Monday, 29 April 2013

t - psychoanorexia

Haven't done this in a long time, but every once in a while an album comes along that requires more than just my private enjoyment and I feel the need to shout out loud to the few who may take notice, of something far greater than just 'a new release' or 'some great new music' or even a 'sure fire top 10 of the year'.
Some records are made that transcend mere music. On the musical planet that I call home - Progressive Rock - a quick perusal of will reveal a 'Top Prog Rock Albums List'. This is a 'best of' of the genre and frankly hasn't changed much since I've been a regular visitor to the sight, for the last 6 years or so. Aside from some shuffling around, the 'top 10' remains virtually unchallenged. In fact if you visited today, here is the order you would see...

1. Yes - Close To The Edge ( 1972 )
2. Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick ( 1972 )
3. Genesis - Selling England By The Pound ( 1973 )
4. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here ( 1975 )
5. Genesis - Foxtrot ( 1972 )
6. King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King ( 1969 )
7. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon ( 1973 )
8. King Crimson - Red ( 1975 )
9. Pink Floyd - Animals ( 1977 )
10. Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff ( 1975 )

Notice the trend.

The last release to crack the top 10 is from 1977. To be sure Animals is a classic, also a favorite of mine, but it's 36 years old.

I love all of these albums - although admittedly having not listened to #10 - and if were asked, would probably if pressed have to declare Camel's 'Moonmadness' ( #21 in the top 100 incidentally ) as my all time favorite,  but is it really? Or is the comfort and familiarity, of the 'prog' equivalent to an old pair of slippers at work here? Some deeper questions might be, 'Among the thousands of progressive rock releases since 1977, does time with the music reveal an inferiority to 'the greats' among all of them? Is there not at least a few albums produced in the last 36 years, that can vie for a spot in the 'impenetrable top 10'? Or have the thousands of progressive rock musicians out there suffered an inexplicable decrease in creative ability, never again to match those from the list above?

I don't think so.

To be frank, many of us who love progressive rock and are passionate about it, aren't spring chickens anymore. We grew up listening to the music above and that time was a breeding ground for experimentation and progression and was almost mainstream. Those days will always be fondly remembered and although 'prog' will likely never be mainstream again, beaten down into 'internet discovery' status, by the massive popular music machine that sacrifices integrity and deep connection with the artist and his/her creation, for samey 'flavor of the day' sexually charged, mind-numbing pablum, performed by 'pretty people', that serves more as background noise to our busy day, if not to distort a whole generations ability to listen to and be truly moved by an artist who doesn't sacrifice themselves, at the alter of 'mammon' for their three and a half minutes in the orgy of popular music culture!

But all is not lost. There are artists out there who 'create', who - and no, I don't say this lightly - despite our reluctance to knock the kings off of their thrones, are producing music to rival the best.

Which brings me to the artist known only as 't' ( Thomas Thielen ) from Germany, who has released 4 albums as a solo artist - and solo really means solo here, as he performs all instruments and vocals - his latest being the real focus of this post 'psychoanorexia'.

As a progressive rock music purchaser, the internet is where I find my music and rely heavily on samples, but more importantly the reviewers who inhabit the underground with me and with great zeal and affection, write of their discoveries. Much more than not, they get it right and if it's 'up my ally', I go ahead and order and am pleased that I did. 'psychoanorexia' - although based on a small sample size - is regarded by those who I trust with my hard earned money, a 5 star release. By musical description, this was a 'no-brainer' purchase for me, but really, until you hear the product, you're never sure. I have purchased some great albums in the last 6 years, certainly deserving of their 'no-brainer' status and play them regularly to this day and will continue to do so. I have also purchased some 'meh' albums - good, but not quite as good as advertised.

'psychoanorexia' falls into neither category. This is one of those albums that transcend. There is so much beauty and depth here, that to attempt to root it all out and do it justice after 10 or so listens, seems beyond me, a daunting task to be sure. Thielen has created an 'album for the ages'. In short - in my mind - a masterpiece, to take it's place among the greats and to easily reside with them for years to come.

What will you find here? Better yet, what won't you find here?

It certainly pays homage to the greats, but never ever does it re-hash them. Never during the listen of this album do you say to yourself "that sounds like....", it never lends itself to that. Don't get me wrong, there are elements of the greats, but this is a modern record, that has as much to do with Radiohead as it does with Floyd, or as little. It's an epic heartwrenching/mind-bending thriller of a movie, without the pictures, except the ones that creep into your head while listening.

66 minutes comprised of 4 epic length tracks that defy your ability to pigeonhole any one of them into a a 'nice and tidy' category, for as soon as you think you've got it, this mad genius - and I say this with all due respect and admiration - crosses you up, with a change of direction and mood. At times sad, at others reflective, angry and uplifting, but never boring or repetitive. You can't help but hang on every note anticipating what comes next, even after repeated listens.

There's no point in trying to review the 4 songs as separate entities here, it doesn't work. No song stands above another ( great is great folks ) as this must be taken as a whole, or not taken at all. In saying this, please understand I AM NOT SAYING, don't mind the song, for there are songs withing songs and the melodies and lyrics achieved here are second to none!

To continue on here would just be to heap superlative upon superlative and my vocabulary doesn't stretch as far as this album deserves. You get the point by now I think. If not, I'll say it outright and please understand, I don't say this lightly....THIS IS ONE OF THE FINEST ALBUMS/PIECES OF MUSIC EVER CREATED...period!

Thomas Thielen is a poet/composer/musician of the highest order and has created with 'psychoanorexia' a millennial masterpiece, not to be missed!

Here are some links to some reviews and Thielens web page. Please visit and read and if you plan on purchsing any music in the future, please do yourself a huge favor and put this at the top of your list. This music will never be heard on your local radio station or promoted and maybe that's a good thing. Music such as this, should be sought out, savored and cherished in this world full of background noise.