Once again fellow progheads I have taken the concert closet traveling...this week home is but a red arrow on a Google map as I cashed in several frequent flyer miles for an overdue trip. One of the many positive benefits of progressive music is its refusal to recognize borders, time zones, climate, or any other restrictive man-made excuse to keep prog from the masses. Luckily it does recognize the value of the Internet...so this week I hunkered down in my window seat for a long trip to the Netherlands and a chance to explore the sounds of Minor Giant.
Minor Giant takes prog in yet another direction, flowing as smoothly as a Transatlantic/Spock's Beard weekend jam session. New to the prog scene and about to release their debut CD, Minor Giant refers to themselves simply as a progressive rock band. I like the minimal reality of that statement; no frills, no muss, no fuss. Let's have a listen, shall we?
The first offering on this week's prog menu is called "On The Road," and I decide to jump right in. The keyboard opening to the song is almost reminiscent of an unplugged Emerson, Lake, and Palmer intro...and moves quickly to a full, headlong ride as drums and keyboards fill the sound out. The vocals come in smoothly like a dry martini on a summer night. Definite top notes of Camel and Transatlantic on this tune; for a newcomer Minor Giant seems highly educated and well versed. Hmm...me thinks I will be avoiding jet lag this week...
Sampling number two is a tune called "Hand In Hand." The song opens methodically with guitars and keyboards building a kindred bond that is held together with some tight drumming. The vocals come in and suddenly everyone is moving around the soundscape. If there is a void in the prog garden Minor Giant fills it quite aptly...with eyes closed I pick up hints of Porcupine Tree and early Genesis. Listening to Minor Giant hearkens back to an evening with Yes in the round; remember those days? Everyone in the band has a specific role and attacks it with fervor.
Liner Notes...Minor Giant is currently Roy Post on drums and percussion, Rindert Lammers on keyboards, Jordi Repkes on guitar and vocals, Rik van Dommelen on bass and vocals, and Jos Heijmans on keyboards and vocals. Minor Giant started growing in the prog garden back in 2010, spending the next four years writing, recording, performing, and putting countless hours into fine tuning their sound. What started as Rindert's vision has come full circle as Minor Giant plans to release "On The Road" later this month. This is a semi-concept album, dealing with different roads people choose in life and the consequences--good and bad--those choices carry.
My final listen this week is a tune called "The Last Road." Sounding like a spiritual kick in the heart, the drums and keyboards come right at you. Jordi keeps pace with excellent guitar work as the song gels into a beautiful piece that climbs inside your head and tugs at the emotional side of your brain. Vocals seep through about five minutes into the song...making the last road the right choice. Minor Giant shows strong influences of classic prog yet is able to harness a sound all their own. The four years it took to cultivate, nurture, encourage, and create this sound was definitely time well spent. Minor Giant will without doubt go on to expand its musical library, and "On The Road" is an outstanding first entry in the catalog.
The clip below is called "Dreams With Eyes Wide Open." I chose this after listening to several pieces because Minor Giant shines on several fronts. The intro takes me back to Dream Theater's "Scenes From A Memory;" music on a subconscious level. Minor Giant once again moves seamlessly into a an instrumental barrage that comes from all corners of the stereo landscape and hits you firmly yet gently between the ears. The flow to this piece is as fluid as mountain run-off on that first warm January day. Savor this piece again and again...learn more about Minor Giant at http://www.reverbnation.com/minorgiant.
Time to wind down once again fellow progheads, as seven more days land in the "spent" column....while I don't enjoy how fast 168 hours tick off the clock, I take solace in the fact that I used most of them doing prog research. Minor Giant pulls off a difficult feat; playing to many different prog tastes while avoiding being "pigeon-holed." Prog fans across the garden; young, old, stubborn, open-minded, with a preference for metal, jazz, classic, fusion--choose your adjective...there is something for everyone.
A plane warming up on the tarmac tells me to get back to searching for more untilled earth in the prog garden...until next week...