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Spock's Beard: Noise Floor
Spock's Beard - Noise Floor Music Review

Spock's Beard: Noise Floor

Melodic Progressive Rock

It's lucky number 13. Yep. Noise Floor is Spock's Beard's thirteenth studio album in a career that spans better than 25 years. The album is quintessential Spock's Beard. As keyboard player Ryo Okumoto says, "If you have enjoyed what we have done up until now, then I am sure you will like Noise Floor. It has all the elements people have come to expect from us, but pushed just a little onwards."

Spock's Beard Band Photo

Spock's Beard

Noise Floor has all the hallmarks of a Spock's Beard recording. One of the primary features is simply the ambitious, somewhat complex, song arrangements built upon the individual contributions of each member. In the creative process and as a band, Spock's Beard is truly the sum of its parts. Also notable is the plain fact that technical prog wonkery never trumps the essentials of song melody, harmony, and groove. Spock's Beard could bog you down with musical intrigue, but instead they give you hooks in a melody, rhythm, or refrain to draw you in. Yet their real "ace in the hole" is vocalist Ted Leonard (Enchant) whose voice is the steady constant that keeps your musical mind following the arrangement. There's more essential characteristics to the band, but the end result is the same: melodic progressive rock that is both intriguing and entertaining.

The album arrives in a special edition two CD package, the primary CD with eight songs and the bonus Cutting Room Floor EP CD with four songs. Rather than dissect every song, something that, with progressive music, can lead to dubious results, I'd rather mention some favorite highlights. Being a large fan of guitar lines and solos, I really enjoyed Alan Morse's aggressive solos in both To Breathe Another Day and What Becomes Me, and the contrasting lighter lines of So This Is Life. That song is also an example of how Spock's Beard can draw you in with several different hooks: it's inherent melody, the synth orchestration, and vocal harmonies. With Somebody's Home, the band gives their prog AOR accessibility with a pleasing melody and rising catchy refrain. But perhaps the killer track for me on the first CD is the instrumental Box Of Spiders because it simply sounds like it. The song has all these various and diverse parts from the players that weave and bob, twist and turn, like a gaggle of arachnids jostling for position in a box. It's probably the most progish song here, but it's held together by both the melodic undercurrent and technical complexity.

As for the bonus CD, I can say two things. One, as opposed to the primary CD, they are all short songs, one at a mere three and half minutes (Armageddon Nervous, an instrumental), the others around four or so. Second, they all reminded me of English prog rock. Duh? You say. Spock's Beard is heavily influenced by classic progressive rock from the UK. Nevertheless, and it bears repeating: Noise Floor is simply pure Spock's Beard, creating melodic progressive rock that is both intriguing and entertaining. Easily recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

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The Bottom Line

Noise Floor is simply pure Spock's Beard, creating melodic progressive rock that is both intriguing and entertaining. Easily recommended.

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