Pure Reason Revolution up their progressive game on Above Cirrus.
Release Date: 6th May 2022
Label: Inside Out Music
Format: digital / CD / vinyl
It’s been a spit over two years since Pure Reason Revolution made a comeback of sorts with Eupnea. Many, including us, saw it as a return to the musical form that saw them hailed at one time as the best of the new generation of Progressive music.
Above Cirrus pushes that album with a newset that’s edgier and heavier and frankly, all the better for it. The statement of intent with the opening gambit of Our Prism has us Tool fans drooling and champing at the bit as a tribal beat gives way to a brutal riff that’s softened by those signature PRR harmonies with Chloe Alper at the centre. All in a succinct three and a half minutes too. Less definitely being more. Of course Jon Courtney leads the way but with Greg Jong now back on board and fully committed, there’s a satisfying depth to the PRR line up – what the premier League would call strength in depth (but with a few more than three…).
Take Dead Butterfly. Three voices in harmony could be an angelic choir practice. Stained glass windows, expansive architecture and the light of God. A soft piano the only other sound. Then there’s an explosion, the contrast once again emphasised with a sudden stop and retune to the peaceful reveries. The talk is of light and shade – maybe alter that to gossamer light and oppressive darkness. The gentleness of New Kind Of Evil sand Cruel Deliverance seduces and lulls until the wild and uncontrolled aggression kicks in briefly as a reminder that all in the garden is not as rosy as anticipated. We’re never too far away from a sudden shift of gears; zero to sixty in the blink of an eye.
Their experiments with a more electronic direction back in the days of the post-The Dark Third period haven;t totally left them. The dance beats and skittering rhythms in Phantoms are reminders of the synth heavy days. They haven’t forgotten that they were once the new darlings of the prog worshippers either. We can forgive the indulgence of a ten minute extended piece on Scream Sideways. Once again, a cathedral ambience floats in and the percussive echo of Dark Third/Gilmour-ish guitar is picked up as a little bizarre sound effect episode enhances a vaguely eastern and heavily powerful instrumental passage. As they channel some inner Floyd/Echoes style in the loose funk section there’s a warm feeling that as we approach the end of Above Cirrus, the simple thought occurs that PRR have delivered their ultimate statement so far.
Returning to the light and shade notion, when it’s light, the music calmly floats gravity free, but when it’s dark, the effect is devastating. The combination is uplifting.
It’s been a long and complex journey for Pure Reason Revolution. All manner of personal and professional hurdles have been encountered and cleared. Their recent work, IMHO as they say, sees them being the band we want them to be.
Here’s Dead Butterfly from the album: