Band: Presto Ballet
Band Website: www.prestoballet.com
Label: ProgRock Records
Label Website: www.progrockrecords.com
Release Date: 2012
Four years on from my introduction to Presto Ballet they have delivered their fourth studio recording entitled Relic of the Modern World. Created by former Metal Church guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof (guitars, keyboards), Presto Ballet has seen more than its fair share of personnel changes and this time the rest of the band consists of Chuck Campbell (vocals), Kerry Shacklett (keyboards, backing vocals), Bobby Ferkovich (bass, backing vocals) and Chris G (drums). Even with all the changes the band manages to retain a distinct sound and style that takes the best of the seventies pomp-rock style and ‘progs’ it up a notch or two with lots of extended instrumental passages.
Relic of the Modern World is a quick forty-two minutes consisting of five, mostly longish compositions. We start with “The Chemical Age” [6:35]; a softly strummed acoustic guitar leads into first an electric guitar line after about :40-seconds and then a synth run after about :50-seconds, which then explodes into a sequence of grand musical climaxes after a minute, after which we get going into the song proper. Stylistically Presto Ballet inhabits the world of music made popular by bands such as Styx, Magnum and perhaps a little Kansas. These are wonderfully melodic tunes composed and arranged with a high degree of sophistication and cleverness. The music is first and foremost tuneful, major-chord, chock-full of melodies and hummable parts but then they apply layers and layers of musical performance. Songs will start and stop, change musical direction, explode and diminish in volume all the while shifting gears rhythmically. While Vanderhoof’s guitar work is all over these pieces, he’s made sure the keyboards play more than just a supporting role as they are integrated thoroughly throughout these compositions, many times incorporating some great vintage sounds. The disc’s epic is the title track “Relic of the Modern Age” [19:12], which is proceeded by the short piano solo “Prelude to Farewell” [1:36]. As epics go, this is a good one, made up of multiple parts each weaving their way to the stories uplifting major chord conclusion.
I had the opportunity to see Presto Ballet live at Calprog a few years back and have to say I really enjoy the music these guys create. It may not be the most challenging or complex prog on the planet but it has plenty of hooks and more than enough musical change-ups to satisfy my listening pallet. Relic of the Modern World is a great addition to their musical catalog and my collection. Totally enjoyable!