STILLMAN (Chaz Craik) follows up his excellent ‘Eton Mess’ EP with another slab of retro-styled rock.
Despite the name somehow making me think of a generic hip-hop artist, STILLMAN succeeds once again in making ‘proper’ (and I mean the good old, Seventies original) Progressive rock sound fresh and re-vitalised.
Opening and title track ‘On Bended Knee’ opens with a Stone Roses type of guitar riff which kind of resurfaces in flashes throughout the song. However, this is more of a shuffling blues-inspired track, infused with some dancing Hammond organ licks. The vocals are on a higher range (think Supertramp / Yes) but clear and sharp and are interspersed with some nifty guitar work.
‘Swollen Air’ is a bit darker and grittier although the vocals are a touch softer (more ‘Californian desert’ than Rush) but still with that classic Seventies Prog refrain. ‘Small Deaths,’ has a funky edge, with deep bass-end riffs, building towards a controlled crescendo at the end of each chorus before dropping back into Jon Anderson mode, and then starting all over again.
EP closer, ‘The Debt’ is the longest of the four tracks at just over five minutes’ duration and opens quietly with gently picked guitar and hushed vocals. About a minute and a half in though, it fires up with some heavy background riffs and piercing solo work, with the final couple of minutes featuring some excellent guitar, and maintaining a constant tempo and rhythm.
And this is my only beef with this release: as a punk and blues man, I go more for the basic, conventional hash-bash rhythm and beat in a song. The odd time signatures of Prog Rock can be a bit of an inhibitor, I feel, when trying to get ‘into’ a track.
But that’s just me.
Overall, I’ve got to say that this is another excellent release from STILLMAN, and one well worth checking out.
(Unfortunately, I can’t find any streamed tracks / videos for this particular release just yet, but I’m sure they will appear somewhere, some time soon within the links attached to this post.)
(Released on 5th November 2012)