Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Under the Psycamore

Welcome back once again progheads!  The journey through the concert closet continues...this week was a bit odd for me; I started out intending to review a band that was more "entrenched" in the prog scene and thus spent several days listening to some great music as result.  However; in doing so I stumbled across a group I had no prior knowledge of or appreciation for.  Suddenly I realized why I started this blog in the first place--to discover mind-blowing music that would get me back in touch with the kid who couldn't stop playing "In The Court Of The Crimson King" when he first bought it.  I could ramble on for days but I believe you would prefer I get to the point.  While Mother Nature continued to wreak havoc on most of the country this week, I spent my time in Sweden listening to a remarkable band...Under The Psycamore.

Under The Psycamore is a prog band with roots firmly planted in the garden of classic prog yet their sound is amazingly new, unique, and innovative.  This is a band that not only respects where progressive music came from, it also pushes the boundaries and alters the path of where prog is headed.  Under The Psycamore is the type of band that all at once makes me wish I played guitar and realize why I chose to simply play the stereo instead; although I do believe my appreciation for progressive music is steeped in an understanding of what it takes to be this good.  OK...on with the review...

My first slice of Under The Psycamore is a song called "Celestial."  The subtle opening is almost dishonest; this songs packs more punch than most metal bands can pump through a set of speakers without ever pushing the needle to red.  The guitars cast a net over the song that holds everything else in place.  The drums are dialed in to absolute perfection and the vocals--ahhh, the vocals!  Smoother than virgin silk and stronger than a shot of Maker's Mark, the impression left on the ears will not soon be forgotten.  Under The Psycamore has drawn a line in the proverbial sand that only the strong, talented, and confident will dare to cross.

Serving number two from this prog feast is called "Amalthea."  Under the Psycamore is not a throwback so much as a bridge to the next generation in prog.  The song opens in one direction only to switch course in less than a minute.  Listening to Under The Psycamore fills the air with aromas akin to Tool, Porcupine Tree, 1980's King Crimson, Yes, and even a hint of Uriah Heep.  The smooth guitar tracks seem to flow through the speakers like so much honey poured over a hot biscuit.

Liner Notes...Under The Psycamore is Jonathan Greiff on drums, bass, and backing vocals, and Carl Blomqvist on lead vocals and guitars.  Tora Greiff Bergstrom is credited on the band's website for playing the cello as well.  Their debut album "I" was released through Trey Gunn's 7D Media label.  Under The Psycamore has an uncanny ability to layer soft acoustics with metal guitar, strong drum output, and vocals that run a range from Jon Anderson smooth to John Wetton "not-so-smooth."  The sound is unique and marvelous all at once...I simply did not want to stop listening.

The final serving from this week's sound feast is "Chant Des Baleines."  This song features the aforementioned Trey Gunn playing Warr Guitar...evidently Trey had more than simply producing an album on his mind when he reached out to Jonathan and Carl.  This song is like a fine scotch; you savor it slowly and it grows on you immediately.

The clip posted here is a preview of the "I" album.  I lamented over posting this as opposed to a specific song...this won out mainly because there is no better way to sample excellence than small servings of every option.  Give your ears, heart, and mind a listen they won't soon forget and you can thank me later.  I encourage all fans of true progressive music to check out the Under The Psycamore website at http://underthepsycamore.com/.

This week's journey was an extraordinary stroll through some astounding music.  Under The Psycamore has managed to capture the essence of what prog was meant to be and carry it proudly like an Olympic torch into the 21st century.  Next week's itinerary is not yet mapped out although I am certain it will lead me to yet another remarkable location with out-of-this world prog...but first I have to get back from Sweden.  Until next week...

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