Band: Cary Clouser

CD Title: “Finger Paintings”

Band Website:

Label: Independent DEMO Release

Release Date: 2009


The other day I received an interesting demo disc from a fellow by the name of Cary Clouser. It turns out that Cary’s been kicking around in a few bands over the years but his current gig is with a band called Oracle, a kind-of Jethro Tull tribute band, or at least a band dedicated to putting the flute back in a place of prominence. Clouser’s solo demo calls upon not only his Oracle band mates but also Brett Kull, Damon Shulman and Dylan Howe. First off you should know that this disc, entitled Finger Paintings does not in any way sound like Tull. Rather it is Clouser’s goal to create modern music that displays the ‘grace and elegance’ of 70’s progressive rock and in that he does quite well.


There are nine tracks on Finger Paintings, starting off with a short classically inspired symphonic keyboard piece entitled “Into Thy Hands” [1:12]. Next up is a bit of an up-tempo piece entitled “Don’t Know” [3:25] which features a few musical change-ups including a flute section that is as close to a Jethro Tull feel as you will find here, although Clouser’s vocal range is somewhat higher than Ian Anderson. The next two tracks, both longer, seven and nine minutes respectively, display a larger symphonic prog feel. The first “Ship of Pride” [7:13] displays a strong Yes influence that alternates against a number of other musical styles. Sprinkled throughout are some nice acoustic elements either on guitars or keyboards. The music changes three or four times propelling the song through each next section. Nothing here is overly complex, instead Clouser’s approach is to write straightforward songs or portions of songs and then look for ways to link the pieces together creating compositions that ebb and flow. The arrangements are nicely layered allowing for different sounds and instruments or vocals to take the spotlight. The longest track, “Precious” [9:05] starts off with vocals laid against piano and keyboard strings and continues to build over three musical movements. Each movement is distinct and features some nice musical change-ups. I’m guessing if you like the work of Camel or Guy Manning there is much here for you to appreciate.     


Finger Paintings displays some wonderful song-craft with ample symphonic prog embellishments and inspiration. Labeled as a demo this is obviously a work looking for a label and distribution. Cary Clouser knows how to craft a nice melody and seems quite skilled at producing a very satisfying prog sound. I really liked what I heard here and here’s hoping more people get a chance to Cary Clouser’s music. If this is the start I look forward to big things in the days ahead.