The burgeoning U.S prog scene was augmented a couple of years ago by the L.A.-based Perfect Beings, who caused something of a quiet storm through the release of their debut album (2014, see review). Building on this, the band's second album this time is more of a slow burner.
There's lots of subtlety and variety to enjoy across the ten tracks, which range from the short, pulsating instrumental Samsara followed by the longest piece The Love Inside, that starts with a sweet piano introduction courtesy of Jesse Nason and settles nicely in to a gentle, laid-back groove. Opener Mar Del Fuego has a few interesting elements, one of them being the chunky bass lines of Chris Tristram and the jazzy guitar flourishes of Johannes Luley (ex-Moth Vellum), who introduces one or two slightly Latino rhythmic sequences.
Volcanic Streams is faster and more dynamic, its jangling, slightly discordant passage bringing drama and texture, and was it my imagination: there is even a hint of Tuvan throat-singing in there too. Again with The Thrill Seeker, a slightly Japanese edge gives it an extra melodic edge. Indeed, the band is particularly good at adding nuances of light and shade behind Ryan Hurtgen's airy, emotional voice. Lovers of bands like Gazpacho will find much to admire in Perfect Beings' intricate style, while Luley, especially in Cause And Effect, shows himself to be something of a Steve Howe acolyte in the execution of some of the guitar licks.
The album is dedicated to Chris Squire and mastering engineer Doug Sax. I predict it will be seen as one of the best albums of the year by certain factions. For my part, it's a good album full of interesting ideas and certainly worth a listen.
*** Alison Reijman
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