Originally released in 1989, In This Life was Thinking Plague's third album, at the time put out by ReR but now available on this reissue from Cuneiform Records. Though the first album to really gain the attention of the slowly growing progressive rock audience of the late 1980s/early 1990s, In This Life also marks the last time vocalist Susanne Lewis was featured within the band, as well as Bob Drake. Newly remastered by Mark fuller from the original stereo mixdown master, with the original track listing intact, In This Life can now be heard in its ultimate format.
The line-up at the time consisted of Mike Johnson (guitar), Bob Drake (drums/bass/violin), Susanne Lewis (vocals/guitar), Shane Hotle (keyboards), Maria Moran (bass/guitar), Mark Harris (woodwinds), and Lawrence Hsaugseth (clarinet). Thinking Plague were one of the originators of the Rock in Opposition (ROI) movement, incorporating elements of pop, folk, free jazz, and avant-garde into their brand of unusual progressive rock. "Lycanthrope", the opening track, is actually fairly, dare I say, 'accessible' for Thinking Plague, with some nice pop hooks sung by Lewis over some intelligent instrumentation, while "Run Amok" actually is pretty sedate despite it's title. Dark, menacing jazz and post-rock appears on "Malaise", and "Organism (Version II)" is a wild slice of avant-garde mayhem, with a wide assortment of instruments creating complex rhythms & off-kilter melodies that would come to be known as 'ROI'. Certainly not music for everyone, but those who have an adventurous taste for challenging music will without a doubt find much of interest in this track, as well as "Love", another bizarre yet intriguing piece, with enchanting vocal segments, leathery bass, strange keyboard sounds, and metallic guitars. "The Guardian" approaches some of the more zany, experimental works of Frank Zappa at times, though more symphonic, and "Fountain of Tears" blends pop, avant-jazz, and folk for an somber yet fascinating ride.
Surely more of an acquired taste for some but a gem to others, the music of Thinking Plague and most certainly In This Life is without a doubt unique in every way. If you've yet to discover the music of this most original band, this Cuneiform reissue is as good a place as any to start.
Run Amok 03:11
Organism (Version II) 11:46
The Guardian 05:30
Fountain Of All Tears 07:39