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Crisis in Clay


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Audio CD, December 23, 1997
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 23, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: 1997
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Recommended Records
  • ASIN: B000008TTY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,181 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Comeuppance
2. Broadside Hits And Near Misses
3. The How-To's Of Self Taught
4. Bought The Farm
5. Simply Agree
6. Goliath In The Sights
7. December
8. Hunter-Gatherer
9. What Price Virtue?
10. Darkened Doors
11. The Encounter
12. The Willful Suspension Of Disbelief
13. Cirrus
14. Weaponry
15. Absolutely, Absolute
16. Ringing In The New Ear

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Review

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

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Speer on June 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of the most atonal and difficult-listening rock albums I've ever heard -- it's dizzying and totally fearless. Strangely, it's also incredibly gorgeous! Stockhausen meets Yes meets math rock. Their compositions sound as if they were the pinnacle of a long and widespread tradition, and it's sometimes difficult to keep in mind how unique their music actually is.
5uu's singer's vocal quality invites comparison to Jon Anderson of Yes, who themselves had a good helping of prog-rock in their repertoire once upon a time. It is brought to mind what might have happened if Yes had chosen a more uncompromisingly musical path after "Tales from Topographic Oceans."
Absolutely not for everyone, but for those of you who like this kind of thing, you will ADORE 5uu's and thank heaven you somehow managed to hear about them. You know who you are.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lord Chimp on March 15, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This album is a big challenge as it is relentlessly dense, complex, and pretty much entirely atonal (whereas _Hunger's Teeth_ had a tasty variety of tonalities). Take the opener, "Comeuppance", for example: the guitar riff is in 53/32 time, with the rhythm section integrating displaced triplets, a weird vocal melody, wacky out-of-sync keyboards, and an array of weird percussion instruments (mousetraps and bicycle bells, for instance). And the ending is downright headbangable. "Comeuppance" is pretty much indicative of what the rest of the album is like -- you don't get a break from Dave Kerman's opaque, fastidious rock songs. The production is ingenious, as the album with recorded at Chris Cutler's farm in France with very limited equipment.
With 15 such tracks, the album is very hard to digest (track 16, "Ringing in the New Ear", is just a minute or so of nothing, really). It doesn't matter that most of the songs are in the two-to-four minute range. This is a tough album. The Art Bears influence is pretty distant at this point, and the 5uu's are now a loud, tenacious band with factory-like precision. Oh, and if you've heard that Bob Drake sounds like Jon Anderson, it should be noted that Jon Anderson has never sang with such hyperactive, nasty energy. And even when some of the synth tones approach cheesy levels, the dissonant chord progressions keep the sound delicious.
But damn it, this album is lots of fun. There're even a few parts in 4/4. "Goliath in the Sights" is a heavy rock song, "Absolutely, Absolute" is a mutant, rhythmically irregular pop song, and some really unusual atmospheres created through sonic ingenuity on songs like "Cirrus" and "December".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Temple on February 25, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Review #1, for people familiar with the RIO ("Rock in Opposition") genre: This is probably the second-best RIO album I've heard, after Thinking Plague's "In This Life." Stylistically, it's rather similar to TP's "In Extremis", but pretty much every song here has the focus, catchiness and creativity of the first two or three tracks on that album, making this one by far the better release. I also like this better than the 5uu's previous album, "Hunger's Teeth", because it's further from their prog roots. (If you like 70s prog, feel free to ignore this statement.)
Review #2, for people who are just looking for something different: Imagine the lead singer of Yes singing for a band consisting of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Bartok on heavy electric guitars and drums. Dense, often atonal, quite noisy. Heavily structured, no song going over 5 minutes. Several thematic cross-references and self-quotations. Standard rock band instrumentation plus occasional violin, vibes, lots of electronics, and what sounds like an accordion on "Bought the Farm" (one of my favorite tracks). Probably more sheer energy than I've ever heard anywhere else (try "Weaponry", for example). My only criticism is that the texture throughout is very thick, and could use a little more variety.
Review #3, for people who are afraid of dissonance or irregular meter: Go away. We don't like you.
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