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Speechless: Time Out Of Mind

A good review always has - at its heart - a one-sentence summary that enables the reader to understand the style of music under discussion - and the rest of the review embellishes that description.

Sorry, but with Time Out Of Mind, you won't get that pithy little summary. Can't be done. There's a bit of everything here, yet it doesn't slot into any pigeonhole, and it defies comparison with other artists.

Speechless is an Atlanta-based foursome that came together - partly - from the ashes of an occasional group that played Kansas cover tunes, called the Southern Wheatheads. But this record gives few hints of those origins - and Speechless now plays hard-edged progressive music with a bit of fusion influence, a bit of symphonic rock, a bit of Yes, a bit of Kansas, a bit of Dixie Dreggs, a bit of Return to Forever ... and a lot of heart, and no vocals. We once described it as "...a potpourri of rock, progressive music and fusion, and above all, each song gets into a head-nodding groove that drives it through its constant shifts and rich melodies". One band member said "Groove is what taps a toe, what bobs a head, and gets people listening. I call it Groove Oriented Instrumental Rock." Another band member said it was " soundtracks for short films yet to be made", and later, said it had "a jam band feel ... heavy rock, basically ... rock, metal, jazz, funk, reggae, pomp, world, avant and more."

Get the picture? This music is hard to describe.

The band comprises the standard rock band ensemble - keyboards, guitar, bass and drums - and the thing that stands out most about Speechless is that no single instrument stands out any more than the others. They share the limelight in equal measure in the compositions, in the mix, and in the band members' contribution to the songwriting. From the excellent opener "In The Clouds", to the deep groove of "Something Green", through the wailing guitar sections in "Stella", to the breath-catching melodicism and rich 'Tron-like choirs of "Spidercrawl", this record will catch you by the throat and for 50 minutes it won't let go until the somewhat abrupt ending of the 9-minute mini-epic "Vader's Boogie" drops you like a stone and leaves you panting for more. This music is alive and energetic, with few really quiet moments. It is impressive yet unpretentious, melodic yet complex, modern yet true to the '70s origins of prog.

The cover art was courtesy of Will "Inkenstein" Renfro, and it is as complex - yet cohesive - as the music it illustrates. In fact the band says Renfro has been officially dubbed their 'fifth member'. Production is solid and the mix yields crystal clear separation of each instrument, yet it avoids that in-your-face style that plagues so many modern prog acts. Click here to read our in-depth interview with Speechless, in which all four band members describe the making of Time Out Of Mind.

It's a fairly safe bet that almost every segment of the progressive music community will appreciate the tremendous musicianship, the refreshing upbeat tones and the wonderful grooves they'll find on Time Out Of Mind. It will have equal appeal to fans of metal, symphonic, fusion, and 3rd-wave prog. But beyond that - don't ask us to describe it. You'll just have to hear it yourself.

Track Listing:
1). In The Clouds
2). Spidercrawl
3). Stella
4). Thank You
5). The Big Majestic
6). Something Green
7). Spaghetti Junction
8). Hangover
9). Vader's Boogie

Added: February 20th 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's MySpace Site
Hits: 3721
Language: english

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Speechless: Time Out Of Mind
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-02-20 14:29:14
My Score:

Instrumental albums are always difficult to review, especially the good ones, as at the heart of a song without lyrics, the music needs to touch your soul and bring you back for repeated visits in absence of vocals. Not an easy task. Many instrumental outfits assualt the listener with mounds of chops and over-the-top arrangements, forgetting the one important element-melody. If the music isn't melodic, in most cases it won't be memorable, which goes back to my original point about vocal lines. People tend to remember songs with catchy hooks and memorable melody lines, and in most cases it is the vocals that are carrything the load. Well, in the case of instrumental music, whether it be prog, metal, jazz, or fusion, the individual musicians, working as a unit, need to replace those missing vocals with something that will bring the listener back time and time again. There have been many bands who successfully made this happen over the years-Return to Forever, Weather Report, Brand X, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Dixie Dregs, Planet X, just to name a few, have made their mark by creating memorable music that combined melody as well as chops.

Now we can add Speechless to that list of names. This four piece band from Georgia have crafted a highly listenable release here with Time Out of Mind, a CD featuring nine instrumental rock pieces that utilize elements of prog, jazz-fusion, and even a little metal thunder. While these guys obviously have the chops, and do drop in some inspiring solo moments, it's all about ensemble playing and creating moods and textures that stay in your brain for hours. From revved up tracks like "In the Clouds" to more atmospheric and textural pieces like "Stella" , there's something here for everyone. Hearing them combine 70's prog elements with modern metallic fusion on a song like "Thank You" is a real treat, and if you really want to hear them rock out and get "down and dirty", check out "Something Green", "Spaghetti Junction", and the near 9-minute "Vader's Boogie", each featuring plenty of complex time signatures, ripping guitar and keyboard work, yet also moments of tender restraint amidst the bombast.

Let's tip our hat to Paul Rusek (bass), Sean Tonar (guitar), Robbie Hamil (keyboards), and Derik Rinehart (drums), as these four have put together a very entertaining and memorable collections of songs here, none of which ever needed any vocals to get our attention. Well done guys!

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