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Algernon "Ghost Surveillance"
Algernon "Ghost Surveillance"

Chicago-based group Algernon are a quintet of leader Dave Miller (guitars,synth, organ, piano), second guitarist Toby Summerfield (who used to be the drummer for Larval), vibraphonist/percussionist Katie Wiegman, bassist Tom Perona & drummer Cory Healey. While the inclusion of vibraphonist Wiegman might lead one to think it is more jazz-oriented, Algernon are very much a 'rock' band. Many have apparently compared the group to the more famous Chicago-based ensemble Tortoise. I can't speak to that since I am unfamiliar with that group except by name and reputation. The music of Algernon is of two different minds. First there is a highly composed, prog rock aspect that compares favorably with some of Larval's work and has a certain link to the 1980s version of King Crimson due to the sometimes interwoven guitar parts. The most fascinating thing about Algernon to me is the way they play with tempo and rhythm. A piece will have some really steady groove that is systematically stretched and skewed by the often borderline-psychotic drum patterns or the complex interplay between the guitar parts. I can't say for sure but many times this sounds as though the players are actually in two different time signatures at the same moment. What I can say is that the rhythmic avant-garde-isms are quite obviously intentional and very, very effective! In their other mood they are an ambient group who, in the quieter sections, I am sure will draw comparisons to some of Brian Eno's pioneering work (bits of "Music For Films" & "Music For Airports" spring to my mind). I was also reminded of The Flaming Lips in certain places as well - without the vocals since Algernon are a totally instrumental band. And sometimes they mix the two aspects to great effect! Overall this gets 4 out of 5 stars and will certainly appeal to those with a taste for more adventurous rock music.

This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 17 February, 2010.
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