Alright then, boss. How are we going to go about this? Ooo! Ooo! I know! Let’s do it like they do on late-night TELEVISION!
Do you enjoy prog-rock but secretly wish it had the passion of garage music? Have you ever enjoyed listening to musicians playing irregular rhythmic patterns while NOT having to bring their hairstylist on tour, like Porcupine Tree most surely does? Have you ever considered “oh, this prog-rock / post-rock thing is fine, but I could do without the enchanted forest lyrics and goblin imagery”? Are you tired of all that played-out emotional blackmail found in popular modern music? Have you ever wanted to put post-rock, hard-rock, math-rock, meth-rock, prog-rock, and just a hint of jazz (rock) in a blender, just to see what happens? Does intellectually-demanding music give you a headache and make you wish for intense, innovative yet accessible riffs and melody lines? Do you think the word cinematic has been systematically abused to describe instrumental bands? Have you ever wanted those little ambience vignettes and interludes found in way too many records to be meaningful and not just filler? Have you ever gone “aaaahhhh” after finding a recurring music theme within an album? Do you ever get high and cry for no reason? Do you not hate all question reviews and think this is starting to sound like an ad?
I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to Spooky Action so far, but upon pressing play I find myself expectant like a teenager waiting for their favorite live act to come onstage, as the first bars of opener ‘Part IV’ weave a guitar pattern that builds the perfect tension for the whole band to come alive in one huge blast of badassery aimed to shock and awe. Never been much of a headbanger myself, but I do find myself performing some oral-air-sex-guitar… whatever that means, and thank God and Stephen Hawking no one’s watching as I indulge.
What is it that distinguishes this band? Is it muscle? Muscle they have. But there is much more to them. Musical chops? Check, but chops are a-dime-a-dozen in the Prog-Rock Family Tree Cult. No. There’s something else at play here. Maybe they’re just great wordless storytellers and a truly dynamic and cinematic (oh, curse!) band? There’s dynamics, the kind that makes passages naturally flow into each other, each burst of heaviness perfectly justified and never too long, which is fuck rare! Just when you are about to dial back down your volume knob, The Fierce and the Dead sweeten it for you with real brown sugar, and never that saccharine-pretty-chord bullshit.
As the title implies, Spooky Action is a record devoid of snoozers, but somehow it manages not to overwhelm the ears (or the stomach). If you are not the easiest crowd and have trouble digesting new ideas, I recommend you start nibbling on this album by listening to track 8 ‘And the Bandit’, where the guys let all their playfulness shine, with a main theme that will make you feel like a kid watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Amazing what sorts of feelings can be conveyed when you get rid of dumb-love lyrics. Succinct, this shiny album is only 40 minutes long, which I find is as long as any of us diagnosed with ADD will listen to just… oh, look, a butterfly!
So quit sexting and go download* this NOW.
Words: Air Nest Vera.
*DISCLAIMER: Buy it.