Proto is a Brooklyn, New York-based instrumental duo. Aaron Bridges (drums) and Kenny Zammito (guitar/bass/keys) have worked as a band since 2016. This eponymous EP Proto is their debut release.
Proto tells us that they find it “much easier” to sync up, musically, as a two-piece group. That shows throughout the EP. Across the four tracks, they work in lock-step, allowing them to explore progressive and math-rock elements with some jazz bits thrown in. Proto seamlessly shifts accents and meter throughout, and varies the texture of their music to keep our ears interested.
Instrumental albums are always a challenge to describe, but I will do my best to give Proto justice and highlight some of my favorite parts. The song structure of the opening track “Cully” was very accessible with clearly defined themes and variations, nicely delineated by Bridges’ drum patterns. To conclude the track, they played the head again, a nod to a classic jazz form.
“Ditto” features tight, well-executed starts and stops on the B section, and some lovely layered keyboards. Bridges and Zammito trade solos in “Chinwag.” The electric piano parts in “Eightbit” were subtle and worked perfectly.
I particularly appreciated the fact that Proto’s tracks ran just three or four minutes. They cut the fat out of the arrangements, and avoid the self-indulgence that can mar records of this genre. Further, their choice of tonalities leans to the more-accessible modes; yes, there’s dissonance, but it serves as support for the songs, not as the central focus in its own right.
Proto has delivered a strong debut EP. Fans of progressive rock and math-rock will feel right at home, and so will genre tourists. Give Proto a try!
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