The harpsichord has to be one of the least rock n’ roll instruments of all time, unless you happen to be John Paul Jones living out some medieval castle warlock fantasy. Otherwise, it's pretty much the height of stuffy, officious, polite, white society, inherently conjuring images of poofed lace sleeves and quadrilles. If you're a middle-schooler, a love of the harpsichord is the kind of thing that gets you beaten up - the exact polar opposite of rock's supposed "rebellion," inclusion, and endorphin-saturated virility.
Of course, at this stage in the game, we all know that rock stereotype is dead and moldering, rocking on in zombie half-life. Rockers will always do what they have done, as long as there are angry, disaffected youngsters with slicked back hair, leather jackets and attitude. If you think this is a rebellion, however, think again. While our parents' parents might've been going crazy over those loose-hipped, apathetic Wild Ones aimless insurrection, a bunch of stooges playing amped up power chords is not exactly a threat to the status quo.
What is revolutionary is being passionate and committed to a cause. I'd like to think that in five - ten years time, the "Oh well whatever never mind" slack ennui of grunge will have entirely dissipated. Being apathetic just means you're easily controlled and manipulated - pretty much the exact opposite of being rebellious.
Fantasy Absent Reason is the second album from Minneapolis instrumental quartet OVRFWRD, comprised of five wordless tracks that work more as movements in some epic concerto than as individual pop songs. The opening 30-seconds, in all their Brandenburg harpsichord glory, might lull you into thinking you're getting into some polite serious classical rock, which is true, but will not prepare you for the sap glove slap across the jowls when the John Carpenter adventure synths and leaded guitar barrage begin, about one minute in. If the harpsichord is the sound of the drawing room, then obviously OVRFWRD are the barbarians at the gate, here to pillage your complacent way of life, setting fire to the status quo, offering no quarter.
Music simply can't be just polite, with a fierce rhythmic section like OVRFWRD's break beat machine drummer, or as soulful and funky as the organist, doling out burning B3 grooves and psychedelic Riders On The Storm in equal measures, often in the same song. OVRFWRD claims to be like "Porcupine Tree or Yes. But without vocals," which I can vouch for as true. I'd like to add King Crimson to that list, as their guitars could, at times, be a doppelganger for the twin Thrak guitar attack of "21st Century Schizoid Man."
There's always been this push and pull between virtuosity and accessibility with rock-influenced music. Punk came about as a reaction to the elitism of prog rock, in the ‘70s, and that was understood to be a "good thing" in the ‘90s, like "Yeah, we won! We took it back from the posers!" What it also suggests, however, is rock enforcing its frankly sexist, homophobic, class war only allowing the knuckle-dragging angst of male adolescence past the gates.
And while it's important to dismantle things like prog, when they make people feel like they can't play or could never start a band, because they're too poor to afford fancy gear or be conservatory trained, THAT's when the populist aspect of rock n’ roll becomes important. When it's out of line, it shows an ugly anti-intellectual side that wants everybody to meet in the mediocre middle.
I feel like, moving forward, we are going to hear more and more music like OVRFWRD, and we need to. While "punk" and "rock" are the cartoonish semblance of a revolution, striving to better yourself and make something of longstanding, lasting value is where the REAL riot happens! While beautiful, popular people are running around trying to be popular and get laid, devoted "Nerds" are in our rooms, making great art, thinking great thoughts and, frankly, trying to do something with out life.
I'd like to think that, in 10 years time, kids would be patted on the back for digging on the harpsichord. And it will be thanks to bands like OVRFWRD, the barbarians at the gate, that prove that you can be MIGHTY and SMART, rocking the hell out the whole time, while still giving you plenty to feel and think about!
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