In May 2013 I did an interview with former Moth Vellum guitarist Johannes Luley (see interview) as a result of the release of his fantastic first solo album Tales From Sheepfather's Grove (2013, see review). When I asked him about his future plans, he told me to be 'super excited about Perfect Beings', his new Los Angeles based prog band. They had just begun to record the debut, which should be due around Christmas 2013. Now the eponymous album has come out; it has been recorded with drummer Dicki Fliszar− who used to play for Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and who was once a member of the British rock band Skin − bassist Chris Tristram − who played with Marjorie Fair and the Canadian band Artok − lead singer Ryan Hurtgen and keyboard player Jesse Nason.
The album was recorded in the spring of 2013 at Johannes Luley's My Sonic Temple Studio; the lyrics are loosely based on a science fiction novel called Tj And Tosc by Suhail Rafidi. This book deals with subjects like transformation, identity, technology and love in a post-apocalyptic world. Well, after receiving a copy of the album, I can now fully understand why Luley was so excited about his new band. What he and his fellow musicians achieved on this record is of an incredible high level. The ten tracks demonstrate the strong musicianship of all band members.
Perfect Beings consist of several band members who love the music of Yes, so it's not surprising that this band has left its mark throughout the album. Especially the guitar parts performed on the lap steel, acoustic and electric guitars are reminiscent of Steve Howe. However, it not only applies to the guitar sound but also to the bass parts, which have clear touches of Chris Squire's way of playing. And finally it's hard to deny that the lead and harmony vocals are quite similar to the vocals of this great British prog band. Personally I think that the music of Perfect Beings is principally in the vein of the Yes albums Going for the One (1977), Tormato (1978) and Drama (1980).
However, every now and then the music also tends towards post-rock or folk-rock. I couldn't help thinking of bands as Anathema or Gazpacho. These are mostly the mellower parts which work very well next to the Yes-like progressive rock tunes. Although it isn't easy to mention any favourites − since the level of compositions is very high − I have a slight preference for the tracks Removal Of The Identity Chip and One Of Your Kind. These pieces contain beautiful lap steel guitar parts which made me think of the well-known excellent Yes piece Awaken .
Being a musician you have to be satisfied with the kind of debut album Perfect Beings recorded. So I have to compliment all the musicians who were responsible for recording this terrific album! People who read this review thoroughly must come to the conclusion that this album is also a must have for Yes fans!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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