Absolute Zero
Crashing Icons


The hypothesis that the (so-called) progressive genre will become again if not a style that a big slice of the audience will like and buy, at least a music that will be considered as worth taking seriously appears more and more unlikely with each passing day. Killed by its own excesses, sure - but especially by that collective will "Made in UK" which considered as "passé" (because elitist) all that was not elementary. So we have the (almost funny) situation where a musical language liked by the few is regarded as "mainstream", while Nirvana (the angular stone on which the USA rock charts are built) are considered to be the prototype of "alternative".

Sure, nowadays the "prog" panorama - from embarrassing pomposities to illustrious cul de sacs - is not a beautiful sight. To me the collective called Hughscore is the one that's the freshest and most creative, but this CD - Crashing Icons by the Florida-based trio called Absolute Zero - was for me a nice surprise. A bass player with a strong Hopper influence (Enrique Jardines), a keyboard player and singer who's agile and versatile (Aislinn Quinn); two musicians with a long career, who find here as their musical match a drummer that's a big part of a very illustrious tree: Pip Pyle.

This is an album that's really worth listening to. Four tracks lasting an hour - and some "heroic" gestures... this says quite a bit; but the wide compositional palette, the freshness of the timbres, and some solutions that are miles away from your average run-of-the-mill prog, all say this is a risk worth taking. The beginning of the first track left me quite perplexed - a summa of fine influences: a Thinking Plague bit (with Hopper on bass), then a passage that's almost Hatfield And The North with the (very wonderful) Northettes, then an aria à la Henry Cow circa In Praise Of Learning with Dagmar on vocals, then (at about 4'40") a moment that seems to arrive straight from National Health's Squarer For Maud... the impulse was to switch it off. But the album is good. Bared Cross finds a way to distance itself from illustrious - but ultimately sterile - influences. The very long Further On makes good use of fast sequences and - with its percussions and fast vocals - borders on Biota climates. The exuberant Stutter Rock/You Said is agile, has good keyboards and guest player Keith Edger on trumpet, who reminded me of Sal Marquez in his Zappa days; and even the closing track, Sueños Sobre Un Espejo, which at first had sounded to me as suffering from an excess of hispanisms and 3/4, after repeated listening showed to have a lot to offer. The two leaders are quite good, Pip Pyle really shines: there's hope for those who can play.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2004

CloudsandClocks.net | Feb. 17, 2004