Nick Beggs, session musician extraordinaire and currently bassist for Steven Wilson’s band on tour right now coming to Toronto to play Massey Hall (amazing venue to see shows at btw) on the 1st of March (can’t wait!) has the new release with his put together band of other amazing musicians to form, “The Mute Gods“.
Newly released this album has the recipe down, packed in and shipped out through your speakers to blow your mind again in the world of Prog. Voted No.1 Bassist in Prog magazine’s Reader’s Poll for 2015 this will be the third year in a row for Beggs who jokingly said he’ll get his lawyer to administer a restraining order on this as stated in Prog magazine issue 63. Well he definitely deserves it and wears the Badge of Honour well and confirming that last year when I saw him play with Steven Wilson at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. Sprawling his talents all over the Prog map of bands from; Steve Hackett, Lonely Robot, Fish on Friday and Kim Wilde, Nick has managed to get in some studio and writing time to form this little project of Proggness to offer up to the table and it definitely fills the plate. With a little bit of everything in several facets of the genre to suffice most every palette it completes the progression of incorporating both the light and darker fares of Prog. Lyrical topics ranging from the religious to the political and to personal angles making it a very well rounded record to listen to. Nick Beggs described the album as “a rather disgruntled rant at the dystopia we’ve created for ourselves and our children”, very interesting take on the state of the world’s address there!
With following band mates; Roger King, Marco Minnemann, Adam Holzman, Nick D’Virgilio, Gary O’Toole and Rob Reed this band spells awesomeness all over and they utilize every scrap of sound wasting nothing here to make an album that will in time attain even higher levels and should definitely be in your Prog collective of albums as the newest addition to the Neo-Prog sound. So without wasting anymore words of from my finger tipped mouth let’s check out The Mute Gods debut record, “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me”
Keeping with the Prog tradition they slammed us with the title track right off the bat, brilliant move and it gets the curiosity dead cat out of the way. It opens up with a fading in discordant fuzz of an old television set followed by the twirling notes of synths speaking to us through the haze of electric wires. The song gradually builds up to a drum roll in to the full blown sound of the band taking full command of the reigns and permeating the air of your room with glistening sounds of a complete band allowing you to hear every instrument as clear as a spring day. Not overbearingly heavy in a metal sense but certainly heavy in the amount of musicianship being poured in to this first song. Reminiscent of the late seventies and the mid nineties Rush songs combined together to make a love child of implied driving forces of all four elements in earth. The tempo remains consistent but it travels upwards and onward as it takes you to the stratosphere and lets you fly through the edge of the planet till it let’s you down in a spiral of free fall as the wind splits your eyes wide open and you sail back to ground zero to a classic song fade out. Outstanding opener that paves the way and sets the precedent for the rest of the album to come. “Praying to a Mute God” comes in next presenting a new approach to the religious question and spares no expense getting started with another driving intro that falls right in to the lap of reminiscent Alan Parson Project’s 80’s era with a great guitar riff that accompanies an equally commanding vocal track that harmonizes in all the right spots adding flavour with kick to the music that is already packing in a punch. Musically it changes the tempo/timbre a few times creating a concoction of varying sounds that stab the very air it smashes in to allowing us to watch the sounds as they appear. The drumming is quite powerful on this track when one wouldn’t have expected it which was a pleasant surprise giving the song another Prog twist.
“Nightschool for Idiots” is the ballad swing that follows up after to calm the pace down a bit and it keeps with the Prog recipe perfectly with a shuffle beat that segues your mind to neutral for a few minutes as the band takes you on a Sunday drive around their music. Like I have mentioned in the past I don’t delve deep in to the lyrics of a band’s music because I feel that it would draw away your interpretation of what is being said by my opinions and also it takes away from the band I feel because they wrote it, not me! The clinical and sterile introduction feel to the next song,”Feed the Troll” walks in with a sultry awakening as the band stomps through this one with a divergency to shake you up. The guitar solo albeit short strains and pulls the notes right off the fretboard to leave you with a dry mouth wanting more as the juices flow from this song’s swagger. One thing I love about this record among many things is the vocals, they are almost a tone for tone reminder of one Steve Jolliffe who sang with the UK band, “Steamhammer” and more notably for my purposes the vocalist on Tangerine Dream’s 1978 masterpiece, “Cyclone“, one of the very few TD albums to have vocals on it to which my copy is now on its fifth installment as I attempt to not have it warp on me! “Your Dark Ideas” is just that, very dark and full of Neo-Gothic static with its twangy guitar intro to the snapping drums and double tracked vocals. It takes you back to the late seventies New York CBGB’s days and other NY clubs where the anti-pop sounds emanated from the smoky underground staircases and behind the doors another world of late night crawlers who staggered home at 4a.m. to go to work for 6a.m. and manage to survive just from the vibrations that the music left them in. This song does that for you, try it at 3a.m. and then go for a walk around your block if it’s safe to do so, you’ll see what I mean.
The “Last Man on Earth” has a very “David Bowie“/”Steven Wilson” feel to it where inspiration is drawn from these two as opposed to imitating them which it creates a uniqueness all on its own. It comes back to the more mellow aspirations of soothing your nerves and bringing you back down to a safer state of consciousness after emerging from that dark basement where you had your first drink, first smoke and first or fiftieth whatever. The gentle timbre has an ebb and flow of placid memories and yet the band keeps with the Prog recipe by leaving no note unturned here, it has a heartbeat that reaches out where there is no hands to grasp on to it as does with the Prog soulful songs that stretch on for miles and miles waiting for something to come along and let it stop. Back in the saddle of duty to the elemental Prog machine we dive in to, “In the Crosshairs” with a trounce of sound that has that “Welcome to the Machine” and “We Have Assumed Control” emotional feel to it. Here the band gets to stretch their musicality without words and call upon the fingers of their hands to speak for them with a short three minute exercise in instrumental discipline. “Strange Relationship” has the sustain of not quite a ballad but a song for all as it strolls through its motions of emotions as it builds up a surrounding of confidence to the listener that they have brought forth their studio expertise here creating a track of conscience personality to it. The synth swirls in this track are pulled from the band’s heroes from decades passed where album covers were full of colour and magical realms beyond our imaginative little minds. The harmonies here are subtle and well balanced to the music is sings over top of and apply a choral application of having that ever so slightly split second trail behind one of the vocal tracks to give it a very live feel to it which was indeed an appreciative gesture on their part.
We segue in to “Swimming Horses” where snippets of what sounds like chords from Black Sabbath’s “Junior’s Eyes” came out to me in the beginning for some reason, perhaps similar chords but nonetheless it was striking to hear something else in a song that I have never heard before, love that feeling as the song has no other section like it and the title stands out as a true use of Prog words. The song contains the tempo/timbre start/stop changes in it blending the Prog ingredients to a fine mix of smooth as glass icing to a very cathedral style track when played at max volume. The song jumps in to an upbeat about three quarters the way through then pulls it back to the choral vocalizations then snaps back to the main tempo of the track’s body, added spice to it and throwing you off when you least expected it. “Mavro Capelo” presents us with more beautifully sung harmonies and then we nosedive in to a dirty combination of dark synths and guitar strains as it tells a musical tale of perverse instrumentation only to stop dead in its tracks to a whirling circus wheel sound that makes you stop and think, “What about the benefit of Mr. Kite now?” as the song cracks back in to the perversity of the music before you can even breathe another breath on that question. The double bass pounds your chest as the guitar rips your innards from stem to stern and the bass repeatedly kicks you in the teeth then walks away ending the song with a punch that has you dazed and practically unconscious. Finally, the last song, “Father Daughter” completes the album with what comes across as a remorseful appeasement to your ears to finish your journey here and go back to your life as you know it because this album took you places in your past, looked at your present and presence and questioned your future. The duet with his daughter on this song is sublime as Nick has come full circle as has the other band members knowing that they have completed a record that clearly stands out and they have accomplished what they set out to do, a Prog record of damn good music. With that said here’s to hoping that they have more left in their pockets to pull out for more albums in the future as they surely have done so well with this record that has graced my ears quite a few times since its release. Enjoy and play loud, repeat.