These self confessed “mean-spirited iconoclasts” talk a good game. Go to their website – http://fatherdivine.net/site/about/ Yes. These boys are all about THE MUSIC. Make no mistake. They only want to please themselves. The rest of us can get screwed.
Good. They won’t care what I write about them, then. I’ll just be a lickspittle servant of “The Man” unable to comprehend the purity, no, make that the FEROCITY of their vision.
Right, I’ll shoot straight from the hip, then. There’s not a single new idea on this record. It’s a melange of styles, from Jazz to Prog, with a bit of thrash thrown in. The vocalist Joe Ferrara sounds like Mike Patton – close your eyes -he really does. That’s not a criticism, but immediately you’ve a nagging feeling that you’ve heard this stuff before. This is not an impression that the music does anything to dispel at all.
The tracks are all lengthy, giving the musicians, Chris LeBoeuf (guitar), Shawn Hendricks (Bass), Joe Vernazza (Drums) with Ferrara adding Keys and Sax, a chance to stretch out and show us all their chops. There are awkward time-signature shifts recalling Mars Volta but without the bonkersness. The sax breaks are less John Zorn, more David Jackson (Van Der Graaf). There are shouty bits, there are quiet bits -often in the same song.
“Stevedore Song” at just under 15 minutes, is the centrepiece of the album. It starts off with an acoustic guitar, goes all saxy, moves into ambient, then rock before a fading coda. It’s pure prog in structure and execution and nothing that Soft Machine weren’t doing 30 years (or more) ago. “Evil Zen” kicks off like King Crimson, then gets a bit Soundgarden-y. The last track, “The Times they are a-Endin'” (See what they did there?) is the most straightforward track ( it’s almost a ballad) on the album, and that’s a compliment.
The thing is, this album is such a chore. When each track starts (only two tracks clocks in at less than 5 minutes), you know that by its end you’ll have been dragged through several stylistic hedges backwards and be spitting mouthfuls of grass and twigs from your mouth. And then you have to do it again. And again.
I’m a reviewer that loves Prog. I love most forms of music (but draw the line at Country) and I listen, as most do, in the hope of being left moved and stunned by the power of music. I just wasn’t moved at all by this release. This is wilful, progressive music for those that think themselves a cut above the common herd of pop fans. Not a bad thing, but in using all the musicianly armaments it had, it ended up sounding like something else. There was nothing of itself in there.
I just wanted something more. Maybe I was asking a bit too much. As they say –
“In light of a culture that demands either lowbrow titillation or shameful pandering from its artists, and for our total lack of consideration for your tastes and sensibilities, again we apologize. If, by chance, the only thing that matters to you is musical quality, then, by all means, buy a Father Divine album.” (from the website)
Take from that what you will.