West Coast prog artists, Fractal, grace us with the sophomore effort , Sequitur, a CD that is wide reaching in their approach to prog. This CD is certainly refreshing to listen to as the band reaches new territory it what can be a rather uninspired genre. What I like about this band is their unabashed revealing of their legacy influences (King Crimson, The Beatles, Rush, Pink Floyd) yet coming off as a vehicle to inform their compositions and overall tone. In essence, taking their prog heroes and making it their own.
The title track, "Ellipsis" explodes with fantastic "Frippery" lattice of guitarwork. Josh Friedman takes the time to make each of his guitar pieces distinct in the piece. Although a "shoegazer" instrumental, this track moves with energy and dynamics. Speaking of dynamics, the next track "Aftermath," (their reaction to 9/11) introduces vocals to the mix. It shows off their writing prowess in the fact that they can craft complex suites and can also crank out a very accessible effort. Beautiful arpeggios are augmented by airy and light vocals that are dashed on the rocks with crunchy guitar punctuations. "Giving Tree" is a gorgeous ballad with splashes of instrumental prog to keep it moving. The use of space and atmosphere are done well here. My favorite tune is "Fraction of One" as it is reminiscent of old Radiohead. Driving and pulsating rhythms and instrumentation back a very interesting vocal line that breaks into digital distortions atonal harmonies. Another stand out is the quick "Coda: Pentacle", a great instrumental work with harpsichord at its foundation. The "Churn" epic is a wonderful attempt at putting together several pieces that have a cohesive theme tying them together. Majestic guitars, colorful synth pads and mad rhythms make up part I, and part II introduces a funky groove overlaid with sound bits scattered throughout. Part II culminates into an apex of discord with a Pink Floyd finish that meanders into part III, a sparse and eloquent finale.
Fractal has certainly earned their place in the prog genre as master of being able to carve their own niche with creativity and independence. Look for Fractal to rise quickly in this scene as they apply both intellect and emotion into one great output.
Jon Rice, Sea of Tranquility
Rating: 4 stars out of 5