Band: Johnny Unicorn
Band Website: www.johnnyunicorn.com
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 2013
You would think in the world of Progressive Rock music I’d be used to hearing new stuff and yet every once in while I get surprised at the level of creativity that exists out there. The email from Johnny Unicorn explained he’d created what he felt was the world’s first Progressive Rock exercise album. Well knowing that seemed to being against type I had to hear it. In case you don’t know multi-instrumentalist Johnny Unicorn is based out of Seattle and describes his music as “quirky, poppy, and simultaneously challenging and intelligent.” Oh, and did I mention he’s also one of the keyboard players performing with Phideaux? So as it turns out Sadness and Companionship is a fascinating disc.
Given that any exercise program needs to be of some duration, there are really only two tracks on Sadness and Companionship (along with two shorter remixes) and each of these compositions is just under 15-minutes. Now that’s a good workout! So the immediate question to be answered would be; “is there a steady beat?” and to a point the answer is yes although I have to say it does move around a bit all the while creating a very distinct proggy sound that is reminiscent of music of the eighties. Think of bands such as The Buggles et al. What really elevates the music is that the synth lead lines are very clever and every changing both in terms of tone, texture and complexity. Vocals are limited but certainly provide another element to the music. After a few listens I warmed up to the steady thump, thump thump of the synth drums; this is after-all supposed to be a workout disc. But even if you choose to just sit still and listen to it there is plenty of creativity in the synth arrangements. It did seem that the second piece, “Companionship” seemed the more complex of the two.
After a few listens I have to admit that I feel five-pounds lighter and much healthier! Clearly Johnny Unicorn is onto something. Don’t let the steady drums scare you off, there’s some excellent keyboard work on display. I’m recommending Sadness and Companionship to those in the prog community who are confident in their passion for the genre. Go on give it a try. You might be surprised.