The mystique of good prog rock is equal parts the ability to flawlessly shift through intelligent structures and the beautiful classical influenced orchestration. These parts, the sound and the shape, both play pivotal roles in the great history of progressive bands since the genres heyday of the 70s. Which brings us to Nashville, Tennessee’s Sound&Shape, a band most certainly in touch with the craft and complexities of good prog. After their debut full length in 2007, they released their sophomore effort “The Love Electric” EP on January 27th, 2009 through Engineer Records.
The EP roars to a start with the title tracks spastic drumming that seems to battle back and forth with the gorgeous guitar tones. This section only last for about 30 seconds before Sound&Shape begin their shifting rhythmic changes demonstration. The music settles as singer/guitarist Ryan Caudle’s beautifully strong yet gentle voice blows in like a cool breeze. His vocals definitely share a resemblance to Dredg’s Gavin Hayes, yes, that good. Huge dynamic shifts happen throughout the entire track, wandering all over the musical spectrum while managing to keep the listener from getting lost. Intricate is an understatement when describing the sound of the rhythm section, drummer Jerry Pentecost and bassist David C. Somerall. “The Space Between” is fine testament to their work as Caudle’s guitar playing pulsates and dances around in strange times while Pentecost’s tight shifts and jazzy groove bring to mind the complex calm of Bill Bruford or Gavin Harrison. For anyone missing the sound of 70’s prog, the rolling crashes of this song should bring you much delight.
“And the Clouds Begin to Part,” is a strikingly appropriate name for this instrumental middle section of the EP. A quiet ambient hum accompanies epic synths before the guitar washes in with a glisten that Pink Floyd loved so dear. Caudle’s guitar playing often echoes pieces of David Gilmoure with the clean deep space drift of his notes. The crescendo hits before the songs end with a rapid march towards the finish. “And We Began as Two,” starts with vocals that bring to mind the mellow side of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Keides mixed with the more restrained crooning of mid 70s King Crimson. The guitars swirl with Latin influence as the rhythms continue their constant warping time changes. A sharp saxophone solo leads into an equally impressive guitar solo as Sound&Shape dazzle and shimmer about.
“The Solitary Journey,” the first track to embrace prog’s 10 minute plus adoration, begins with the exclamation, “Welcome to my Soul.” This line speaks volumes about this band, as they truly create artistic music from deep within the band members. The sound is bright and optimistic, with shades of Dredg shining in on their craft. Slinky bass lines carry the song into the first deep ominous bend, and the song continues to take shape around the music in an incredibly natural progression. While the shifting delves far from where it came, the song remains very much intact. Stop-start rhythms bring to mind the incredible talent of early 70s Yes, while slightly distorted vocals add a beautiful mid range melody to the mix. The voyage comes to a most triumphant end, and is not one that you will soon forget. With their unqiue Dredg meets “roots” prog sound, fans should expect great things from this power trio for many years to come.