The Silence - Metaphysical Feedback - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Silence - Metaphysical Feedback

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2019-08-30
The Silence - Metaphysical Feedback
The Silence - Metaphysical Feedback

This is prog heaven from a band that rose from the ashes of Ghost!

And, quite frankly, this album manages to compress the greatness of those first five King Crimson records into a footprint of the band’s own design. And that’s a melodic reversal of the Big Bang Theory of prog rock.

First, the flashback: Well, thank you Drag City Records for releasing all those Ghost albums (with nice cover art) in the States. I mean, they are great records from that Japanese psych rock band. So, I applaud your valor, as it was a bit like trying to sell a veggie burger at a Midwest state fair, what with deep-fried Oreos and all of super rich fatty carnival barker stuff.

That said, Ghost (not be confused with the metal Scandinavian band) produced albums of folk-psych with a weird beauty. Hypnotic Underworld opens with the four-part title track that is a collage of cosmic acoustic wandering, not dissimilar from the first moments of King Crimson’s “Formentera Lady” (but stretched well past the twenty-minute mark!). Yeah, this is impressionistic stuff. And then “Hazy Paradise” is (almost) catchy folk-rock. Let’s just say the band was in love with the psych-prog music from about 1972—especially the German ethnic spacey stuff like Amon Duul or Agitation Free, which was long on melody, and even longer on cosmic textures.

Sad to say Ghost broke up, but from the ashes, rose The Silence, with guitarist/singer Masaki Batoh and drummer Futoshi Okano, adding new guys Taiga Yamazaki on bass, and (the brilliant!) Ryuichi Yoshida on sax and flute. This is, I believe, their fourth record.

Metaphysical Feedback certainly gives a glance to those Ghost albums, but it has a much sharper rock ‘n’ roll razor edge. Gone are the lengthy sound collages. It begins “Sarabande,” with flute, voice, piano, and guitar in a pastoral setting, not unlike great Italian bands with soft vocals like Le Orme. Notes hang heavy like those clocks in that Salvador Dali painting. But at the four-minute mark, the tune bursts into a big acid-drenched electric guitar solo that recalls the rocking wild beauty of (my beloved) Jade Warrior. For those who know, think about “Barazinbar.” The song then slows to its pastoral birth and fades into its quiet ending.

But “Freedom” is suddenly sax heavy with Ryuichi Yoshida’s deep riff that grinds with the same fiery passion as Ian McDonald and Mel Collins’ horn work in those early King Crimson records. And then (suddenly) a harmonica blows a tune that temps that sax to explode, which in turn, ushers in a brief very Fripp-like solo. Vocals sing over the din. And that sax howls as it crosses the finish line.

“Tautology” is again sax led, while a piano somehow dances in the distant moments of the tune. But drums enter and the sax, once again, dominates with an almost melodic maelstrom, while a feral guitar punctuates the sunset of the song. This sounds like the Crimson of the live Earthbound let loose with a crisp recording. This is tough jazz rock.

“Okoku” is flute and sax pulsed and pastoral. The tune almost touches jazz. Oh—and then there’s a heavily distorted guitar sound that’s worthy of Genesis’ Steve Hackett. And that flute continues to dance all over the place.

The same is true for “Yokushurui,” which is again quite pastoral until the guitar and flute quicken the pace, and once again, echo the great vibe of (my beloved) Jade Warrior, a band that fused jazz, rock, folk, and an Eastern vibe into rock music. And that flute continues to breathe life into this music.

The oddly titled “Lighting Struck Baby Born” is an all-out jazz blow, with drums, guitar, keyboards and more of that dancing flute.

The final two songs conjure more of King Crimson’s sax-heavy prog rock. “Surrealist Waltz” could (almost) be on the first side of Crimson’s Lizard. The same is true for “The Crystal World” and its flute and organ enhanced drama which (thankfully) gives space to yet another Fripp-like guitar yowl. This is slow-danced prog stuff that (slightly) recalls the grandeur of “Epitaph,” from that first Crimson Observation with its lyrics about “the walls on which the prophets wrote/Are cracking at the seams.” Yeah, this song sags with weary beauty.

Well, sure the ghost of Ghost haunts this album. But the psych sonic stuff is pretty much gone. But still, it’s a lovely and intense listen, with flute and sax galore. As said, this is prog lover’s heaven. Trust me, as a lover of all things 70’s prog, it just doesn’t get much better than this.

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