Parallel Or 90 Degrees - More Exotic Ways To Die

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 114
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:53:00

Though I have been familiar with the name, it wasn't until listening to More Exotic Ways To Die that I understood what the band is about. They have released four studio albums prior to this, plus a live video. There is also available from their website ? literally, in that you download the tracks ? a compilation album called Enjoy Your Own Smell. So, there's plenty of Parallel Or 90 Degrees (Po90) material to be had. In fact, this album contains that online compilation CD in the PC/MAC multimedia section.

Anyway, now on to the music. Whilst listening to this CD, I was struck by these thoughts: definitely prog rock; hmm, makes me think of Echolyn; hmm, that sounds like Emerson Lake and Palmer (and no, not because they're my retro-focus of late); ah, that bit there sounds like Marillion. Now, what do I mean by those thoughts? Well, the first one is fairly easy ? Po90 are not prog metal, they aren't ambient, or angular. There is a strident sense of purpose and heavy use of keys that I associate with Echolyn, not to mention the vocal harmonies as on "Embalmed In Acid." My disclaimer is that I'm not suggesting influence in either direction, though their influences are likely the same. There are some keys? maybe it's a Moog? that sounds particularly ELPish. At yet, at times, for just a phrase or two, I think of classic Genesis, and of King Crimson (a hint of "In The Court Of The Crimson King" on "Impaled On Railing"). And that Marillionness I hear? Well, the latter part of the album reminds me of "This Strange Engine." I think a good comparison is Porcupine Tree.

That said, we are really only talking about snippets, bits and pieces, a particular tone or phrase here and there. In fact, there is a track, "Drum One," that is downright techno. Quirky techno, mainly, as you can guess by the title, due to the percussion (Alex King), though some weird synth effects (Andy Tillison Diskdrive and/or Sam Baine), shimmery guitar work from Dan Watts and throbbing bass (Ken Senior) are layered a top. Shimmery is a word that describes at lot of Watts leads? when they aren't acidic and fuzzed up. Tillison Diskdrive is a vocalist with quite a unique voice. There are times when it's not great, but it's not awful either. I guess I'm particular about vocals. But, the main point here is that he sorta sounds like various people, but pinning it to anyone?well, his voice is flexible enough to take on different aspects based on the material. Mostly, he makes me think of Echolyn's Ray Weston? "A Man Of Thin Air" is a driving, heavy piece ? grinding and shimmering at the same time, with a funky main rhythm. It quite easily could have taken on some angularity and the acidic leads from guitarist Dan Watts do have a bit of that. It's Tillison Diskdrive gleefully making his Hammond sing at the top of its lungs, so to speak. Oh, well, give "The Dream" a listen, though, which outside of the "More Exotic?" suite, and believe you me, King Crimson will most definitely come to mind. If other pieces on the album were heavy, this is by far the heaviest. Not in metal terms, but in that dark, sludgy, muscular way. Like an anvil being hammered on your head for short, but effective, periods of time, giving way to atmospheric interludes. Actually, the marching hammers of Pink Floyd's The Wall come to mind, though not necessarily Floyd themselves.

While many of the track titles aptly describe the music ? which isn't always the case with bands ? this truth is belied by "Embalmed In Acid," which is more a silvery, shimmery (see, I told ya), dreamy piece. "The Heavy Metal Guillotine Approach" is another heavy track, here driven more by percussion (Alex King) ? and heavy metal is an, um, apt description, and yet a little more varied and textured than your typical metal. And thankfully, Tillison Diskdrive keeps to "clean" vocals. Watts lets loose on guitar with a monster lead. Despite the humorous title, this is not a send up of metal. No, they play it serious. "The One That Sounds Like Tangerine Dream" is the one that sounds like Tangerine Dream. Early Tangerine Dream, mind you. This segues into the floaty, breathy "A Body In Free Drift." Well, it's floaty for a time, before becoming another throbbing, raw, and emotionally cathartic track. "Petroleum Addicts" mixes the heaviness of "The Dream" and the prog rock the started the album together? along with a passage that seems so much like moody new-wave punk. The Smiths meets The Clash meets The Cure with lots of Hammond and tinkly synth work (the latter later on in the track). After a brief pause, we get a brief coda, that restates some of the "In The Court?"-like organ phrases before Watts just lets his guitar sing ? you know those kind of leads I like (Rothery, Gilmour, for example).

The variation on this album, both from track to track and within each track keeps it interesting. The more you listen, the more you are caught in the Po90 web, the more little touches, little twists and turns are revealed. I can see why folks haven't gotten around to reviewing the bonus material ? the main disk is infectious. I'm hooked.

A word or two about that bonus material. What you get is the complete Running Rings album (which I'll review soon), which technically predates Po90 and is technically Po90 though it was a Gold Frankincense Disk Drive recording (previously unreleased). Enjoy Your Own Smell compilation CD, plus other assorted tracks and an 8 minute video segment taken from their Unbranded video ? a live performance with a decidedly 60s feel ? the production not the music. And more.

More Exotic Ways To Die: Impaled On Railing (4:44) / A Man Of Thin Air (5:06) / Embalmed In Acid (5:42) / The Heavy Metal Guillotine Approach (5:27) / Drum One (3:14) / The One That Sounds Like Tangerine Dream (1:31) / A Body In Free Drift (8:29) / The Dream (2:38) / Petroleum Addicts (11:02)

Andy Tillison Diskdrive ? vocals, organ, synthesizers
Sam Baine ? piano, synthesizers
Dan Watts ? guitars, samples
Alex King ? drums
Ken Senior - bass

The Corner Of My Room
The Time Capsule
No More Travelling Chess
Unbranded - Music From The EEC Surplus
More Exotic Ways To Die (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: January 12th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 980
Language: english


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