Sonus Umbra – Beyond The Panopticon
(S/R - 2016)
Prog Rockers who were formed in Mexico City with members from Chicago and Abu Dhabi while students that is like abstract, avant guard Jethro Tull meets Haze and Treebeard in a wild, bizarre kinda way.
A seven piece band who are made up of Roey Ben (Lead Vocals/Percussion), Tim McCaskey (Acoustic Guitar/Electric Guitar), Britanny Moffitt (Lead Vocals), Luis Nasser (Bass/Sound Effects/Percusssion), Rich Poston (Electric Guitar/Keyboards), Steve Royce (Flute/Keyboards) & Andy Tilletson (Drums/Acoustic Guitar).
Now if you are wondering, a 'Panopticon' is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century according to Wikipedia... Anyways, now that is out the way what's it all like? Well there is a lot going on at times and very complex to get your head around since there are various arrangements going on in each song which at times makes it hard to reflect and remember what what happening previously in the same number.
There are flowing moments of jazzy folk music that go from acoustic to electric in a split second and both male and female vocals at intervals too with 'All One Together Alone' being a perfect example with weaving guitar riffs around drums and bass mechanisms and more. Love the flute action in 'Blood And Diamonds' that drives beautifully with the dual vocals to be found here especially the soaring greatness Britanny to be found here, not to mention the sweet crystal clear piano playing that strangely works with the police sirens you hear in the background.
'Paramesia' is a flute spun jazzy piece that's well put together and pretty incredible that flows straight into the acoustic duet called 'Love Undone' via a rumbling spaceship link and here comes the flute again... cool as .. and a lovely bit violin too.. that moulds around the guitar-work rather sinisterish, whilst closer 'Channel Zero' is like a weird concoction of lyrics with a folky tribal feel with an ending like it's all been a dream.
An interesting album which you have to let yourself be absorbed in fully by it or you could easily miss something and make it hard to understand what is going on.
By Glenn Milligan