Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Aaron Clift Experiment

Here we go again fellow progheads; time for another dose of all things prog.  Specifically--and for a second straight week--all things symphonic prog.  Last week's taste from the "full sound" section of the prog garden left me with a hankerin' for more...so I took the Concert Closet on a trip to Austin, Texas this week for an alternate interpretation of symphonic prog with a band called The Aaron Clift Experiment.

Comparing themselves to scientists using knowledge to explore the unknown, The Aaron Clift Experiment
"...combines elements of classic and cutting-edge music into an innovative whole."  Never one to pass up an opportunity to grow both intellectually and musically, I am fervent to jump right in.  The energy level in the Concert Closet picks up a notch or two as I prepare the ears and mind for a week of schooling...

My first serving from this week's buffet is a song called "Staring at Fruit Out of Reach."  I will admit the title lured me in--but the music was worth taking the bait.  The opening starts out almost church-like with keyboards, drums, and percussion working together to build a background reminiscent of Supertramp in their "Crisis? What Crisis?" days.  I also pick up top notes of Gentle Giant and The Strawbs; a somber sound wrapped around lyrics that dig deep when you sit back and listen.  The Aaron Clift Experiment strikes a nerve right away; I sense a week of cerebral musical enjoyment--pleasing as well as entertaining for the ears and mind, a true prog experience...

Serving number two is a tune called "Arsonist Games."  The song opens in a dark mood, but that should come as no surprise.  Almost ominous as the curtain is drawn back, The Aaron Clift Experiment once again digs below the frost line with the lyrics, layering them with keyboards and guitars that drive right through the spine.  If Steely Dan alums Becker and Fagen were able to escape the pitfalls of ego and heroin at their peak and join forces with Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson,  this might have been their sound.  Aaron Clift is quite adept at bringing a pulse to each song, giving the listener an opportunity to experience it coming to life.

Liner Notes...The current Aaron Clift Experiment is Aaron Clift on vocals and keyboards, Eric Gutierrez on guitar, Joe Resnick on drums, and Joe Green on bass.  As with many a band, there have been line-up changes...however this current quartet seems to have it dialed in.  Aaron has penned some very intense and deep lyrics, but what really makes it work is Joe, Eric, and Joe immediately grabbing the song by the heart and pumping life into it.  You can almost feel a presence in the room as sound emerges from the speakers. The Aaron Clift Experiment enters the prog garden from an entirely different vantage point.  I imagine the tape in a recording studio to be much like the canvas on an artist's easel with all the promise, vision, hope, and expectation about to be splashed upon it.  Ironically, what makes listening to The Aaron Clift Experiment stimulating is the peace I come away with afterward...

My third serving carved from this buffet is called "Seven."  Opening bolder than previous cuts, the song methodically curls into an emotional ball.  The band paints with some bright colors that go gray as darkness moves in and the mood turns cold and murky.  Although they never quite cross into the darkness of their other tunes, you get the feeling The Aaron Clift Experiment likes walking that fine edge.

The clip posted below is a live piece called "Shipwrecked."  Focused on the music--as most progheads
are-- you get a sense that The Aaron Clift Experiment is deceptively talented.  The keyboard opening feels like a storm about to hammer your living room, and then guitars move in with the drums to steady the ship and bring a bit of balance...nicely done.  Learn more about The Aaron Clift Experiment at http://aaronclift.com/

As school season creeps closer to the horizon, the Concert Closet will return to weekly postings.  Summer is but a short window and I have certainly packed a lot into it...continuing my search for all things prog staying high on the list.  The Aaron Clift Experiment was a fun stop on the journey, a band that comes at you with strong music and even stronger lyrics.  Now I must take the Concert Closet on another trip to search for yet another new prog adventure...until next week...  


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