vrijdag 22 oktober 2010

A.C.T. - 1999 - Today's Report

Today's Report

01. Abandoned World (4:04)
02. The Wandering (5:37)
03. Grandpa Phone Home (4:38)
04. Waltz With Mother Nature (6:38)
05. Why Bother (4:52)
06. Today's Report (4:44)
07. Welcome (5:50)
08. Cat Eyes (4:26)
09. The Chase (5:14)
10. Personalities:
- a. Foreplay (0:23)
- b. Piece Of Meat (1:15)
- c. Tinnitus (2:24)
- d. Lord Of Lies (2:24)
- e. Emelie (Ms. Amnesia) (2:00)
- f. Insomniac (4:38)
- g. Concluding Speech (0:34)

 - Herman Saming / lead vocals, backing vocals, silent trumpet
- Jerry Sahlin / synthesizers, vocals, backing vocals, vocoder
- Ola Andersson / guitars, backing vocals
- Peter Asp / bass, percussion, backing vocals
- Tomas Erlandsson / acoustic and electronic drums and percussion, soundscapes, baking machine and swollen kneecap, backing vocals

A.C.T. has successfully demonstrated, thru this debut album, that prog can be performed in "humorous" way . It challenges the typical association that prog means "dark". The music of this album is definitely energetic, with punchy keyboard and some guitar riffs, but not in a format that most people get used to it. It's not a straight rock as we used to know and hear; but it's not under any sub-genre of prog music we have ever heard also. I'm not sure whether we need to create another definition of sub-genre of prog to classify A.C.T? Their music is the kind like IQ (especially the way the singer, Herman Saming, sings is smilar to Paul Menel of Nomzamo album) meets SUPERTRAMP, DREAM THEATER, and probably ELO. So, what would you like to call it? NEO-PROGRESSIVE METAL?Uuugh, I dunno really. They're just different and really excellent! I love it.
The album comprises 8 tracks and one epic titled as "PERSONALITIES (the long one)" with 7 tracks underneath the epic - so 15 tracks in total. All tracks are wonderfully composed!
The opening track "ABANDONED WOLD" starts with guitar riffs that reminds me to prog met bands like DREAM THEATER, SYMPHONY X, but it happens only a short period and the music flows with keyboard as lead. The intro part before vocal line enters is really nice; loaded with energy and frequent tempo change in a very short duration. When the voice enters "Welcome to an abandoned world ..etc" it's very obvious that the singing style of the singer reminds me to IQ "Nomzamo" album. The combination of keyboard and lead guitar is in the right balance; there are nice guitar riffs in the middle of the track especially during transitions. The combination of vocal and lead guitar at the back is excellent. There are lots of sudden tempo changes in this track.
The second track "THE WANDERING" flows in the same upbeat tempo as the first, but this time it is opened with a lead guitar work by Ola Andersson. The keyboard is now playing at a background music - it sometimes crunch at the end of the bars. When the singer sings "Hold on tight, you think that you are right .." it sounds poppy but backed with heavy guitar riffs. There are nice orchestration parts in this track.
The band then brings us to "WALTZ WITH MOTHER NATURE" where this time the keyboard plays a dominating role with some guitar riffs. It has frequent tempo changes and various melodies. The structure is a bit complex but the band performs it in an upbeat tempo so it does not seem that complex. Voice quality is excellent; stunning guitar and keyboard works. The only thing lacking is that it ends up with "fade-out" style that I don't like.
"WHY BOTHER" to me sounds like IQ performed in a faster tempo - stunning lead guitar work (that sometime reminds me to LED ZEPPELIN's "Whole Lotta Love") combined with very nice keyboard in the vein of symphonic progressive rock. The mixture of many kinds of music styles has made this track fruitful and innovative.
"TODAY's REPORT" is probably the most humorous musical taste than other tracks. It has a very short piece of lyrics (only two lines) repeated many times throughout the track. "Happy birthday to a new-born dream" "Somewhere around the globe can't you see??" The beauty is that the repetition does not create a sense of boring because it's packaged in such a way that the music styles are different. It's an interesting track to enjoy!
The next track "WELCOME" is opened with a music dominated by lead guitar. When vocal enters the music, again I can sense the IQ singing style even though ACT voice quality is much better than Paul Menel in Nomzamo album. One thing that I notice really well is the very similarity of melody in the music segment when this track enters minute 3:50 - 4:00. It's very obvious with transition piece in IQ SUBTERRANEA album!
The seventh track "CAT EYES" is really a worth-observing track because it combines the jazz style at opening when the vocalists sings the intro part. But it then moves to a faster tempo with rock style complete with relatively thin guitar riffs. The guitar fills during interlude performed in jazzy style is really amazing! This track deserves high recognition music composition and especially in innovation. It's really excellent!
The next track "CHASE" has more guitar riffs combined with keyboard work and singing style in the vein of neo-prog music. The keyboard solo accompanied with guitar riffs and then followed by electric guitar solo are really stunning. The keyboard is then taking the lead in a faster way just before the vocal line returns back. It's a wonderful composition. The ending part is dominated by electric guitar solo.
Vocal and keyboard kick off the epic through a short piece "Foreplay" followed by full- blown rock music and electric guitar solo in the vein of progressive metal. It then suddenly stops and continued with a guitar fills in HACKETTian style. The music then flows in a solid way combining various style of music, i.e. bits of prog metal and neo prog. The vocal quality is excellence. Keyboard and guitar are fabulous! When the epic enters "Insomniac" part, suddenly the right-side of my speaker turns off and I heard only the vocal voice accompanied by keyboard at the left-side. The drum then enters the music and the two speakers work as usual.

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