NICK PROL AND THE PROLETARIANS
An Erstwisle Alphabestiary: Book One
(2020 - self release - USA)
This 2nd masterpiece by The Proletarians may start out like a Robert Fripp (Larks' Tongues In Aspic) guitar homage, but seconds later it is all enhanced and graced with the full skills of Nick Prol and his comrades. The debut by the band was stunning enough, and raked new ground for more unimagined growth, but this new album gives the listener more than a hand full of grand craziness in the allsorts/avant hodgepodge/glow worm exercises in quick changes, complex composition, yet always holding on to a dreamy melody that hooks you. The pop and punk element mixed with hyper downslope always headed to the big blue sky of this RIO, brings a smile far outside your mask each moment. You must dedicate yourself to sit and listen to the entire recording void a blink, or urge to go use the bathroom will cause you to miss something very important. Some songs only clock in around the minute and a half mark.
All that said, the music is not as simple as that. Nick has a broad taste in music and background. He is also one of most modest people I have ever met. Taking no written credits for the music on the CD or Bandcamp page, he seems to be someone who everyone loves to work with, and a person of overflowing creative juices. A fine visual artist as well as audio genius, fans can expect many more peculiar and perfectly crafted gems. To list all the styles and or bands one might hear influences from is a chore indeed. One fact is that the dozens of years and styles I hear with both releases, is that I love them dearly. The score balances gravity on both the time you are floating and almost firmly grounded. From track three ('Apropods') all the songs are alphabetized (this Book One has A-L, and Book Two will continue) and the notes inside the CD speak of each guest performing on which tune, so track "E" is track #7 'Emitones', for instance. The mainframe of the band are Nick Prol - vocals, lyrics, guitar/ Ben Spees - bass, synth, backing vocals (who also produces the album)/ and Connor Reilly - drums. The guest list includes Dave Newhouse - Horns/ Mohadev (from Stop Motion Orchestra, and who has a Cardiacs cover band) - stunt guitar/ Oliver Campbell - stunt bass, screams/ Jerry King - stunt trombone/ Jack Tickner - additional stunt guitar/ Kavus Torabi - narration/ Thymme Jones - narration/ and Bob Drake - narration.
If you love quick witted song structure, fleeting time signatures, changes akin to the speed and flash of a pinball machine, then this will attract you in grand fashion. With talents from such prominent bands in the invention world of music, and accolades from giants like Robert Wyatt, Tim Quy, and Mike Keneally, one has to expect a high in the sky recording, and no one will be let down. Nick Prol wrote all the music and lyrics except the band wrote their own bass and drum parts, and Ben Spees wrote a couple new sections of the music on 'Jelonomi' (Track 12 or 'J'). Let me leave you with how Nick describes the theme of this album and title. "Erstwisle... pronounced like "erstwhile" but with the word "isle" in there...Strange, dreamlike dimension, an isle situated smack dab in the middle of the vast "Headsea", an endless body of water filled with giant floating heads. This is our afterlife. It has finally been proven that THIS is where we go when we die, a lone island teeming with enigmatic plant life and creeping creatures. This album is your guide to said isle's flora and fauna. In YOUR world it's Part One of a fun and ambitious concept double album. In Erstwisle, it's the first of a pair of books penned by its foremost creature expert!"- Nick Prol. EXTREMELY HIGHLY (on a throne) RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 2 - 18 - 2021