Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ideamen - May You Live In Interesting Times

My first reaction was shock.  This quickly turned into rash anger.  How could this be?  Who would be so bold as to use my name on a music blog outside of the Ripple Effect to review music?  This is outrageous!  This is blasphemous!  I can’t let my sterling reputation be sullied by some callous individual whose only motivation is piggybacking on my online celebrity to garner more hits on his site!  Nay, this gross offense will not stand.  Thank goodness a friend of mine spotted this travesty while surfing the net and let me know about it post haste.  I need some ammunition for taking this joker down, so I think it’s time to visit his site.

Okay, the site has loaded.  What’s this?  The egomaniac put my…his…our name right at the top of the page in bold lettering.  Doesn’t that just figure?  It reads “Penfolde’s Musings”.  Ok wait…hold on a second.  That isn't how I spell my name.  It appears my friend made an error (easy to make really), and I’m beginning to feel pretty foolish right about now.  Hmmm…the graphic at the top of the page is actually pretty cool.  Nice typeface, slick layout, and good use of non-clashing colors.  Anyways, moving on, let’s see what music he is reviewing.  Oh…I see.  It turns out that he reviews audio books.  Uh, huh…I’m feeling increasingly stupid and juvenile with every passing moment.  My friend is definitely going to receive a strong rebuke over this little mishap.  Hey, I love that book too!  It’s good to know that they brought in a quality voice actor to do the story justice.

People often say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  I was hoping dear waveriders to be able to illustrate this point by showing you someone else reviewing music under my name, but alas, it has become apparent that is not to be the case.  Instead let me relate to you all a tale of one of my recent listening experiences.  Why is this tale a proper substitute?  It’s because perceived imitation played a significant role at the beginning of my listening relationship with a band.  That band’s name is Ideamen.

 Before I unwittingly stumbled upon Ideamen I had been sampling many different black and death metal acts.  This sampling was not done purposefully, but it seemed that every band that I investigated fell into one of those two categories.  The sheer weight of those musical genres was wearing me down, numbing my sensibilities, and I was becoming desperate to discover something that broke the mold.  As if on cue, from out of the crowd emerged Ideamen with their album May You Live in Interesting Times.  Not only did the album art stand out with a depiction of what appears to be an adult robot-like being and its child standing in an enclosure with a world map for a floor and a projection of the sky for a ceiling, but the album title seemed to be answering an unvoiced question in my mind.  Yes, I do want to live in interesting times!  With my curiosity piqued, I crossed my fingers and hit play.

Here fellow waveriders is where the story gets tricky.  The music that unfolded quickly put me in a state of rapture -- absolute joy -- but I was unsure how to approach it critically.  Allow me to elaborate.  People might remember that my first Ripple Effect write up was for Mr. Bungle’s California album.  That particular album is on my desert island essentials list.  I simply adore it and the band that created that music.  On the other hand, something that has yet to come up on the Ripple is my fandom regarding System of a Down.  While they were around, I was heavily into their music.  What do these bands have in common, and why am I mentioning them in this write up?  Simple. 

If you mix three quarters of California-era Mr. Bungle and one quarter late period SOAD, you come up with a good approximation of what Ideamen sounds like musically.  The resemblance is further cemented by the vocals.  There are two main vocalists in Ideamen.  The one most often at the forefront could easily be mistaken for Mike Patton, while the other very often sounds exactly like Daron Malakian.  My very first impression concerning both the music and the vocals was that while I really liked what I heard, there might be too much imitation occurring for me to be completely comfortable.  Thankfully this impression proved to be extremely shortsighted.  Multiple listens down the road have proven that Ideamen have a sound all their own, and I find it to be absolutely invigorating.  In fact my estimation of the band grows each and every time I listen to their music, and that is no small feat.

May You Live in Interesting Times is made up of twelve strong tracks, none of which fall into the category of filler material.  Each song contributes to the overall flow and feel of the album.  While the song structures are varied to say the least, there are a few common threads woven throughout.  First of all, with few exceptions, the keyboard acts as the scene setter and melody maker.  I think of it as the finesse portion of the group.  The guitar on the other hand operates as the group’s clenched fist.  When it barrels into a song to take center stage, you had better have prepared the muscles in your neck for some exercise because a workout is forthcoming.  Not mentioning both the bass and drum work would be a grievous offense.   These two crucial elements combine seamlessly to form the backbone and heartbeat of the band, providing the perfect springboard for the madcap adventures of the keyboard, guitar, and vocals.  Putting all the pieces together creates stunning music.  Stunning!

To wrap these proceedings up in a nice little bow, I can not recommend Ideamen’s May You Live in Interesting Times highly enough.  If you like unique musical amalgamations then you need look no further, and if like me you are a fan of Mr. Bungle there is no excuse why Ideamen should not be your new best friend.  Now if you’ll pardon me, I have to go comment on this “Penfolde’s” blog about his cool name.  Ooohhh, maybe he doesn’t know about the newest book by…

-- Penfold

Buy here: May You Live In Interesting Times
Buy here mp3: May You Live In Interesting Times

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