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Pattern Seeking Animals: Prehensile Tales

The rather oddly (maybe clumsily) named Pattern Seeking Animals return with their second album in under a year, which, when you consider that this is a ‘side-project’ of two chaps (Ted Leonard and Dave Meros) whose day job is Spock’s Beard, is some going - the Beard themselves not having released anything new within that time. With P-S-Animals keyboard player John Boegehold also a long-term collaborator with Spock’s Beard, you do have to wonder where one line begins and the other ends, especially when you consider that this band’s drummer, Jimmy Keegan, had been a Bearder in one capacity or another for nearly ten years. None too surprisingly then, there are many similarities in the progressive leanings that both bands rely on, and yet on Prehensile Tales it would appear that these musicians are much less concerned about the prospect of leaning on their musical roots. Meros nodding unashamedly throughout towards the boom and roam of Chris Squire’s bass work in Yes while the introduction of violin here and there means a liberal sprinkling of Kansas can be heard, especially on “Here In My Autumn”.

That all said, if there’s one main flavour, maybe most expectedly, what with this album’s producer Rich Mouser also manning the controls for their recent recordings, it’s Spock’s Beard. That’s a circle I struggled to square with the Pattern Seeking Animals’ debut and, truth be told, it’s a stumbling block for me here too. You may consider that with the same man, Ted Leonard, being the vocal force in both, that the likeness is inevitable but he is also the long-time frontman in Enchant and the comparisons with his work in that band and this basically starts and stops at his name being in the credits. Don’t get me wrong, I like Spock’s Beard, but I hoped for something maybe a little more left field here.

That all put to the side, Prehensile Tales is still quite a progressive presence in its own right, the willingness of “Why Don’t We Run” to be catchy and engaging as it plays against its own Latin rhythms and spaghetti westernisms being quite spectacular. “Lifeboat” on the other hand moves into more epic territory, its seventeen minute-plus running time allowing a gamut of ideas to be explored. There’s drama a-plenty as brooding beats and bass lines lay the path, and much intrigue as layered vocals heighten the atmosphere, and yet at its core it remains a song based affair with subtle hooks and jumping on points. Technical this may be but stand offish it most certainly is not. “Soon But Not Today”, which is only five minutes shorter, heads further in the same direction, being almost playful as a Beatles-esque trumpet line catches the ear. Although the decidedly upbeat offering remains forceful while maintaining a seriousness that feels neither contrived or pompous.

I’ve enjoyed Prehensile Tales more than I anticipated and, for me, it’s a considerable uptick from this outfit’s first offering. That said, I still can’t quite shake off the feeling that I’d prefer this project to sound much less like the band that obviously spawned it.

Track Listing
1. Raining Hard in Heaven
2. Here in My Autumn
3. Elegant Vampires
4. Why Don't We Run?
5. Lifeboat
6. Soon But Not Today

Added: June 1st 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Pattern Seeking Animals online
Hits: 830
Language: english

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