Xander Rapstine, winner of this week’s coolest name in music, has emerged from his former pop rock rut to find new and enriching ground with Proud Peasant, a blend of classic and progressive rock with modern splashes of power punk and ‘80s keyboard for good measure. This four-piece have a lot of chops in their repertoire and what’s more is how they integrate it all to shape such long-winded and equally interesting tracks.
All three cuts on Flight are well over ten minutes with “Awakenings” pushing the 20- minute mark. I used to play with a power trio at a deliciously dive-y pizza pub well into the early morning, most often to about two people. We explored the spacey jams and had a few live recordings meet the 17 minute mark so I know just how creatively exhausting that can be. Well done Proud Peasant, you make it look pretty easy.
The secret to creating these lengthy soundscapes is in the instrumentation firstly. Proud Peasant utilize various horns, especially on “Awakenings,” different key tones, voice timbres and harmonic structures, the layering of percussion, guitar experimentation and the list goes on. Another big component is the way they weave themes and modes. “The Prisoner” starts out a little like a moody fanfare, moves into a Pink Floyd rockscape and then diverts toward a slightly Mexican variety. All of these styles fit the theme and don’t step on each other or create uncomfortable segues. A lot of bands will try to be diverse with their structure but the effect can be like a surprise bucket of cold water. Not with Proud Peasant.
“The Precipice” is a delightfully wandering array of sound. The effects are put into full force with keyboard modulation, crunch guitar and fat drums. It’s almost like a sort of Rush-inspired acid surf rock. There’s a great tempo slide downward around the 5:30 mark that brings things to a waltz-y coast. Proud Peasant is always thinking and it makes for a multi- leveled experience. These songs could be listened to for a day straight and you’d still find new ideas that were missed on the last run.
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