May 25, 2024

Intravenous progressive rock to make you feel warm and buzzy

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I was never one for standing up at gigs unless I was wasted on vodka and it was all about moshing. The amount of vodka I used to drink though wasn’t good for the complexion, so I had to stop. Consequently I find drinking beer has a depressing effect on me, and even when I like the band, standing up all evening is a bit of a chore, not good for the knees and I get a sore back, and people are just so rude and pushy at these things, that I get to the point that I feel like someone should be paying me to do this.

So, then, the biggest accolade I could pay to ‘Adore//Repel’ is that I would just love to listen them play in a huge stadium, rocking the place out to their poignant, melancholic, progressive rock (at the moment they seem to be resigned to playing on the top of houses). I wouldn’t be standing with the sweaty masses mind, I’d be elevated thirty/forty foot above by a tensile steel wire attached to a crane, parked outside the stadium, in a Chesterfield’s sofa with loved ones or friends, with a giant mug of Cocoa, and loads of chocolate and ginger chip biscuits (that tensile wire would have to have been tested).

Just for a second lets just get out of the way the fact that Adore//Repel is a handful to type – what is it about these progressive rock bands who need to flout common punctuation conventions and spelling, see happyness and sleepmakeswaves???

But anyway, the point is, the main point is that Adore’s Empty Orchestra LP is a great progressive rock album. Progressive rock is a funny term, that I’ve waxed unlyrically on elsewhere, but whilst this album, like most progressive rock albums could have been written any time between now and when John Peel started playing Rock of Travolta at the dawning of the century, this is clearly a class album.

It is a rich blend of soaring riffs and melancholy motifs, that remind you of the past, ten years ago, or some kind of era that you never lived through, which you think about with fondness. Like classical music the aim is to repeat, modify, repeat, modify, come back full circle, and do it all over again. And when it works, as it works here, it works beautifully.

‘Stick in the Crow’ is a funny track though. It has singing in it, if you can call it singing, it sounds like the desperate cry of someone half-choking, half screaming for help (hence ‘stick in the crow’ perhaps). Perhaps they went a bit too fast on the biscuits (I know the feeling). So, Adore//Repel= death metal meets Pink Floyd.

I’m not sure bands who specialise in progressive rock should try too much singing, unless they’ve got something special to offer. Progressive rock should be like an instrumental ride through the rapids, which is what Adore mostly provide, the last thing you want is someone trying to explain something to you or worst still talking about nothing (see for example happyness) whilst you are enjoying the ride.

Progressive rock then, or post-rock as some call it, has a few protagonists who have been releasing stuff lately. sleepmakeswaves, released an album a few months back. The album, called Made of Breath Only saw the band journey down the post-rock highway. Unfortunately it was a journey that the band sometimes lost their way on. The album was a bit ADHD, they were here, then there. They were repeating and mastering some of the great progressive rock riffs and sounds, but without any concern for a thread or a theme. Adore, on the other hand, have a definite direction, or journey that they’re going in. Its a rollocking, buzzing rise over the rapids, like I said, with melancholy and euphoric bits inbetween. Its like a life story retold.

Whenever you listen to bit of progressive rock these days you need to compare it with Civil Civic, who came up with something quite clean, quite unique just a year or so ago. In comparison, Civil Civic are much better produced, they have booming clean sounds, there is so much colour in the music of Civil Civic, and its got so much more energy in it. Its the most extravert form of progressive rock, I’d say, most is introverted. As our very own Ross McGibbon explained, Civil Civic go large with the bass. Its a big sound.

In contrast Adore//Repel draw much more on the Seattle guitar sound, which formed the platform for a new wave of progressive rock from the 1990s forwards, most of which, sadly has been lost in the mists of time.I love Civil Civic, but somehow all they represent to me is a great big set of crayons, something childlike. Adore//Repel though could sustain me walking up and down the High Street (its a rough world out there) and make me feel that this whole damned experience, that everything about life, was something just so important, make me feel so thankful for being alive. Like watching trailers of BBC wildlife programmes to Hoppipolla,  something which Empty Orchestra sometimes pay a nod too on several occasions.

And of course no discourse (!? I though this was a freakin album review?) on progressive rock should end without a listen to Rock of Travolta.


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