Discipline: Unfolded Like Staircase (CD, 64:53); independent release, 1997 Strung Out Records P.O. Box 1587 Royal Oak, MI. 48068-1587 Email:email@example.com This is one of those types of releases that either curses or blesses. My meaning? The curse: this will be one tough act for Discipline to follow. In giving such of their all, their best, what can they pull off next without the "Well this one doesn't compare with Unfolded . . ." and the like? The blessing: this is tour de force progressive, intelligent, thought-provoking rock. This will be one of those benchmark, reference point items for a long time. Matthew Parmenter writes all the songs, sings, does keys, violin, sax, and orchestra chimes. Jon Preston Bouda is electric and acoustic guitars. Mathew Kennedy is bass and Paul Dzendzel is drums and percussion. What we have is four long pieces or musical acts each being divided into movements or scenes. We open with "Canto IV" superbly, forcefully launched with a determined, I've-got- something-to-say-angst attitude. It stomps over you with that Led Zep "Kashmir" progression. At times I heard Traffic when Parmenter's sax slipped in. Much Kansas washed over me. Parmenter's vocals are compelling, strong, and you are gripped quickly. He even uses a modified howling late in the CD calling to mind Warren Zevon's "Werewolves Of London". It is not overdone in the slightest. Guitars are on the precision level of Crack The Sky and Wishbone Ash but expressive in the vein of Townsend or Brian May. A wide variety of technique is deftly employed at all times. Parmenter's vocal dramatics and dynamics approach Freddie "Flash" Mercury yet hover around that Alan Parsons Project, Tales Of Mystery And Imagination macabre tone. You can hear that Echolyn well-wound, watch timing and crispness coming through. When the mellotrons go awailing you are instantly transported into vintage Crimson-space revelry. The lyrics are a disturbing, dark descent into some poor soul's miasma of confused regrets. Parmenter is a 20th century Dante. Angst, introspection, and fever-dreamed psycho-babble relentlessly pummels your brain into ashes and bones. This is troubling stuff should one bother to listen to the words. I quote, from "IntoThe Dream", scene 4, "How does it feel to hate what you are or love what you should hate? This is your fate". This is the ultimate in the tortured artist rantings and ravings. Bass, drums, guitar, keys, and words are the wind, the flood, the firestorm that push the listener along. Parmenter has peered into the Cosmic Egg's Crack. What he relates is far from pleasant. Herein resides epic prog rock, full of passion and pain. Unfolded Like Staircase is a dark monolith casting a very long, imposing shadow across the barren wastes of this thing we call reality. Somberly recommended. -- John W. Patterson
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"Canto IV (Limbo)" excerpt
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