Esoteric Antenna 2014
Back to the future – not clear blue but energetically fascinating.
Given prog artists’ proclivity for cluttering their albums covers with bright imagery, this NY quartet’s self-titled debut immediately stands out from the crowd. But whatever serenity their artwork may imply, it’s broken once the soaring, majestic intro of opener “Empyrean” gives way to a motorik dance beat which introduces anxiety to the action. And the action is serious in such a heady mix inspired by FLOYD and HAWKS yet given an original quirk by the band’s masterminds, mullti-instrumentalist Richard Sontaag and singer Ian Fortnam who came up with a dystopian concept and tell the sci-fi story of The Great Harmodulator through both spoken word and songs.
In turns serious as in “The Minor Keys Of Anguished Weeping” with its celestial chords and organ solemnity, and jovial like on the spanking “Interstellar Genocide” or the rocking disco of “Spaceshifter”, the band have sonic bliss descend with Amanda Cross’ glacial voice to freeze into “Serena Serenarum” while “Glissandor” glides through one’s mind eye on an acoustic guitar lace – painfully exquisite. After this, the title of a pure progressive ballad “Aftershock Cacophony” could have sounded like a joke if it wasn’t wrapped in a wondrous gloom. Grand finale “Memoria Tenere” only pulls the blue curtains, embroidered with more references to the group’s forefathers, over what may not be a bright future for the humanity yet must become exactly that for SONTAAG.