Drummer and self-declared Storyteller Sean Noonan's body of work draws from a variety of different music and poetry of past and present. Having explored various musical cultures in the past, Noonan feels as much as home with cutting edge distorted punk riffs as he does with mellow Jazz Fusion or even chamber music. On his most recent outing Man No Longer Me he combines his entire catalogue of approaches and fuses it to a homogenous whole. Spoken word arrangements meet complicated drum patterns, interrupted by distorted guitar lines and calling and responding brass sections -shaping a record very much in the realm of the avant-garde. Ironic and satirical notions are omnipresent and, in combination with the seemingly arbitrarily placed rhythmical complexities, reminiscent of endeavors made by progressive pioneers of the 60s and 70s, such as Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart.
'Man vs. Machine' opens this journey of ironic storytelling, laying all the cards on the table straight from the start. High treble bass lines and electric piano lay down the rhythmical foundation while Noonan's drums constantly search for loopholes to fill. The entire rhythm section gets space to solo halfway through and does so in a frantic way.
The constant brass breaks alternating with continuously changing measures and rhythms make for haltingly open song structures, which could be tiring if it weren't for the introduction of elegantly arranged string sections and timely retreats to pop choruses'He Skarbnik He' being a fine example of the former and 'Not I' of the latter.
'Pussy Cat's Gone Wild' displays Noonan's love for Frank Zappa to the fullest. Meowing cat cries answered by strained groans constantly accompany a jam of brass, strings, choir and crazy distorted guitar effects. ..'.So my girlfriends pussy cat, last night, last night got so wild....' Hello Frank, nice of you to drop by!
The Second half of the Disc sees the string section taking up a bigger role, leading to more elaborate arrangements and a wider sound spectrum in general. The Longer pieces take on a more conceptual structure and afore introduced harmonic progressions serve as thematic material which consecutively experiences further development. 'Cupid's Packing Heat,' 'I am Your Pineapple' or 'Eat My Makeup' are among the above-mentioned compositions and, if not for the one or the other humorous lyrical throw-in, would find their rightful place on more eclectic progressive rock records of the 70s. The arrangement for the string section on 'Cupid's Packing Heat' is of more cinematic nature while the choir and closing sax-solo wouldn't seem too misplaced on Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of The Moon.
While the collaboration of string section, brass and band is often employed in contradicting manner the compositions remain coherent all the same. The, at times, dissonant strings score completes the highly energetic and exciting arrangements and compositions, giving the entire record a spice it would otherwise be missing.
Sean Noonan has created an ambitious modern record, while simultaneously never neglecting the influences from the past, but rather embracing and framing them with his own personal musical voice.
Track Listing: Man vs. Machine; Not I; Pussy Cat’s Gone Wild; Man No Longer Me; He Skarbnik He; Cupid’s Packing Heat; I Am Your Pineapple; Eat My Makeup; Queen of Kings; Lost in Guenter’s Wald; Bia.
Personnel: Sean Noonan producer, drummer, composer, vocals; Johnny Richards keyboards; Michael Bardon bass; Norbert Buerger guitar; Mandhira De Saram violin (track 3,6,7,8); Patrick Dawkins violin (track 3,6,7,8); Richard Jones viola (track 3,6,7,8); Valerie Welbanks cello (track 3,6,7,8); Manuel Cossu baritone (track 3,6,7,8); Matteo Siddi tenor (track 3,6,7,8).
Marta Melis alto (track 3,6,7,8)
Alice Madeddu soprano (track 3,6,7,8)
Adam Roszkowski violin (track 4,5,9)
Jan Roszkowski cello (track 4,5,9)
Maciej Afanasjew violin (track 4,5,9)
Adam Debski viola (track 4,5,9)
Harry Saltzman sax
Robert Alonso trumpet
Roman Sladek trombone
Sean Hargreaves co-producer
Samuele Dessi vocal tracking
Rikky Damian string tracking
Michal Kupicz mixing
Graemme Brown mastering
Dirk Eusterbrock photography
April Townes special effects makeup
Title: Man No Longer Me
| Year Released: 2017
| Record Label: Haldern Pop Recordings