Perfect Beings: Vier
Perfect Beings is a US progressive rock band that formed in Los Angeles back in 2012, and their latest release for InsideOut Music, titled Vier, is their third overall. Comprised of the trio of vocalist Ryan Hurtgen, guitarist/producer Johannes Luley, and keyboard player Jesse Nason, the band are also now augmented by acclaimed drummer Sean Reinert (AEon Spoke, Cynic, Death, Gordian Knot, Aghora.)
Vier contains just four lengthy tracks, and with each topping the sixteen minute mark, it essentially comes across as a double album with each song becoming a side long epic. Brass and woodwind instruments are sprinkled into the mix, adding a jazz element to some of the arrangements. The first thing you notice are the charming, quirky vocals of Hurtgen on the upbeat opener "Guedra", as his multi-tracked voice glides over a mix of ambient and prog styled keyboards, the lengthy number going through many twist & turns throughout its 18+ minute duration. Bombastic prog this is not, instead Perfect Beings go for a more sedate, jazzy form of art-rock that mixes in electronic & pop elements for a sophisticated and fun sound. Exquisite piano and orchestrations kick off "The Golden Arc", giving the arrangement an old school film score feel before some eventual lead guitar, heavier riffs, and synths come into play for a more traditional prog soundscape. Nason's stunning synth, organ, & piano textures are featured on "Vibrational", as well as soaring male & female vocals, some Steve Howe inspired guitar work from Luley, and impressive drum patterns courtesy of Reinert. On the near 19-minute closer "Anunnaki", Perfect Beings go for a full on Yes styled prog romp, Luley again channeling his inner Steve Howe with some tasty, lightning runs, plenty of nimble keyboard melodies from Nason, intricate rhythms, haunting vocals, and even some wonderful acoustic guitar layers.There are even some intriguing Asian styled musical passages that no doubt go along with the lyrical content, making for a nice combination.
Overall, Vier has plenty of charm and lots of good ideas. My one slight complaint is a lot of the album sounds kind of 'patched together', with superb sections that often times are in complete contrast to the passages that came before it. Would it have been a better idea to have all of these sections as separate songs? Not really sure, but in closing I think this is still a highly ambitious release that has a lot to offer.
1. Guedra 18:23
2. The Golden Arc 16:42
3. Vibrational 18:17
4. Anunnaki 18:42
Added: February 23rd 2018
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
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|Perfect Beings: Vier
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-02-23 23:12:56
Californian progressive rock band Perfect Beings formed a few years back and released their self-titled debut in 2014. I first became familiar with the band upon hearing their sophomore disc simply titled II, an excellent album to be sure. The band has since signed with Inside Out Music and have really upped their game with their recently released third album titled Vier.
With Vier I think the band has really upped the progressive factor as this music overflows with imagination and creative ingenuity while still retaining great melodies and ear catching sounds. The band even ventures into chamber prog at times, certainly extending their musical horizons as compared to their last effort. The inclusion of more brass and strings has been a huge plus and the music's complexity has certainly risen. The musicianship throughout the disc is stellar.
The album is divided into four parts with a total of eighteen tracks with many of them leading into one another creating a wonderful flow to the album. The disc begins with the excellent "A New Pyramid" featuring a short robotized acapella vocal reminding me of Haken. The crashing rhythms are tight with thick bass and wonderful sax. Dreamy keyboards swells and clean guitar with a great groove and complex drumming check all the progressive rock boxes. Trippy effects and stunning builds highlight the dramatic "The Blue Lake of Understanding" while "Patience" includes more pop elements with a Beatles vibe, especially in the vocals and psychedelic inflections in the guitar work. With "Enter the Center" a Floydy trippiness can be heard and the sax is a great choice. If you like brass instruments mixed with your prog you really need to give this album a listen.
The guitar work in the short "America" is another highlight, my only wish is that it was a little longer.
"The Persimmon Tree" is the album's longest track and is a moody eclectic affair with a great use of brass, strings and mellow keyboard sounds.
The album ends with lovely "Hissing the Wave of the Dragon" featuring a melodic koto intro followed by the gentle "Everything's Falling Apart" with its pretty acoustic guitar and synth solo. It's a mellow ending but I wouldn't change a thing.
Vier needs to be listened to in one sitting, front to back, as this album will require your full concentration to hear all the subtleties this music has to offer. The band have really got on the progressive train and where it stops nobody knows but I have sure been enjoying the ride. Vier will be high up on my 'best of' list come the end of the year. That, my friends, is a guarantee.
The players are:
Ryan Hurtgen (vocals, piano, Yamaha CP70, Rhodes suitcase 88, Ondes, Tibetan singing bowls, backing vocals)
Johannes Luley (brass arrangement, 1958 Gibson Les Paul Junior, 1964 Gibson ES-175, Godin A11 Glissentar, 1968 Fender Telecaster, 1979 Fender Stratocaster, 1979 Ibanez 2618 12-string electric, 1978 Ibanez CN 2502003 Gibson Les Paul, 2016 Claxton EM-C, 1978 Ibanez CN250, 2013 Fender Stratocaster ST68-TX, 2003 Fender Jazz Bass, synth, strings, piano on "A Compromise", church organ, backup vocals)
Jesse Nason (1974 Moog System 35, Oberheim OBxA, Oberheim DSX, Yamaha CS5, Mellotron, Moog Mother 32, RMI 368X Electra-Piano, Roland SH101, Wurlitzer 200A, Korg MS20, Yamaha U1 upright piano, Rhodes Suitcase 88, Hammond C3 with Leslie 122, Akai AX80, Arturia CS80V, Arturia MiniV and ModularV, Korg MicroKorg Vocoder, Casio MT-400V, Backing vocals)
Ben Levin (drums, percussion, bells, lalimba)
Fred Doumbe (bass on "Hissing the Wave of the Dragon")
Max Kaplan (tenor, soprano, alto and baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet)
Gina Luciani (flute, alto flute, bass flute)
Jay Mason (oboe)
Christian Hammer (Vienna Symphonic Library)
Dave Richards (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone)
Yanran He (erhu)
Yuki Yasuda (koto)
Amit Sharma (tabla)
Robin Hathaway (backup vocals)
Christina LaRocca (backup vocals)
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