while on another site, it’s called crossover progressive music (!)
Tip of the Hat:
The pace and intensity slows- a bit- then picks right back up, and slows again. Great instrumental passage with soaring synthesizers leading the way. There are gentle vocals and a sing-able chorus.
Here the lovely piano work dominates, sweeping, beautiful. There are impeccable vocals and harmonies- “Keeping my hands on the wheel/ trying to learn not to feel.”
And crystal acoustic guitar strumming to close, with treated electric guitar tones overhead.
Although I didn’t have access to lyrics, what I could catch seemed to suggest a focus on connecting, and the transcendence through music, of the human spirit. This track established an image of missed connections, and a sense of resignation- “Just drive”.
Hard Time for Dreamers:
In my notes, I put: (No Kidding!).
Here, there is a fine, agile opening leading to some strong guitar licks. Those Hammond organ growls always make me smile, and the all-too-brief mellotron passage.
I Am Wire:
Here, the band pushes into slightly more futuristic territory, with foreboding synthesizer opening, the spooky vocals, into organ arpeggios until the full band kicks in. These tunes are well written and arranged.
“Too much information/ and it’s clogging up my head”- anyone with a “smart” device knows this is true.
And one of the loveliest, dreamiest passages on the album, sailing on lead by the synthesizer, building, growing, then receding slowly back to futuristic synthesizer sounds closing the track, and the album proper.
PS: I didn’t have access to the bonus tracks, “The Man with the Plastic Face”, and “Brand New Minute”.
So, back to reality, and the undefinable “something”
Certainly a lot to like, yet there was something about the whole, that didn’t stick, didn’t stand out, didn’t impress.
There was something impersonal, although the lyrics I could capture spoke of relevant, important matters. No clear personality emerged, nothing that grabbed me by the throat- volume turned up to ten, or down to four.
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