Christopher's press information calls this music "a vicious reconstruction of
pop/rock formulas using approaches found in the avant garde and often reviled
progressive rock and metal genres" ... and it refers to "Christopher's
unaffected 'au naturale' gender bending vocals"
Well - that description is far more
pretentious than the music it describes. Smoke And Origination
is in fact easy going and laid back, falling somewhere between the singer-songwriter,
power ballad, symphonic prog (small 'p'), and and prog-pop genres. It's very
well performed, the songwriting is solid, and the lyrics are far better than we're
used to in progressive rock. Think film score music with well-grounded vocals -
the overall feel is one of approachable and
sophisticated wide-ranging music that would play equally well in the background or
focused listening session.
Based outside Toronto, Canada, Christopher is a solo artist - apparently a
multi-instrumentalist. Although no instrumental sections stand out, the whole is
very much more than the sum of its parts - and it's the songwriting that will
keep you coming back to this one.
The multi-part "Spaghetti Terrorist" is a soft ten minute mini epic that
wanders through section after section, driven by a synth-pop beat and ethereal
ethno-influenced sounds. Listen for the sections with soft falsetto vocals sung
over electronica and sampled male choirs. Interesting. "Sharp Knives" is a bit
more approachable, led by soft, warm vocals and layered with rich female choirs
and an occasional cello that adds a wonderful, dark element - and ought to be
used more often. There are funky acoustic guitar, mid-ranged singing with
strained emotions, over (sampled) choirs. There are light metallic elements,
heavy spacey sounds, straightforward analog parts, and minimalist sounds. And
there are huge walls of sound - like those on "The Wraith's Progress".
Many progressive musicians have hard-luck stories - and then, you'll find a
few that just never seem to catch a break. Christopher won an audition to be the
vocalist of a startup Finnish metal band, but circumstances prevented him from being on the band's second CD. He recorded and
interpreted a Jimmy Page piece for a movie, but it was discarded - and is now
available as a free download. He recorded this CD, but it was destroyed in a
fire. So he completed its re-recording 6 months later, but the studio flooded!
Tough breaks, to be sure, but on a positive note his previous CD was licensed to
various indie flicks - and it's a fair guess that Smoke And Origination will meet
with similar success. It's a compelling listen, and reacts well to multiple
listens. It's time for Christopher's luck to take an upward turn.
Track ListingThe Summoning Vector
This Is Your Plague
Sunday Is Falling Apart
The Following Visual Was Staged
The Wraith's Progress