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Eyestrings: Consumption

If you bought Eyestrings' debut album Burdened Hands released last year, then you must have been as impressed as I was when you discovered its amazing artwork, booklet, lyrics, production - the whole package that is. I was personally astounded by their perfect presentation, considering they were just an independent band. Things aren't any different on their new release, Consumption, also released through their independent label Split Difference, with an equally haunting cover art done by main man Ryan Parmenter, excellent songwriting which is a bit darker and more developed, and remarkable musicianship.

With two former Discipline band members, Bob Young on drums and Matthew Kennedy on bass, Eyestrings seems like a more mature band with a great rhythmic anchor, soaring vocals that border on a melancholic delivery, and excellent lead guitar by Parmenter's longtime friend Alan Rutter, along with lots of piano, keyboard and percussion elements. Consumption is a darker, deeper and more realized album than its predecessor, punctuated by complex harmonies, incredible vocal lines that could only be rivaled by the likes of Spock's Beard and Porcupine Tree, and fluid guitar textures that range from nylon-string passages to cutting electric solos. Alan Rutter is surely an interesting guitar player. The way he wraps his guitar lines around subtle piano and bass tapestries evokes earlier day Echolyn to me, not necessarily musically, but stylistically he has a somewhat similar approach. He refuses to stay in the same chord longer than a few seconds, always experimenting and often diverting from the other instruments without losing his focus. Fans of Gentle Giant and Echolyn are sure going to enjoy his work on the lumbering piece "Valid for a Week", where he shifts between rhythmic and melodic interactions, playing both acoustic guitars through complex passages built by lucid analog synths and deeply growling bass patterns. Ryan Parmenter's vocals on this song are mournful yet at the same time remarkably passionate, as the rest of the song features excellent vocal melodies sung over sparse piano notes. The song concludes in an almost manic-filled restlessness where multi-tracked vocals move into a hauntingly dark passage filled with an undercurrent of jazz.

Matthew Kennedy is an exceptional bass player whose work with both Discipline and Matthew Parmenter (Ryan's uncle) lends him a lot of credibility. Since Matther Parmenter's Astray album, he has also been involving himself with darker musical textures, perfectly illustrated on the multi-passaged "Code of Tripe", which Kennedy co-wrote with Ryan Parmenter. This is quite possibly the gloomiest Eyestrings song to date, brimming with pretty instrumental breaks, dense Moog sounds, and textural guitar lines. The beautiful flow of the song is broken up by an ominous acoustic guitar and piano passage with a great tonal range. This interlude helps set the sombre mood the song is intended to possess and then abruptly breaks into a hypnotic guitar theme where Rutter's instrument wails madly inviting multiple layers of vocal harmonies, grey synth textures, and eerie cymbal work by Bob Young. Speaking of Young, this guy is truly one of the finest drummers in American prog rock nowadays. Not only does he play his instrument with plausible finesse, he also likes to enrich the songs with various African and other tribal percussion techniques. His amazing tabla and djembe work on "Slate Clean" really enhance the darkness of the piece, lending it an Indian rhythmic feel, with a full bass bottom.

On the instrumental "Groove Seven", we hear blaring organ leads, mood-intensive guitars which generate siren-like tensions, and funky bass rhythms that swiftly adapt to Ryan Parmenter's punctuated synth work. This is another song where the band display their subtle complexity merged into a jazzy context, utilising lots of percussion and drum beats. The last song, "Lifelines", is the album's undisputed epic, clocking in at 20 minutes and going through six movements all of which emphasize another brilliant aspect of Eyestrings. From the opening piano melody and cascading guitar phrases, and even Ryan's vocals, I am reminded of Spock's Beard's The Light period. Glistening cymbals and odd metered drum patterns underlie somewhat operatic vocals and huge Moog sounds. The transitions from one section to another are smooth thanks to the neat mix and production. The song's apex is "Traces" with a soaring guitar melody and excellent vocals that unfold effortlessly. Ryan Parmenter's deep voice which he sustains throughout adds to the atmosphere of the song. Consumption is mainly his creation, but at the same time this album wouldn't be as great as it is with different members or less artistic input by each and everyone of them. One of the finest discs of contemporary American prog rock.

Track Listing

  1. All Sales Final (2:02)
  2. Valid for a Week (11.48)
  3. Stagnant (4:54)
  4. Code of Tripe (12:04)
    i. Ground Zero
    ii. Feast
    iii. Omega Land
    iv. Fallout
  5. Slate Clean (7:17)
  6. Groove Seven (5:46)
  7. Lifelines (20:00)
    i. Tangles
    ii. Intervention
    iii. Puppet
    iv. Traces
    v. Cordpuller
    vi. Vox Populi

Added: November 5th 2005
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Eyestrings website
Hits: 4568
Language: english

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