In 2011, I reviewed CII: Second Son (see review), the second album by 17 Pygmies, a band from Los Angeles, California (USA). That album gave me the feeling that life doesn't have to be lived in the fast lane. The album provided some fine relaxing moments to dream away on. For that reason I felt positive about the achievements of 17 Pygmies. I also expected the third and final chapter of the Celestina-trilogy to end this concept in style.
Now one year later I had the pleasure to listen to CIII: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale of Love and Quantum Physics). Again this CD has been wrapped up in an unusual paper sleeve that also contains a booklet comprising the whole story written by Jackson Del Rey (synthesizer, guitar, bass). The line-up of the band hasn't changed since the previous album. This means that Meg Maryatt is still responsible for the strong female vocals and some playing on the piano and the synthesizers. Jeff Brenneman (vocals, keyboards, guitars) and Dirk Doucette (vocals, percussion, keyboards, drums) complete the line-up of 17 Pygmies.
Musically, CIII is reminiscent of Celestina and CII: Second Son. Once again 17 Pygmies created an album that contains enjoyable mellow music. I think that people who enjoy the music of Tangerine Dream might like this album, because the ambient sound passages are more or less influenced by the early Tangerine Dream. However, in certain passages the music of Karda Estra crossed my mind as well. I noticed the same kind of mellow soundscapes and orchestral passages. Besides I think that people who fancy a band as Nosounds will like this fine album, but also the music of Laurie Anderson and Tori Amos is never far away due to the vocals of Meg Maryatt. This time I can add a couple of names to the list of possible influences: Ennio Morricone and Kraftwerk. To give the album a stronger classical feel 17 Pygmies invited several guest musicians like Bob Mora (bass), Lea Reis (background vocals), Claire Chenette (oboe), Larissa Fedoryka (cello) and Heather Lockie (viola). The music has certain themes that often return throughout the album. By doing so the album becomes recognizable and never gets bored.
Of course this album will not be loved by all people who like progressive rock. It's just a matter of personal taste, but trying to get into this kind of music is certainly no punishment. If you give the mellow side of the genre a try you will perhaps dream away on this relaxing music, just like I did. 17 Pygmies ended the Celestina-concept in style, indeed! I sincerely hope their next album to be as beautiful as this one!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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