Released: Jun 9, 2009
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Ohlone Recordings
Number Of Tracks: 18
Experimentation and progression are business as usual for dredg, and in that respect The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is another 4 years at the office.
The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
UG Team, on june 11, 2009 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: The four years since Dredg's last album, Catch Without Arms' have felt like twice that, due in part to release delays and other problems. Undoubtedly the musical evolution required for the band to stay true to their longstanding change' ethic must take a while, but the greedy listener becomes accustomed to a 2 year wait with major changes only coming every once in a while. By the fourth album most acts are way past their formative period but dredg burden themselves with a new formative period every record; the benefit of course being the quality of the music they produce.
Defying expectations immediately, the band contradict previous opening epics such as Same Ol' Road' and Ode To The Sun' by starting this one off with a chorus of small children. Yup. Catch Without Arms' wasn't mundane by any means but the sheer volume of experimental oddities was fairly conservative; they make a welcome return on The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion'. The album is in the following format: there are ten proper' full length songs with vocals, four lyrical vignettes under the Stamp Of Origin' prefix and four instrumental jams. More than ever before the groove is of utmost importance and Dino Campanella's remarkable talent in being creative and exploratory in his drumming whilst maintaining a stable beat is more blatant than ever. Drums and vocals take centre-stage and bassist Drew Roulette is as always sadly reserved but guitarist Mark Engles adds massive amounts of texture and depth as he contributes little bits of melodies, loops and layers in a seemingly spontaneous manner.
The tone frequently fluctuates from track to track, transitioning smoothly from a dreamy, El Cielo'-esque atmosphere (R U O K?') into an exact and sobered approach (I Don't Know') and back again throughout. The spectrum of instrumentation widens vastly beyond the core of guitars, drums and vocals, be it through string and horn sections on the undeniably suave Mourning This Morning', bassy synthesizers on the Stamp Of Origin' tracks or, in the case of the aptly titled Drunk Slide', just about any percussive instrument you'd care to imagine. I'm not usually one to refer so often to specific songs but on an album as varied as this it is very challenging to make statements about the sound of the work as a whole without leaving numerous omissions. In terms of quality, however, it is fairly simple to say that The Pariah...' is the most well conceived and constructed album this year has seen yet. // 9
Lyrics: Another album, another rut, another concept. This time vocalist/lyricist Gavin Haye drew inspiration from Charles Darwin and Salman Rushdi's essay Imagine There Is No Heaven', the end result being a musical letter based around the themes of life, death, faith and science. The visual elements are more important than ever, with the every little detail holding weight and relevance when put alongside another particular detail, be it musical, lyrical or again visual. The prevalent message' is more or less summarised on Pariah' and I Don't Know', both criticisms of blind faith if not religion itself. The abstract is moved to one side for the first time, Meaning has always prevailed over style and language with Hayes, but his words are provocative and rich without being overly cryptic or artistic for the sake of being artistic. He takes on an assortment of roles, from the narrator to the philosopher to the observer but this variety doesn't take away from the idea of all fourteen sets of lyrics coming together as a cohesive package; a trait mirrored in the music.
The man has come a long way from the days of his band's debut, Leitmotif', in terms of his words and how he delivers them. He seems to have finally found his voice and his messages are relayed succinctly, unlike Leitmotif's which had a lot of fluff which bordered on the pretentious. His melodies have become even more expansive and don't seem to be inhibited by his range as they have been in the past, but his tone of voice is not far removed from that of Catch Without Arms', another indicator that he's found a comfortable niche for his voice. Having said that now, it seems likely that in the future drastic changes will inevitably come. // 10
Overall Impression: Progression is something inherent to Dredg, so it's unavoidable that The Pariah...' will disappoint some and absolutely thrill others. It also makes it very difficult to make bold statements about how it weighs up overall against other recordings because evolution is always expected. Only very briefly does this album let itself down, when Saviour' and Long Days And Vague Clues' irritate and disrupt the album's flow, though certainly not beyond repair. As referred to in many an interview, all four members have applied meticulous attention to detail in making this, and the result is one of those albums where entirely new elements will be discovered with every other listen.
Perhaps more so than any other dredg album, The Pariah...' feels like a journey (this includes Leitmotif' which was about one!), especially towards the end where the conclusive post-rocking of Down To The Cellar' and bittersweet afterthought of Stamp Of Origin: Horizon' leave you with a feeling of completion that should be familiar if you've ever finished a dredg record before. // 9
The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
jgsb2001, on june 11, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: After hearing the first three singles for the past month - Saviour, I Don't Know, Information - I was ready for more a Catch Without Arms sound, which is not a bad thing. However, the listener is treated to an even better sound, The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion (PPD from here on out) has its own unique mix of all past Dredg albums while treading new sonic territory.
There are far more uses of quirky instruments and a more diverse sound that all somehow meld nicely together. This is not a loud album, but one with many subtle undertones. Definitely give it at least one listen with headphones on. I especially love the different kind of transitions within each song. Listen to Pariah and the first thing you hear sounds like some type of nursery rhyme from an R&B album or something you would hear played during a dance from Mia Michaels on the tv show So You Think You Can Dance (I know, weird reference:). There are three distinct sonic elements that all meld well together.
All of the 'fillers' really do add to the overall theme and sound, so be sure to listen all the way through. // 9
Lyrics: My first reaction was, "Blah, bland." But as with most lyrics you need to let them sit and digest - it is hard to 'get' lyrics after 12 listens, but I'll do my best. Overall I think this is Dredg's finest lyrical albums. Each song by itself has interesting lyrical content, but as a whole the album's lyrics are much, much more interesting. Look at the song titles. Really listen to the lyrics in the beginning and contrast them with the lyrics in the last songs. This is an album describing a journey. I don't have a concrete idea about what Gavin and the guys are saying, but I can feel that it is epic and powerful.
On their own, some of the 'fillers' can sound 'cheesy' (R U O K), but taken in context they work and are very powerful. So far my favorite is contrasting Ireland with Quotes. It is interesting to note that in Ireland the singer is 'never gonna leave this place' and then in Quotes is looking for 'a way outta here.'
Many references have been made to Salman Rushdie's essay Imagine There's No Heaven: A Letter to the 6 Billionth Citizen"... Which makes for even more interesting lyrical fodder. // 10
Overall Impression: I admit, on first listen this album had me saying "not bad, but I'm a little underwhelmed." As with most great art (think Tool, Isis, Dream Theater, Pelican) you will need to give this album a few listens before making up your mind on its greatness.
For me, this is one of the best albums I have heard in a while. Go buy it now! // 10