Artist Stuart Mann (bass & electronics) recently formed a project entitled Highgarden. He combined forces with Henry Phillips (electric & acoustic guitar) and Max Tulysewski (drums & percussion) to bring you Autumn, which is the first installment in Highgarden's 'Four Seasons' EPs. The music is instrumental, technically proficient math rock that fans of bands like Yes and Rush will appreciate. At its core they intertwine cascading scales of notes that could never end. The songs aren't something you can sing along to (that’s obvious since there are no lyrics) nor will the melodies get stuck in your head. At their best the music comes at you as a hypnotic bombardment of notes that you can get lost in.
Autumn has some definite high points and some others that don’t quite hit the mark. The good news is that their successes outweigh their shortcomings. Autumn goes by quick and feels like a bit of a tease at points. Some of the songs felt like they could turn into twenty-minute impromptu jam sessions that could have gone on radical deviations. However Autumn never goes there but maybe we can get there when Spring rolls along.
The first track “Autumn Opening” is indeed an opening but rather unnecessary. It’s a lone guitar coated with some chorus that showcases some decent guitar picking. I can’t say that if I listen to this album again I will be revisiting this opening track.
“The P's and Q's of Polyquadrophonics” is where things start to get interesting. The beginning of the song actually contains some of its strongest moments. The guitar work is solid but most of the attention was on the xylophone- sounding instrument. Don't neglect the fancy hi-hit work around the one-minute mark as it’s subtle yet effective. The guitar solo is good but feels rather conventional. Sounding a bit like Santana,
The highlight was “Taste the Wrath of my Fuzzy Slipper,” which contained stellar playing from everyone. The dizzying array of notes was impressive and definitely a space I hope the band explores more of. The closer “In Motionless Flight (feat. The Liam Gare Experiment) “ is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing track of the four. It combines synth parts, guitar, ukulele and more into a fluid piece of music.
This is a solid start from Highgarden. I’m looking forward to seeing how Spring plays out.
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