Band Website: www.epigenemusic.com
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 2010
What are the merits of living in the city versus the country? Having moved recently it was a question I asked myself. Here on A Wall Street Odyssey is a full 2-disc concept recording that asks the very same question. Epigene was formed in 2000 in Seattle and released a couple of albums before pulling up stakes and moving to Woodstock NJ. This is the third release and to top it off it’s labeled a “rock-opera.” The band is made up of multi-instrumentalist, writer and producer Sean Bigler, Bonnie Lykes (vocals, vocoder, keyboards), Jeff Gretz (drums) as well as Chris Coletti (trumpet), David Nelson (trombone), Jeff Nichols (sax), Heather Partis (vocoder) and Armand Partis (spoken word). It’s not as big a cast as you might expect for such an all-encompassing project. Essentially 25 tunes that run the musical gamut.
A Wall Street Odyssey is more than anything an Art Rock piece in that it manages to maintain a somewhat upbeat poppy tone throughout even in musical pieces with a darker mood. The songs all hover around the 3, 4, or 5-minute range and the material is very song-based. But what the package lacks in outright proggy vibe is more than made up for in the epic sweep of the tale and the myriad of musical styles incorporated. Bigler’s ability to write a catchy tune is surely on display here as there are many wonderful melodies and more than a few of them developed from quirky musical approaches. There are two bands that kept coming to mind as I listened to these 25 tracks (there were others but these two kept coming to mind more often), and they were 10cc and XTC. Take a song like “Money Master” [4:08] with a strong 10cc vibe, Bigler’s vocals fall in the same range as Eric Stewart responsible for that band’s pop hits. Then you have a tracks like “Rabbit Hole” 3:48] and “I Eat the Concrete” [5:57] with their wonky minor key melodies so prevalent in the music of XTC. There are also times here and there, where you may hear a slight Frank Zappa influence as well. It all goes to making A Wall Street Odyssey quite an engaging listen. Perhaps the other thing I noticed is Bigler’s ability to cleverly craft music that manages to project the lyrical intent of the song. It’s weird, but without going overboard the music really sounds like the story being told.
From a packaging standpoint this 2-disc set comes in a hard-back booklet with a 56-page “graphic novel” sandwiched in between. It’s quite the thing. Lot’s occupy your time while listening to the different musical styles on the discs. Fans of the bands mentioned and Art Rock music in general will find much to appreciate withEpigene.