No band other than a progressive-rock outfit would be so bold as to open its second CD with a song called "No Rest Part III." So, lo and behold, here we have Ultimate Backward, the sophomore release from the very proggy Gravity Tree. (Incidentally, the band included a song called "No Rest" on its debut, Life or Dessert?, but I can't find a trace of "No Rest Part II").
Anyway, this San Francisco-based duo — yes, a duo — cites influences as diverse as Genesis and Henry Kaiser, Franz Liszt and Joe Walsh, and Laurie Anderson and the Beatles. Throw in some Arena, Frank Zappa, King Crimson and post-Neal Morse Spock's Beard, and you're halfway there. This is dense, majestic stuff that often overpowers quiet vocals by multi-instrumentalists Linc and Alan Nu. Many of the songs feature one-word titles (odd for a prog band and a tactic more commonly used by contemporary rockers and emo-whiners). Yet the most modern song here is also the one with the longest title: Consider "Conversing With the Dead" Gravity Tree's foray into progressive punk — albeit with a retro, British new-wave vibe and an acoustic-guitar break. It's one of the coolest tracks on a record that also features studio versions of live Gravity Tree favorites, including "Can" (also known as "The Funk Tune"), "Go Away," "Motion Sickness" and the band's brief live intro piece "In."
Unfortunately, a quiet and inconsistent mix hinders the ability to fully enjoy Ultimate Backward. But if you're seeking modern, indie prog with traditional influences (and are tired of listening to — or even bored by — Glass Hammer), you might want to set your ears underneath Gravity Tree and wait for something special to fall.
1) No Rest Part III
3) Aim to Please
5) Conversing with the Dead
9) Go Away
10) Motion Sickness