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Abney Park: The End of Days
Abney Park is a Seattle – based band, who got their start in 1997, under "Dread Captain" Robert Brown, who is also the lead vocalist, songwriter, diatonic button accordion, harmonica, and darbuka player. The band includes Kristina Erickson, keyboards and piano; Nathaniel Johnstone, guitars, violin, mandolin, and bouzouki; Daniel Cederman on bass and acoustic guitar; with Jody Ellen providing vocals. Guest artists include, Richard Lopez on trombone and auto flute; Cary Rayburn, vintage muted trumpet; and Erica Mulkey, from the band Unwoman, on cello.
This is the latest album from the band. The evolution of the band, with Jody playing more of a role on stage and with her vocals is a nice transition. The band seems very confident and ready to take on the world with their recent appearance at the Wild, Wild, West Convention in Tucson Arizona. Hopefully the story will continue to unfold with as much passion and thrills as the story so far.
"The End of Days" opens with didgeridoo, pounding drums and percussion. There is a cool violin and Jody's vocals soaring above the pounding industrial rhythm. It's as if you've been transported into the world of Thunderdome. "Nomadic tribes of the last of man pull the caravans across the sand. The survivors of man stay up late and pray that the world will be theirs one day". That didgeridoo is wonderful and adds to the power of the rhythm. Despite the title we're off to another great start.
The caravan continues to move across the desert as "Neobedouin" gets under way. This time instead of pounding rhythms, let the dance begin. Clapping and violin as if dancing around the fire. This band seriously knows how to capture and use the power of a full percussion assault. Jody and Robert team up to sing us the story. The violin solos lift the production to amazing heights.
A bold pirate like instrumental opens "The Wrath of Fate". Another great pirate story, this time with chimes interweaved with the power percussion and electric guitar. With Jody helping more on vocals the band seems to take on a new identity. It sounds more like a crew. Those bold pirate sound effects and keys really map the journey well.
"I've Been Wrong Before" is another fun song from Robert's lyrical and vocal arsenal. The drums and Jody playful singing in the background create a fantastic spirit. The drums and accordion play along.
The door locks and the combination spins as all sorts of metal and other sound effects fill the air for the 21 seconds of "Inside the Cage".
"They won't catch me, I won't make a sound", so it's "Fight or Flight". Great guitar solos and drum rhythms fill this song with full on pounding, along with Robert's vocal. Kristina's keys are showcased well on this song. Sort of a break between "I've Been Wrong" and the next song.
"Victorian Vigilante" is another of the best songs on the album. With a title like this you know they mean business. Jody joins in the fun and sounds like 'Bonnie' to Robert's 'Clyde'. A song full of attitude, but that vintage muted trumpet keeps it fun. "I stand waiting and I'm on the attack". Bet they have allot of fun acting this out on stage.
More sound effects and early jazz music playing in the background as the "Chronofax" advertisement plays. "Send letters through time".
The most powerful song on the album is "Letter between a Little Boy & Himself as an Adult". Imagine a boy corresponding back and forth with himself as an adult using the Chronofax. That's the story, and Jody and Robert do a fantastic job of telling it lyrically and in song. Erica's cello is a wonderful addition and brings great sympathy to the sound. Kristina's piano is stellar and the violin and drum support lifts this song to the top. "Now I am awake!"
More Middle Eastern sounds and rhythms as another great song, "Beautiful Decline" opens. Back out on the desert again, with solid drums, synths, chimes and the power of Robert's delivery of the sad lyrics. Another of the best songs on the album. Jody does a fantastic job of bouncing off Robert's deep voice with her soft and elegant female vocals. Some of the best drum rhythms the band has produced yet.
"Off the Grid" romps off to a fast start like something from a jazzy silent movie soundtrack or the circus. Loads of fun as we get a chance to get off the grid. The violin and great vocals from Robert and Jody mix well with that solid drum rhythm. Kristina's piano is dancing all over the production. Are you dancing yet?
"To the Apocalypse in Daddy's Sidecar" is one of the most interesting songs on the album. More of that Middle – Eastern feel with pulsing drums. Imagine the image in the title. Deep power drums and what sounds like an orchestra behind them. Jody and Robert trading vocal sounds during the refrain. Yeah, you feel like you're there in a dark sky cloudscape.
Turning clock - like and spaghetti Western sounds and drama build for "Space Cowboy", the closer. Robert's almost whispering the lyrics. Kristina is dynamite on keys while the clanging percussion drives on. Then that big bold Western guitar solo. Just magnificent. Ready to watch the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
1."The End of Days" - 3:24
2."Neobedouin" - 3:41
3."The Wrath of Fate" - 3:05
4."I've Been Wrong Before" - 2:54
5."Inside the Cage" - 0:21
6."Fight or Flight" - 3:15
7."Victorian Vigilante" - 4:12
8."Chronofax" - 0:32
9."Letters Between a Little Boy and Himself as an Adult" - 3:47
10."Beautiful Decline" - 4:04
11."Off the Grid" - 2:36
12."To The Apocalypse in Daddy's Sidecar" - 4:02
13."Space Cowboy" - 3:11
Added: March 25th 2011
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Band Website
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