Band: Thinking Plague
CD Title: Hoping Against Hope
Label: Cuneiform Records (2017)
Rating: Satisfying 3/5
Hoping Against Hope is the latest album for the long running Avant-Prog outfit known as Thinking Plague. Founded in 1982 by guitarist/composer Mike Johnson and bassist/drummer Bob Drake this is a band that has been at the forefront of music that stretches the boundaries. Boasting exemplary performers these compositions bristle with intricate instrumental performances. Timid Prog fans be warned this is complex and adventurous music full of counterpoint and polyrhythms. There is a lot going on in these six tunes with a running time of forty-four minutes. For those out there who have yet to experience the music of Thinking Plague it is equal parts rock, jazz and modern classical. This blending of genre styles certainly gives the music its Prog cred. At times harshly angular and at other times painfully somber this is music that requires your attention. Part of the listening experience is marveling at how these seasoned musicians are able to make the many transitions from sparse chamber rock sounds to full-on aggressive rock. Often grouped together with bands such as Henry Cow and the Art Bears, the music of Thinking Plague is as Iíve mentioned in previous reviews progressive and full of arty musical flourishes that will appeal to fans of bands such as Karda Estra as well. Odd time signatures and rhythmic patterns are embellished by contrasting warm-melodies and dissonant interludes all making appearances throughout. This American band has been creating challenging progressive music for over thirty years and judging by the music on Hoping Against Hope they have a lot left to say. If Avant-Prog music is your thing, this album comes highly recommended.