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Matthew Parmenter - Astray

Matthew Parmenter - AstrayMatthew Parmenter is perhaps best known for his prog outfit, Discipline.  A solo album has long been anticipated and even though Discipline (and Eyestrings) bassist, Mathew Kennedy, joins Matthew on Astray, the music may not be what Discipline fans expected.

In all honesty, Astray took me by surprise.  I have no idea why, but I presumed that Matthew was going to adopt an Ozzy Osbourne Black Sabbath all-out-heavy rock persona, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The feel of the music has similarities to the feel of Canterbury, Todd Dillingham, Hammill, Home The Alchemist, and even Hogarth’s Marillion type albums.  That feel is helped in a big way by Matthew’s terrific vocals and his piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, violin, organ, synthesizers, marimba, Theremin, and Mellotron sounds.

Compositions and arrangements of all seven tracks are a credit to his song writing skills, creating that Genesis ‘bounce, IQ’s ‘Subterranea’ darkside with subtle moments of ‘heaviness’ and unexpected moments of psychedelia.  Lyrics create a feeling of unease with dark humour (the cover photo is of a cemetery with either an unusual satellite dish rig or fairground ride in the background), which makes me smile but is it really meant to be humorous or the inner thoughts of a mind filled with cynicism?  Either way, like the music, they are strangely addictive and at the very least clever in the observational.

The album runs to 68 minutes with the final epic, Modern Times, borrowing 21 minutes of those.

Like all music, Astray may not appeal to every prog fan on the first listen.  However, if you have a taste for the more delicate intricate side of the genre, you’ll come back to this CD time and time again.  More please, Matthew.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Matthew Parmenter

 

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