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Hamster Theater: The Public Execution of Mister Personality/Quasi Day Room

Talk about a unique listening experience! Taking parts of RIO, European folk, circus themes, Frank Zappa, big band jazz, classical, avant-garde, and even cartoon jingles, Colorado's Hamster Theater have managed to load up two CD's worth of adventurous progressive music on their latest release on Cuneiform Records. Disc 1 contains their brand new studio album The Public Execution of Mister Personality, a quirky and complex ride through various moods, tempos, off-kilter rhythms, and intricate melodies. Led by multi-instrumentalist Dave Willey (accordion/keyboards/bass/drums/guitar) and Jon Stubbs (trombone/bass/keyboards), the band also features from Thinking Plague both Mark Harris (sax/clarinets/flutes, percussion), and Mike Johnson (guitars/mandolin/banjo/percussion), Raoul Rossiter (drums/percussion/marimba), Brian McDougall (bass CD 2), Matt Spencer (bass CD1) and Emily Bowman (viola CD1). As you can see, not your normal rock ensemble by any means.

The studio album is a wild ride through many styles, owing much to prog-rock with its constantly changing time signatures and complex interplay, but something about the sound of the accordion mingling with the various horns and reeds tempers the chaos just a bit, giving the album a much warmer sound than most RIO music. If you close your eyes and let the music take you away, the 13 tracks on this CD all come across as one long suite of music, seamlessly moving from one movement to another at a frantic yet engaging pace. Quasi Day Room-Live at the Moore Theater makes up CD2 on this set. Recorded in 2002 at the Moore Theater in Seattle, Washington, Hamster Theater really rip it up here, eschewing the deft touches of the studio work for more aggressive sounds that one normally expects from the louder RIO bands like Henry Cow or Thinking Plague, with a healthy dose of jazz fusion, Frank Zappa, and King Crimson. Listen to the manic yet intricate guitar and horn workouts on "Bean Dance", or the wild chaos that ensues on "The Cat Song", complete with violent accordion and screaming sax. The ominous sounds of "Bug 2: The History of the United States of America" recalls Univers Zero, Present, and even a little Gryphon, and if you didn't know better you would swear this band was from some remote East European country, let alone Colorado. Even "Vermillion He Over Lake Lausanne" has that feel, even though on the outside the piece is loud, abrasive, and urgent, there is still an underlying ethic feel that is hard to ignore.

It's going to take a few listens, but this latest from Hamster Theater will certainly win over fans of the avant-garde and those who like their prog a little left of the mainstream. Give it a try, and hear Mr. Personality get what's coming to him firsthand.

Track Listing
1 Race Against Time 2:10
2 "162" 4:23
3 We Unearth the Lost Book of Mister Personality, And It's Consequences 2:36
4 Reddy 4 Luv 3:47
5 The Quasi Day Room Ceremonial Quadrille 2:55
6 Love Theme from "All Clytemnestra on the Western Front" 1:56
7 Comatose, Oye 7:04
8 Litost 4:31
9 La Sacre d'Merde 3:01
10 The Quasi Day Room Ceremonial Tango 1:31
11 The Fairytale, In Reverse y 4:34
12 Phoenix 4:31
13 It Was Only a Dream 2:52
14 Bean Dance [live] 4:46
15 the Cat Song 3:04
16 Bur di Lie Town So [live] 6:26
17 Jeanne-Marie [live] 3:35
18 Bug 2: The History of the United States [live] 4:11
19 Vermilion Hue Over Lake Lausanne [live] 6:16
20 Tick Fever [live] 2:41
21 Vang Vang [live] 5:04
22 Home [live] 3:55
23 The 5 [live] 2:49
24 Hamster Dance [live] 4:23
25 The Bug Show [live] 4:29
26 Cat 2: Siege on Hamburger City [live] 4:41

Added: July 4th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Hamster Theater Website
Hits: 3403
Language: english

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