All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

9

Thinking Plague: Hoping Against Hope

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Thinking Plague has been an enigmatic genre defying progressive rock ensemble for 35-years. They span the gamut of a simmering stew, consisting of art-rock, anti-pop, progressive rock, free jazz and segments when acting like doomsday soothsayers led by vocalist Elaine di Falco's whispery but at times, imposing musical presence. Mike Johnson is the primary composer, lyricist and longtime group leader, as the ensemble's Rock in Opposition persona is intact, tinted by its anarchistic viewpoints and methodologies.

There are numerous odd-metered cadences and lots of timber amid powerful and slamming motifs, tempered or intensified by reedman Mark Harris' free or chamber-based parts and solos. Johnson's compositions are often geometrically executed explorations, chock full of contrapuntal statements and dizzying treks into cataclysmic storylines and off-centered diversions. On "Thus We Have Made the World," the band enacts a King Crimson-like pace with unorthodox phrasings and avant-garde style subplots, coupled with soaring cadenzas and deep valleys. Here and throughout, the musicians' nonconforming modus operandi includes fairytale backdrops and futuristic stylizations led by di Falco's multipurposed vocalizations.

"The Great Leap Backwards" commences with dour progressions, subtle background effects and a host of abstracts paralleled by the vocalist's angelic choruses and Harris' weaving soprano sax lines, leading to crash and burn episodes. And "A Dirge for the Unwitting," is a cerebral electro-acoustic piece, constructed with linear unison passages, avant-chamber dialogues and a great deal of sound-sculpting activities. Indeed, the band surges forward with another mind-bending program that offers more than your typical prog rock fare, and that's where these folks excel on a recurring basis. Hence, the element of surprise generates a horde of intriguing variables.

Track Listing: The Echoes of Their Cries; Thus Have We Made the World; Commuting to Murder; Hoping Against Hope; The Great Leap Backwards; A Dirge for the Unwitting.

Personnel: Mike Johnson: guitar, samples, midi instruments; Mark Harris: soprano and alto saxophones, B-flat standard and bass clarinets, flute; Dave Willey: bass, drums (5), accordion (2, 6); Elaine di Falco: voice, accordion, piano; Robin Chestnut: drums, percussion; Bill Pohl: guitar. With -Adriana Teodoro-Dier: piano (2, 5, 6) and toy piano (2); Simon Steensland: bass (5); Mike Boyd: drums (2); Kathryn Cooper: oboe (4).

Title: Hoping Against Hope | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Ellipse CD/LP/Track Review
Ellipse
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 23, 2018
Read While We Still Have Bodies CD/LP/Track Review
While We Still Have Bodies
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Ghost Town Blues Band CD/LP/Track Review
Ghost Town Blues Band
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Toot Suite CD/LP/Track Review
Toot Suite
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Love + Time + Divination CD/LP/Track Review
Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read Gleb Kolyadin CD/LP/Track Review
Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "Imaga Mondo" CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Telepathy & Bop" CD/LP/Track Review Telepathy & Bop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "It's A Mystery" CD/LP/Track Review It's A Mystery
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Fly Or Die" CD/LP/Track Review Fly Or Die
by John Sharpe
Published: July 10, 2017
Read "Glass" CD/LP/Track Review Glass
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 10, 2018
Read "Open Book" CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2017