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Thread: FEATURED CD - Beardfish: Sleeping In Traffic - Parts 1 and 2

  1. #1
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    FEATURED CD - Beardfish: Sleeping In Traffic - Parts 1 and 2



    (Just because I saw them live last night.)

    Seems to me these guys prove that modern prog does not have to be either avant garde, or derivative. These guys are a bit third-wave, a bit jazzy, a bit Zappa-esque, pretty unconventional, and a lot of fun.

    PART 1 :

    This group initially seemed like another batch of prog neophytes bent on remaking a bygone era with none of the authenticity and little of the talent. How could one not be skeptical when, after all, there are approximately nine billion groups doing that exact thing at this very moment? But Beardfish offers a lot of its own ingredients to the stew. For one, for all the prog-isms, there's still plenty of unbridled rock 'n' roll rolling around in the grooves. "Sunrise" ends with some wailing that wouldn't be out of place on either a vintage Deep Purple or Uriah Heep album, and while bits such as "Afternoon Conversation" owe more than a little to vintage, theatrical King Crimson, "And Never Know" gets down to the business of, as they say, rockin' one's face off with originality and acumen. Naturally, Beardfish whips out the Epic (the 12-minute "Roulette," which arrives at the record's halfway point) and succeeds and even offers a bit of homage to Gentle Giant and Yes via "The Ungodly Slob." A pretty good showing from a band that's likely to supplant The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard in the latest wave of the progressive explosion. Nice work.

    Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin
    Score: 4 Stars

    PART 2 :

    Considering the second part of Beardfish's album was supposed to document the "night part" of the concept, one might have thought the songs on this platter would be darker in tone, emphasizing moodier soundcapes compared to the off-the-wall material that permeated the first disc. It should be noted that this is not the case here -- at all.

    Rather, Sleeping in Traffic - Part Two expands on the first album, retaining its eclectism from start to finish, even building on it. Still steeped in the roots of 70's progressive rock movement, Beardfish continue to produce all-encompassing material, often borrowing from the Zappa and Gentle Giant library and bordering on avant-garde at times. A song like "South of the Border", for instance, sees the band highlighting their sense of humour, as it is informed by a plethora of soundscapes, from the spoken vocal parts to its classic rock tendencies to the downright frightening instrumental wizardy (where blazing organs clash with oddly tuned guitar work) to its ever-funky rhythmic pattern.

    On the instrumental piece "Cashflow", they delve into full-on avant-garde territory, which might even be a challenge for the avid Zappa fan. At six minutes, it sees a multitude of sound experiments infused into quirky instrumental passages -- almost too much to take on first listen. Actually, the first and last songs only function as an intro and outro to the other six songs, as they both clock in at less than two minutes: the first tune is just a segment of warm melodies whilst the last one is a solemn piano bit fading into white noise.

    Then there are the more song-based yet equally bizarre numbers. "Into the Night" is like an excerpt of the tunes on part one, rightly so. The first part is filled with playful instrumental craze, while the second part is jazzier and darker conjuring up images of the night, ever so briefly. There is a unison solo happening towards the end, where agile melodies are interwoven and climax in typical Fripptonics fashion.

    The laidback, bass-centric "The Downward Spiral / Chimay" sees Rikard Sjoblom extracting ever-changing synth tones from his instrument, but there is also a soothing, dreamlike acoustic section complemented by beautiful percussion work. The clarity captured here is awe-inspiring. The husky bass intro of "The Hunter", arguably the band's most bizarre work, opens the track as rousing synths crash into the piece all too unexpectedly. Organs dominate, vocals of Sjoblom - intentionally so - continue to fluctuate between normal singing and the delirious, lunatic tones. The lyrics are equally mind-boggling: "It gives me satisfaction to see you scared and running | And when you bleed you bleed only for me | So peel back the skin of your skull | Cause I wanna see what's inside." The band is being terribly sarcastic it seems, and the ending of the song where lofty guitars and keyboars unite in order to form a cinematic experience is stupifying.

    Then of course there is the title track, merging the two discs beautifully, with common threads of melodies and themes. At over thirty-five minutes though, the song can be hard to internalise at one sitting, but one comes to experience its unity and flow upon repeat listens. This is basically the whole Beardfish sound captured on one tune, and it begins and ends exactly the same: with cold bass throbs cascading irregularly.

    A concept album about the 24 hours in a person's life, part one was about the day and this one is about the night, and a more challenging listen as well. It could also be said that this disc is unafraid to sound deliberately modern in parts, unlike the first album which is more loyal to the traditional prog sound.

    Both discs are highly recommendable; though, for obvious reasons, you're advised to start with part one.

    Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
    Score: 4 Stars
    http://www.seaoftranquility.org/revi...ontent&id=5121
    and
    http://www.seaoftranquility.org/revi...ontent&id=6403







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    Duncan

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  2. #2
    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
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    Picked these up in a trade and I don't think I've ever spun them in their entirety. Because of this thread, I'll think about it, but eventually I'll forget.
    "Corn Flakes pissed in. You ranted. Mission accomplished. Thread closed."

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  3. #3
    Actually my two least favorite Beardfish albums, in reverse order. Both are good though, and feature some really good material. I just think they made better albums both before and after these. Still very good though.

  4. #4
    Member Wounded Land's Avatar
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    Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two was my #1 album the year of its release. I thought that the compositions flowed really nicely into each other, and the moments of levity were well-placed and brought a good balance to the whole affair. Great singing, great playing that always maintains a live-in-the-studio feel...I'm not sure what's not to like about this record. To me, it's head and shoulders above their other albums (those that I've heard, at any rate).

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  5. #5
    Member Just Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by infandous View Post
    Actually my two least favorite Beardfish albums, in reverse order. Both are good though, and feature some really good material. I just think they made better albums both before and after these. Still very good though.
    Same here. I thought The Sane Day was great and was very much looking forward to more of the same. For some reason, and IMHO of course, they didn't get back on track until The Void.
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    chalkpie
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    Shrimpboat Captains these lads are............

  7. #7
    Matt! polmico's Avatar
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    Very, very good tracks throughout both discs. But, yeah, there is better Beardfish to be had.
    I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.

  8. #8
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Neither impress me as a whole. Part 1 is my preferred disc.
    No humor please, we're skittish.

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  9. #9
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Love both of them, but love the first two albums the best of their entire catalogue. Killer band, I was so disappointed when they couldn't come over to open for Dream Theater years ago, I was looking forward to seeing them.
    Prog, Metal and Classic rock reviews/interviews - www.velvetthunder.co.uk

  10. #10
    Progstreaming-webmaster Sunhillow's Avatar
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    I think that Part 1 was good, but nowhere as good as the brilliant and vastly underrated The Sane Day. Part 2 was IMO mostly meh and going-through-the-motions, and the 32 minute title track contains some of the most annoying circus-music I've ever heard.

    Rikard Sjoblom is very talented though, and I thought Destined Solitaire was a step up. I'm not convinced about either Mammoth or The Void though. Curious to see what this band will come up with next.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Sunhillow View Post
    the brilliant and vastly underrated The Sane Day.
    This is the only one of theirs I've kept, and even this I find to be somewhat long winded. To me they are a good, but never that great band.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  12. #12
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    Like them both, but they are a bit bloated and are not as good as some of their other ones.

  13. #13
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Part 1 is my fave and to this date, the only Beardfish album I currently own. I had Sane Day, Part 2 and Destined Solitare - traded 'em all.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Glenday View Post
    Seems to me these guys prove that modern prog does not have to be either avant garde, or derivative. These guys are a bit third-wave, a bit jazzy, a bit Zappa-esque, pretty unconventional, and a lot of fun.
    Exactly; and "The Sane Day" epitomises what you just wrote. Brilliant album! Their best to my ears. Their other works had many flows, though "Sleeping in Traffic: Part #1" is still a keeper.

    PS. Wouldn't call their music "unconventional" though...
    Macht das ohr auf!

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    Member thedunno's Avatar
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    I like the Sane day pt 1 a lot, although I thought it was a step down from the Sane day.
    Pt 2 contains some great tunes (cashflow, the hunter) but it also contains the 30 minute South of the Border. Funny the first time you hear it, annoying every time after.

    Destined Solitaire completely restored my faith in the band. Up there with the Sane day.

  16. #16
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    I remember a few years ago this group created a huge buzz here. There was a buzz about these Swedish groups like Black Bonzo and Beardfish for a good year or so. So because of the hype I downloaded (yes I paid for it) Part 2 and really liked it. Not sure why I picked "Part 2" but whatever. It had all the proggy adventurousness, and twists and turns, and blah blah that I love about symphonic/prog/rock. It had a lot of humor (in a juvenile kinda way) too. I played it a lot for a couple weeks. Then I DL'd "Part 1" and just didn't like it. I think I played it twice then filed it away to be forgotten. Part 1 just seemed boring. I'm glad I heard Part 2 before Part 1 or else I wouldn't have bothered going any further. To me it's good, third wave, prog. That's all, just good, 3rd wave prog and nothing more. Been years since I've played either album. Maybe I'll play Part 2 this weekend (on headphones, with a good buzz on).
    Last edited by Vic2012; 05-09-2014 at 06:47 AM.

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    I find Beardfish very frustrating: their albums have a lot of great music which is almost systematically ruined by some goofy moments that annoy the hell out of me! Those 2 albums are perfect examples of these two extremes, and I've never been able to enjoy them in their entirety.
    To make things worse, they started adding growls on the next album (another no-go for me!).
    The only album of theirs that I enjoy in its entirety is Mammoth: no goofy moments and no growling, although I'll admit that Mammoth is probably not a good representation of Beardfish's music, being less stylistically "all over the place" than previous albums.
    Not just a Genesis fanboy.

  18. #18
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    ruined by some goofy moments that annoy the hell out of me!
    There is one particular goofy moment on Part 2 that really surprised me. It didn't annoy me. I don't mind humor/goofy-ness in prog (Jethro Tull was the king of goofy/prog and I really love Tull). But that one particular goofy moment on Part 2 suprised me a lot. I once commented on it a few years ago and everyone clammed up and no one else commented on it. My initial impression was that they were trying to be a little too cute. But whatever, at least they're not taking "prog" too seriously.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Just Eric View Post
    Same here. I thought The Sane Day was great and was very much looking forward to more of the same. For some reason, and IMHO of course, they didn't get back on track until The Void.
    Well, my absolute favorite of theirs is Destined Solitaire, followed by The Sane Day.

  20. #20
    I think of the band in general as "original retro prog". I think they do a great job of melding their influences into a fairly unique combination using "classic" period sounds and instrumentation. The thing that I love so much about them and makes them my favorite prog band of the last 20 years or so is that they actually GROOVE and ROCK in much the same way that the great 70's prog and rock bands did. Something I can't say about just about any modern prog band, and pretty impressive for a group of pretty young Swedes.

  21. #21
    Member Just Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeFrog View Post
    I find Beardfish very frustrating: their albums have a lot of great music which is almost systematically ruined by some goofy moments that annoy the hell out of me! Those 2 albums are perfect examples of these two extremes, and I've never been able to enjoy them in their entirety.
    To make things worse, they started adding growls on the next album (another no-go for me!).
    The only album of theirs that I enjoy in its entirety is Mammoth: no goofy moments and no growling, although I'll admit that Mammoth is probably not a good representation of Beardfish's music, being less stylistically "all over the place" than previous albums.
    We are SOOOO opposite. I like Beardifsh specifically for the goofy moments and the growling is a huge plus!

    It's when they slide into, what I characterize, as the "straight NEO" stuff that I get turned off.
    Duncan's going to make a Horns Emoticon!!!

  22. #22
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    IMO, there is no NEO in Beardfish.

    Third wave, sure. But not NEO!
    http://www.progressiveears.org/forum...ogressive-Rock
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    Duncan

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  23. #23
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Yeah, nothing neo in these guys at all. "Cashflow" is borderline avant.
    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

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  24. #24
    Member Zalmoxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by infandous View Post
    Actually my two least favorite Beardfish albums, in reverse order.
    Actually two of my top three Beardfish albums (The Sane Day is in there as well).

  25. #25
    Member Just Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Glenday View Post
    IMO, there is no NEO in Beardfish.

    Third wave, sure. But not NEO!
    http://www.progressiveears.org/forum...ogressive-Rock
    Hmmm, while NEO may b e a stretch, although Sunrise is as NEO a track as I've ever heard, I wouldn't call these albums Third Wave either.

    Of those I've heard, The Sane Day is clearly Symphonic with Zappa-esque flourishes, these two here are, IMHO Neo, and The Void is Prog Metal. No secret which are my favorite.

    I did extensively sample The Mammoth and Destined Solitaire but neither captured my interest.
    Duncan's going to make a Horns Emoticon!!!

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