Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Veil by Michael Bernier

Michael Bernier's Veil is a great follow-up to his 2011 release, leviathan. (my review). Bernier is joined on this work by Kandy Harris, Dave Bodie, Martin Keith, and Colin Almquist but otherwise seems to play most of the parts himself.  So while this Stick Men alum has created a showcase for his Chapman Stick playing, it's a bit more accessible than Stick Men or similar work (think Tony Levin et al). I don't mean that in a derogatory way, it's just that some people prefer smaller doses of progressive music.

What does that mean exactly? Except for two tunes, Falling Down Steps at 6:50 and Fretnetic at 7:13, everything else comes in at or below five minute mark. So no rambling opuses here. Without being restrained, each composition has more of a typical rock structure to it. So think humming along with the melody or the vocals. In a way, Bernier seems to be working around some of the preconceptions that people have of progressive rock.

I was immediately drawn to Falling Down Steps because of the title's similarity with Stick Men's Nude Ascending Staircase from their album Deep. While I doubt it was intentional, I imagine Bernier exhibiting a little self deprecating humor here. Unnecessarily, of course. Framed in a guitar-bass-drums rock format, FDS exhibits a great interplay of guitar and bass. Achilles' Heel on the other hand, has the guitar work ride effortlessly over a heavy bass line.

Kandy Harris' backing vocals are one differentiator of Bernier's music for me on both Veil and Leviathan. The harmonies they produce on Veil and Nothing New really elevate the instrumentals.

You can listen to and purchase Veil from Bernier's page on Bandcamp. I can't wait to see what he does next.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

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