miRthkon - Snack(s)

(CD 2013, 54:54, AltrOck Productions ALT-038)

The tracks:
  1- QXP-13 Space Modulator(3:49)
  2- Eat A Bag Of DiX(5:08)
  3- Hapax Legomena(4:47)
  4- Nocturne, Op.33(4:15)
  5- The Cascades(6:37)
  6- Snack(s) - The Song!(7:12)
  7- Osedax(6:16)
  8- Mymaridae(6:25)
  9- Variety Pack(2:52)
10- Fairies Wear Boots(7:35)

Website      AltrOck Productions

For those of you unfamiliar with miRthkon − and I admit to having heard of them, but not actually listened to them − the band comprises: Wally Scharold (guitars, vocal, keyboards, percussion), Matt Guggemos (drums), Travis Andrews (guitar), Carolyn Walter (piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax), Jamison Smeltz (alto and baritone sax) and Matt Lebofsky (bass, vocals, keyboards, percussion).

Snacks(s) is their second release on the Italian label AltrOck, following on from the critically acclaimed Vehicle (2009). It's at the more experimental and RIO end of the prog spectrum, but it's still pretty accessible and melodic, making splendid use of a variety of different instruments and a stupendous wind section. As such it is bound to appeal to fans of Frank Zappa and, much more recently Frogg Cafe to name just a few indomitable artists playing complex and avant-garde material. Vocals aren't particularly high on the agenda but when they do swirl in and out of the complex musical melange the band create then, I'd have to say they are reminiscent of another left-field artist I'm fond of, namely the hugely talented Johnny Unicorn − check out The Cascades.

The Black Sabbath cover Fairies Wear Boots closes out Snacks(s), which is very well done and a nice touch. It's refreshing to hear something this original amidst all the tribute bands, female fronted screaming prog metal bands and generic, no, bad bands out there competing for your hard-earned cash. In these days of the internet you can always have a listen on any one of a number of legal websites before deciding whether mirRthkon are for you. Start with their website, where they describe themselves as an 'amplified chamber ensemble masquerading as a rock band'.

You won't be dancing to this CD, that's for certain, with its complex and continually shifting rhythms and time signatures. But there's enough melody on offer to justify some discrete foot tapping and the density of the material reveals itself on repeated listens. We have a marking guide here at background and I would go with a rating of four out of five stars, but I recognize that this won't be everybody's cup of tea so I would rather rate a bit less for the wider prog community, or at least those prepared to give original, challenging work a chance. The album art, evoking Warhol pop-art is tremendous by the way. All in all this is a very professionally put together package.

***+ Brian Watson (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Where to buy?