One of the great things about the post-everything era, in which hyper-hyphenated, clash up genre bending is the norm, is that the concept of musical taboo is becoming increasingly passe. No longer do you have to be concerned that your particular pet genre doesn't sit at the cool table; these days, the jocks mingle with the math club.
Sitting at the head of the class is Diagonal, seven British prog zealots unashamed of their technical virtuosity and tendency toward musical extravagance. Without pretense or irony, Diagonal worships at the altar of everything that made prog great, managing to shrug off most of the bloat, and even imbue prog's trademark mechanical precision with a bit of anima.
"Semi Permeable Menbrain" opens the album with a swig of Bitches Brew,
filtered through the nouveau kraut rock of Stereolab, with a bit of
Slint-ish post rock angularism keeping things on edge. Their technical
prowess is undeniable, but equally impressive is their ability to weave
through the various touchstones of progressive and jazz rock without
settling into any groove for long enough to stagnate. Throughout the
scant five tracks on the album, psychedelic flourishes ("Deathwatch"),
post-rock tinged funk ("Cannon Misfire"), and somber piano
balladry ("Cloud of the Thunder Child") help add a twist to what could
otherwise be a set of sonic museum pieces.
Click here to stream the album in its entirety via Last.fm.
-- Nicholas L. Hall