Ever wonder what The Smashing Pumpkins might sound like if they dropped the grunge and embraced Yes, Gentle Giant, and Frank Zappa inspired progressive rock & jazz-fusion? Well, the zany New Jersey act Out of the Beardspace have seemingly done just that on their brand new release Out of the Beardspace III. This is quirky, offbeat stuff, filled with twisting time signatures, intriguing jazzy bits, noodling solo passages, gorgeous and quite poppy vocal harmonies, and some occasional metallic bursts, all from a bunch of young guys who met at the Cherry Hill, New Jersey chapter of the School of Rock. Whether it's the straight Canterbury styled prog of the "Train Ride Samba" suite (National Health meets Gryphon anyone?), the grungy prog of "Grungadelic" , or the ripping prog-fusion of "Jasmine", complete with some scorching Zappa/Petrucci styled guitar solos, there's intriguing music at just about ever corner. "Back to Now" channels vintage Genesis as well as early Spock's Beard, while the booming bass, sizzling guitar, jazzy sax, and soaring vocal harmonies of "Twenty-Seven" are a can't miss for any prog fan.
"Red Moon" has a certain symphonic flair to it, though it's pretty heavy all things considered, and the hilariously titled "Hot Sauce After Dark" once again sees the band's jazz leanings coming to the forefront. In fact, the jazz elements pop up quite a bit, especially on some of the albums shorter tracks, which kind of act as segues to the longer pieces. In that aspect, a good portion of the album comes across like some of Frank Zappa's early-mid '70s releases, with brief tracks of jazzy quirkiness leading into more structured and thought out pieces. It's a nice touch and helps the album move along quite nicely. "Open Chocolate" and "Nivels" for instance are two fun little numbers that bridge the gap to the bombastic "Kwisatz Haderach" and the intricate prog of "Arizona", two lengthier tracks which close out this eclectic album.
Out of the Beardspace III is a CD that will take some time for all of the hidden nuances to reveal themselves and fully sink in. Truth be told, those into more song oriented prog-rock might get a tad frustrated with all the genre busting and varied styles going on here, but the band have to be credited for creating a recording that's pretty unique sounding, despite all their influences popping up from time to time. It's music that will hit you from every corner and blast at you from every direction, but in the end that's what makes it so much fun and so challenging at the same time.
How Could You Know? 01:49
Intro to Train Ride Samba 01:13
Train Ride Samba (Parts I and II) 04:58
Rest, Part III 00:51
Back to Now 03:52
Red Moon 04:26
Hot Sauce After Dark 03:59
Open Chocolate 01:23
Kwisatz Haderach 07:30