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Squonk Opera: You Are Here

Ever experience the eclectic and avant-garde sounds of Squonk Opera? Well if you haven't, it's about time you have. Starting out in 1992 much like many bands do, with only a hint of a direction and the world at their disposal, Squonk Opera have since released numerous albums and played to approximately 200,000 fans worldwide, in such countries as the United States, South Korea, Canada, Belgium, and The United Kingdom. Their music is hard to describe, as it includes elements of classical, jazz, progressive rock, pop, cabaret, avant-garde, and ambient, yet has a feel all its own. Led by Jackie Dempsey (piano, accordion, composer) and Steve O'Hearn (flute, trumpet, wind synth, sax), both of who formed the initial idea behind the band and have created the stage show, they are joined by Kevin Kornicki on drums and percussion, vocalist Christina Acosta, guitarist David Wallace, and bass player Nathan Wilson. The combination of acoustic and electric instruments give much of You Are Here a very organic feel, and it's hard not to be sucked into the breezy, jazzy sounds of a song like "All Eyes on You", complete with Christina's lovely vocals, the slippery, almost Jaco Pastorius sounding bass lines from Wilson, waves of accordion from Dempsey, and O'Hearn's wistful flute melodies. Equally jazzy is "Driving", again with Nathan Wilson's acrobatic bass licks leading the charge underneath some forceful sax and proggy keyboard melodies. The nimble yet understated drum work from Kevin Kornicki also needs to be mentioned, as he fills in many gaps on this release as if he was a lead player and not just someone holding down the groove.

There's an atmospheric, almost Celtic feel to the lush "Open Twinkle", thanks to some gentle acoustic guitar, flute, and ethereal vocals, and on the opposite end of the spectrum David Wallace gets to lay down some aggressive Steve Hackett inspired electric guitar tones on "White Noise", a real intriguing piece also featuring busy drum fills and intricate piano lines. For dramatic and expressive prog, look no further than "Home Movies", a tune with many peaks and valleys, again dripping with Wallace's searing electric guitar passages and Dempsey's rich piano, but also Acosta turns in an especially passionate vocal on this one as well.

If you close your eyes and listen to You Are Here, you can almost visualize what their live show must be like, given all the rich and adventurous sounds that this release contains. Looking at the photographs on the digipack and on the press release, Squonk Opera employ exotic sets, props, lights, slides, actors, and dancers, in addition to their six-piece musical line-up. The music here is theatrical at times, occasionally with a hint of bombast, but always classy and very intelligent & thought provoking. After a few listens you'll no doubt be wondering if they will be coming to your area so you too can experience what so many have witnessed and enjoyed over the years.

Track Listing
1) A Town Revealed
2) Red Stats
3) Little Flowers
4) Those Who Have Gone
5) All Eyes on You
6) Driving
7) Belly Full of Fire
8) Open Twinkle
9) Telecity
10) White Noise
11) Map of the Heart
12) Umbrella Dance
13) Home Movies
14) Urban Machine
15) Right Here

Added: January 25th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2029
Language: english

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