Second installment from monster band 5UU's, featuring rock complexity, extraordinary production (by bassist, singer Bob Drake) and high energy precision mixed with eccentric songwriting. People that work this hard are becoming an endangered species. Extraordinary.
When people talk about neo-prog, they're almost certainly not talking about bands like 5uu's. I don't know why. It seems to me that the so-called neo-prog bands are closer to advanced karoake: I mean, wouldn't it be cool if you could have all the drama and escapism of a Yes show, or one of those great old Genesis album suites, and not have to feel guilty that you're just living in the past? Yeah! And guess what, there's about a thousand bands out there who share your need for freshly rehashed flower power. Unfortunately, 5uu's are not one of them, and it's a shame, because it's obvious that they learned a thing or too from the old masters. I don't mean to waste so much time belittling neo-prog, but it just seems a giant misfortune that albums like Crisis in Clay, while admired by some adventurous listeners, are dismissed by the old school crew as 'weird' or 'experimental'. It seems to me that these are qualities 5uu's share with the original proggers, rather than what makes them different. As it is, this is an underexposed prog gem. To anyone familiar with the principals, namely Dave Kerman and Bob Drake, this should come as no surprise. Kerman actually started this band in the mid-80s, and made a slight splash in the mid 90s with Hunger's Teeth. This CD continued where that left off, with very progressive updates on the Yes/Gentle Giant school of prog. 5uu's distances itself from these bands in its embrace of electric noise and digital sound design, but shares with them a love of counterpoint, expert rhythm textures, and a flair for melody that often goes completely ignored by mainstream prog press. Oh, and did I mention that Bob Drake sounds almost exactly like Jon Anderson? The songs themselves are quite short (most in the 2-4 minute range), which I figured would make them slightly more approachable, but maybe not. Kerman's lyrics are stubbornly difficult to decipher. His music is no less complex, but don't proggers have a pretty strong background in tricky tim --Dom, Ground and Sky