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Band: Bend Sinister

CD Title: “Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers”

Band Website: www.bendsinister.net

Label: Distort Light

Label Website:www.Teamdistort.com

Release Date: 2008

 

 A couple years ago I came across a Vancouver BC band called Bend Sinister who crafted a King Crimson inspired early styled proto-prog. Their music was dense and intense, guitar heavy with an effective Rhodes piano sprinkled throughout giving their music a nice retro sound. You can imagine my surprise at hearing their new CD entitled Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers. A lot has changed in the intervening years, including some band members and a major shift in musical style. But its all good because the new music is a great blend of prog influenced art rock. Bend Sinister are now a five-piece. From before we have Daniel Moxon (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Naben Ruthmun (guitars) and Jon Bunyan (guitars, vocals) and then we have new members Joel Meyers (bass, vocals) and Jason Dana (drums). The band are assisted in the studio by six others performing on various saxophones, strings and back-up vocals. 

 

Musically the band has moved into the late seventies writing music that bears the hallmarks of many of the great sounds from that era. You hear influences such as Queen, Supertramp, Elton John and a host of others from that time. The compositions are not overly long, more or less in the four-minute range, but each piece tends to go through any number of permutations. There will be grand introductions, strange middle-eights or bridges, slowing down, speeding up and of course climactic endings. There is a very upbeat melodic vibe produced throughout which is what puts their music clearly in an art rock style but embellished with plenty of proggy elements. There are still lots of guitars heard but keyboards play a significantly larger role in each of the band tunes. The arrangements are lush, even grand, featuring wall to wall instruments and layers and layers of harmony vocals. Thematically the band has separated the first seven pieces under the heading Stories of Brothers while the other seven tracks fall under Tales of Lovers. The first half is concluded in dramatic fashion with the bombastic “Because Because” (4:14) which instrumentally reminded me of some of the heavy music off of the Beatles Abbey Road. In the second half of the program track-eight is reprised before the band launch into “Demise” (7:58). This is the band’s tour-de-force, starting out in slower dramatic fashion with the first 2-minutes featuring string synths in the background over a stinging guitar lead line, sounding almost like Pink Floyd. The plaintive vocals come in and take the song to another level, building in intensity as more sound is added to the mix, then at 3:38 the whole thing shifts time and tempo and the instrumental assault begins. Crashing drums and scorching guitars explode and then halt while piano bass and drums set up a jazzy riff, then without notice drums and guitars explode again. At the 5-minute mark with the organ laying down a solid foundation everything moves into a slower vide, ending in an almost cathedral like tone. Whew!

 

Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers was a pleasant surprise. These are well crafted tunes that feature plenty of musically dynamics, sonic variety and major dose of seventies quirkiness. If you like the music of that era or the more contemporary stuff from bands such as Bryan Scary and The Shredding Tears [reviewed elsewhere on this site] then you’ll love Bend Sinister. This is a band and CD that should be heard by more people. I loved it.

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