Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stone Umbrella

Good evening and welcome back fellow progheads!  Moving deeper into October, I realize the morning air is crisper, the evening sky is darker, and the leaves that have not fallen are screaming with color.  Focused on that thought and its repercussions, I turned up the heat in The Concert Closet, pulled on a long sleeve fleece, set the auto-pilot for all things prog...and found myself sailing toward Sweden, taken by the sounds of Stone Umbrella.

Stone Umbrella is to prog today what Klaatu was to rock 'n' roll in the 70's; extreme talent, distinctive sound, not caught up the hype...and bursting with energy.  Stone Umbrella is self-described as "...sometimes weird, sometimes calm, sometimes heavy, and progressive..."  This has all the makings of bizarre, high-energy serenity filling the Concert Closet, so let us start with dessert for a change and open the prog buffet with some "Candy From a Clown." As the title suggests, I am immediately taken to an eerie carnival, where the calliope sounds like an ominous church choir.  This is my kind of circus.  The keyboards blend with the guitar work to paint a scene reminiscent of a Stephen King novella...even the vocals stir up images of a circus barker leading kids into a big top filled with unsuspecting mayhem...this must be what high-energy serenity is...

For serving number two I switch gears, moods, and time changes for a more refined piece called "The Visitor."  This is broken into three parts and truly is a world away from the circus.  Stone Umbrella tends more than one section of the prog garden; the macabre, the intense, and the cerebral.  This piece hits you like a velvet hammer; it may not leave a physical mark, but you are never quite the same afterward.

Liner Notes...Hailing from Sweden, Stone Umbrella is a one-man gig--the "evil genius" behind the curtain is Pekka Karjalainen.  Having been involved in music since the age of fourteen, Pekka took up residence in the prog world circa 2005.  Stone Umbrella has strong hints of Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and  Pink Floyd blended with top notes of Beardfish, Alan Parson's Project, and Spock's Beard...which is to say Stone Umbrella has roots all over the prog garden.  Stone Umbrella was born from Pekka's science fiction writing in 2009.  As a fan of concept albums with a strong like for instrumentals, Pekka felt led to put together what he calls "movie soundtracks without the movies."  If there were to be a prog documentary film of sorts, perhaps Stone Umbrella could provide the soundtrack...

My final selection this week is a song called "Escape."  You can feel the tension as the song opens; a desire to break out and run, free and fast.  The keyboards build on emotion and the guitar creeps in adding fuel to a slowly burning fire...but the raw explosion you expected emerges almost innocently, like a smoldering brush fire.  Bursts of raw energy suddenly seep through the headphones--a battle of sorts. The naive laughter dares the anger in you to settle down and relax as the fracas for control continues.  Yes, Stone Umbrella can command your emotions to jump through hoops with every time change...and somehow you feel better for it.

The clip below is a little different for the Concert Closet...not so much a single cut as a preview of the earlier mentioned concept EP "The Visitor."  Stone Umbrella plays with a serious intensity while at the same time reminding the listener (and himself) not to get too caught up in our own little worlds.  Learn more about Stone Umbrella at http://stone-umbrella.com/ and follow Pekka on Twitter at @StoneUmbrellaSE

One more week, one more stop on the Concert Closet "Prog World Tour."  Sweden seems to be fertile ground for progressive bands that seep through your pores and pump through your veins. Stone Umbrella doesn't grab you so much as embrace you, and before you realize it you just absorbed a whole new experience.  Time to carbo-load and move this search for all things prog onward...until next week...

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