Aaron Clift Experiment, The: Outer Light, Inner Darkness
When I think of Austin, Texas it doesn't strike me as a hotbed of progressive rock but with The Aaron Clift Experiment, a band completely new to me, that is exactly what you get. They released their debut Lonely Hills in 2012 and this month their cleverly titled second album Outer Light, Inner Darkness will see the light of day.
In the band are:
Aaron Clift (vocals, keyboards, organ, grand piano)
Eric Gutierrez (guitar, mandolin)
Devin North (bass guitar, double bass)
Joe Resnick (drums, percussion)
There are also a few guests providing violin, viola and cello.
This is a concept album about duality, which becomes clear enough given the album's title. The beginning tunes deal with these contrasts in opposite forces which are often detrimental to our well-being while the latter ones provide insight in how we can heal these wounds. It strikes me as something a little different, far away from the sci-fi that is so common for the genre.
The music is melodic progressive rock, quite accessible and extremely well played. Some might call this crossover prog but however you define it there is no doubting this is intelligently played and very easy to digest as it is not overly complicated. That said, there are definitely twists and turns with seamless transitions and outstanding musicianship. At times there is a jazzier sound such as the off kilter piano chords in "Your Arms Hold Them to the Dark", an incredibly dramatic and dense tune that transforms from lighter moments into immensely dark and heavy riffs. The first track "Kissed by the Sun" has a hint of Rush and Porcupine Tree with heavier riffs during the chorus, pleasing vocals and prominent bass and violin. "Fragments of Sleep" features fuzzy guitar leads, lush violin and cello and a vocal arrangement reminiscent of Gentle Giant. Great riffs and cleaner quieter moments with lovely lead vocals highlight the uplifting "Aoide, Goddess of Song", a true melodic gem while the twelve minute "Moonscape" is a gentle slice of progressive rock with excellent guitar and keyboards. The sound is crisp and clean and the vocals sublime as they are throughout the disc. The riffs do get heavier and have a razor like sheen in the song's second half.
Outer Light, Inner Darkness is one of those albums that should appeal to rock fans across the board. I have to say I am very impressed and recommend this without hesitation.
1. Kissed by the Sun
3. Fragments of Sleep
4. Your Arms Hold Them to the Dark
5. Aoide, Goddess of Song
6. The Last Oasis
i. The Frontline
ii. Fool's Fate
iii. Outer Light, Inner Darkness
8. Bathed in Moonlight
9. Your Arms Hold Them to the Dark (acoustic version)
10. Kissed by the Sun (single version)
Added: September 17th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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