Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Reverberations From The Happy Graveyard Orchestra

Warm greetings fellow progheads! Winter continues to keep a firm grasp on the thermostat but  I am hopeful the needle will soon start moving to the right.  In the meantime I am stoking the prog fire for a little extra heat...with that thought and a desire to relax a bit carrying me through the week, I am
re-visiting some old friends--Ivan Perilli and The Happy Graveyard Orchestra.

There is always something underfoot with this band; Ivan is a musician who refuses to take himself too seriously...but don't let the footloose, nutty exterior fool you--there is plenty of serious musician underneath all the frivolity.  The Concert Closet traveled to London twice last year specifically to spend time with this prog/avant-garde band; first in March and again in April when I was fortunate enough to interview Ivan and the band.  

The Happy Graveyard Orchestra are to prog today what Pink Floyd was in the late '60s; a shot of different.  Theirs is a unique approach to progressive music at a time when so many bands are
hell-bent on identifying with the standard-bearers.  Happy Graveyard Orchestra refuses to march in lock-step with the masses--they prefer instead to keep their own beat--which just happens to be one inconsistent half-step behind (or ahead of) the sound everyone else seems to be dialed into.

So let us march right up to that buffet and check out the latest release from Happy Graveyard Orchestra, "I'm the Waitress."  This is a two-song EP, so being logical-minded (sorry Ivan) I am starting with the title cut.  The bass line hits you first...then the vocals...then some drumming...then some more vocals...and suddenly a beat comes out of nowhere sounding like a jazz guitar improv session, and I realize this is just par for the course with HGO.  Peel back the layers of this song; go under the vocals, past the pulsating bass; dig below the drumming and you discover something serious going on behind the mask of absurdity.  Happy Graveyard Orchestra has packed so much into less than four minutes you need more than one listen to capture and appreciate it all.  Horns float through the piece like cotton candy strings caught in a breeze; I feel Andy Mackay being channeled through my headphones, and there are top notes of Talking Heads wafting in the air.  

Moving down the line, I bump right into the other slice on this release, "The Moon Rabbit."  The opening is very reminiscent of earlier Happy Graveyard Orchestra work, right down to the oboe. Happy Graveyard Orchestra starts down the ambient path with this tune and then veers right as they give in to their inner Ebn Ozn, put everything in a Cuisinart, and pour the concoction out like so much hot fudge on an ice cream sundae.  

I am intrigued by Happy Graveyard Orchestra's minimalist approach to the prog genre.  There are no multi-layers of over dubbed sound, nothing ornate. The music is laid out for you the listener to simply experience for yourself.  Like a dry wine, Happy Graveyard Orchestra is best savored in small sips at first..rolled around on the tongue and ingested intentionally.  Watch the music slither back down into the glass when you are done swirling it around...

Liner Notes...Happy Graveyard Orchestra has expanded its membership since my last writings.  The band still consists of Ivan Perilli on bass and cryptic vocals, Debbie Teo on oboe and pitched percussion, Saif Ur-Rehman on steam punk guitar, and Pablo Verez Vich on drums.  Joining this quartet are Kasjusz Lipkowski on saxophone and Gabriella Graziano on vocals.  Happy Graveyard Orchestra is now a party of six haunting the local scene in and around London.

Check out the Happy Graveyard Orchestra website http://happygraveyardorchestra.co.uk/ to learn more about the band and what makes them tick.  You can find their music for sale here, on
Spotify https://play.spotify.com/album/7jxe20LmovyoNIDcLTBDUK?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open
and iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/album/id980752981.  Happy Graveyard Orchestra has  a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HappyGraveyardOrchestra/ where you can find links to songs and other band information.  Of course, you can always follow them on Twitter for the latest rants, thoughts, musings, and other assorted randomness @HappyGraveyardO

OK fellow progheads, we are just about one-twelfth of the way through 2016.  Despite the absolute disbelief at how fast time seems to fall off the calendar, I am pleased with what the Concert Closet has unearthed thus far.  The prog garden is rich with fertile soil and continues to expand on its crop. Walking the rows I see many off shoots of the genre that have helped shape the garden into what is best described as a melange of sound.  Artists like Happy Graveyard Orchestra push the boundaries while never really leaving the couch--using minimalist ideas and expanding on Jamie Muir's ability to pull music--not just sound--from any inanimate object.

In my never ending search for all things prog, Happy Graveyard Orchestra represent an important part of the life cycle of the prog garden because they don't allow themselves to be hemmed in by someone else's definition of what prog is.  Instead, HGO expands on the theme and pushes the limits, taking you two steps past the imaginary safety net you erected...

Yes, prog is alive and well and my search for all things prog marches on...until next week...

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