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Beardfish: Sleeping In Traffic- Part One

This group initially seemed like another batch of prog neophytes bent on remaking a bygone era with none of the authenticity and little of the talent. How could one not be skeptical when, after all, there are approximately nine billion groups doing that exact thing at this very moment? But Beardfish offers a lot of its own ingredients to the stew. For one, for all the prog-isms, there's still plenty of unbridled rock 'n' roll rolling around in the grooves. "Sunrise" ends with some wailing that wouldn't be out of place on either a vintage Deep Purple or Uriah Heep album, and while bits such as "Afternoon Conversation" owe more than a little to vintage, theatrical King Crimson, "And Never Know" gets down to the business of, as they say, rockin' one's face off with originality and acumen. Naturally, Beardfish whips out the Epic (the 12-minute "Roulette," which arrives at the record's halfway point) and succeeds and even offers a bit of homage to Gentle Giant and Yes via "The Ungodly Slob." A pretty good showing from a band that's likely to supplant The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard in the latest wave of the progressive explosion. Nice work.


Track Listing
1. On The Verge Of Sanity...
2. Sunrise
3. Afternoon Conversation
4. And Never Know
5. Roulette
6. Dark Poet
7. Harmony
8. The Ungodly Slob
9. Year Of The Knife
10. Without You
11. Same Old Song

Added: May 31st 2007
Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin
Score:
Related Link: Beardfish Website
Hits: 4710
Language: english

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Beardfish: Sleeping In Traffic- Part One
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-31 00:59:51
My Score:

It starts with 45 seconds of accordion, then dives into a heavy, keyboard-driven wall of sound, that retreats into a simple but elegant acoustic guitar led vocal piece - and you're already thinking of half a dozen influences, all from the '70s.

But the most immediately obvious influence is Gentle Giant - with the vocal tones, the multi-part counterpoints, and even the inability to control pitch. The band's frontman has an expressive voice but in some sections his control falls shy of perfect - and that's important because most tracks on Sleeping In Traffic- Part One are very vocals-oriented. Listen to "Afternoon Conversation" and you'll hear Peter Hammill influences in the delivery, while "Dark Poet" - in contrast - is a Beatle-esque ballad sung over an electric piano.

Other early '70s cues are the guitar styling, the emphasis on Hammond, and particularly, the wonderful variety from section to section. Each track features imaginative songwriting with complex compositions that are well played, most come across as very tight, yet there are jam-oriented pieces as well. All-instrumental "Ungodly Slob" is a standout piece, with its funky bass loop, its African styled lead guitar riffs, its spacey synths and its many tempo and style changes. It's wonderful piece that shows a songwriting flair that ought to be exploited more.

Their third studio album - but their first on Inside Out Records - will find popularity among a broad spectrum of today's progressive music fanbase. Great music, wonderful variety, good songwriting, so-so vocals, and an all-round enjoyable listen.


Beardfish: Sleeping In Traffic- Part One
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-26 09:08:14
My Score:

Sweden's Beardfish make their debut on Inside Out with the first part of their Sleeping in Traffic piece. Firmly rooted in the aesthetic stylings of 70's prog, most notably Gentle Giant, Genesis, and Zappa, Beardfish's aim is certainly not to break any new ground, but rather to pen songs that carry a distinct retro prog rock sound to them -- and this disc is testimony to their success.

Starting with the beautiful accordion melody of "On the Verge of Sanity", the album moves into heavier (as in purer) prog rock domain, at once evoking the surprising turns of Gentle Giant's earlier work, particularly in the way the acoustic guitars are arranged. The song is blessed with big dynamic shifts, rocking hard thanks to the tight rhythm section; and then slowing down in order to create dense, instrumental passages. Rikard Sjoblorn is not merely responsible for the amazing vocals here -- he also plays guitars, accordion, percussion, and keyboards. The synth work on the album is uniformly gorgeous -- the blazing organ sound is reminiscent of Uriah Heep or even early Deep Purple, but the piece also stands out for its Zappa-esque craziness and the maniacal screaming at the finale.

More of the band's Zappa influence can be detected on the twelve-minute monster "Roulette", which starts out more in the vein of Supertramp's melodic signature and then transforms into Camel's smooth acoustic guitar arrangements. Having toured with Paatos before, the stark, brooding tone of their music is carried over and comes through during the middle section, which is ultimately darker than anything else on this album. Sjoblorn doubles his vocals here, creating a somewhat disturbed "internal dialogue" vibe, as his subconscious spews forth psychotic statements to contrast his regular, more heldback vocal style. This is also the most political song on the album, and would make for a good piece to introduce the current sound of Beardfish.

Slower songs also permeat the album: the Beatles-like piano ballad "Dark Poet" has a sublime vocal harmony while on the acoustic piece "Without You", a short but moving cut, the band opts for a more solemn statement. As for the instrumental aspect of the CD, the Floydian guitar work in the intro of "The Ungodly Slob" resolves with calculated fuzzed out sections and an addition of myriad instruments, including ethnic drumming. It would be interesting to hear more instrumental pieces on the following album, which is said to be in the works already. Also, if you enjoy jam-like sessions where the bands do not lose focus of context, then "And Never Know" is your song. It moves in a freestyle jam, highlighting monstrous rhythm instensity and ferocious guitar work not to mention funky bass throbs taking the lead at times.

This band has already two other albums under their belt, but due to lack of promotion, they went unheard even by most prog fans. Now that they're on Inside Out, hopefully their back catalog will receive some attention as well.

Beardfish: Sleeping In Traffic- Part One
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-12 06:51:08
My Score:

We've all heard the term "wearing influences on their sleeve" a million times when describing countless bands, especially prog rock bands. Now comes along the Swedish band Beardfish, whose third release Sleeping In Traffic-Part One, finds the band on Inside Out Music, and once again we can say "these guys wear their influences on their sleeve". Not necessarily a bad thing, at least not in this case. These guys certainly drank from the well that included Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, Supertramp, Camel, King Crimson, Hatfield & the North, etc., and you can hear it all here, and then some. For the most part, this is solid, 70's inspired prog rock with a modern touch, think Wobbler if they were a little more upbeat. Tunes like "Roulette", a 12 minute piece with emotional vocals and plenty of tasty analog sounding keys, the Gentle Giant-ish romp "Harmony" (great unison guitar/keyboard lines here), and the Yes-meets-Gentle Giant-meets-Gong zaniness of "The Ungodly Slob" being the album highlights. In fact, "Year of the Knife" does the counterpoint thing that Gentle Giant were so known for, and do it well, throwing plenty of complex guitar and keyboard lines at the listener that are surprisingly melodic and memorable. Mix in a couple of pastoral, folky pieces, and you have a very intriguing 70's styled prog album that will have you often saying "hey, that sounds like...", but ironically it doesn't take away from the enjoyment factor. Beardfish's "Sleeping in Traffic-Part One" won't win any originality awards, but considering how many of us crave those classic sounds, this one will be well received and well played while we wait for Part Two of the saga.

Nice job guys.



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