[Review] Proud Peasant – Peasantsongs

Proud Peasant is a Symphonic Prog project originally from Austin, Texas, USA born from an idea of guitarist Xander Rapstine, leader of the group and composer. They have released 2 EPs and 2 Full-lengths, the latest of which “Peasantsongs” out on September 3, 2021 via Basement Avatar Records. The album contains 8 tracks recorded between 2013 and 2018 by the different lineups who worked on the project with various instruments offering many sound solutions. The album opens with “A Prelude” an introductory track with a dark atmosphere, built on sound intertwining between guitars and keyboards on a rhythmic session of percussion. The flute guides the melodies and introduces us to listening to the record. “Daybreak” starts off strong, with a pulled rhythm session and distorted guitars at the center of the sound. Inspired by the ’70s, in this piece the Heavy Prog sounds are very similar to them, which are mixed with more symphonic openings with good level phrasing and precise tempo changes. This is followed by “Cencibel” which has a more symphonic and delicate beginning with the addition of winds on an acoustic guitar arpeggio that also creates a dreamy atmosphere thanks to the violin. Good ideas, well developed and executed, a softer but very pleasant composition. “Turbulence” is a short concentrate of power that mixes with positive melodies, a fine combination of hard riffs, a solid rhythmic session and the symphonic part that distinguishes the band. The guitar is the protagonist of the melodies and the keyboards offer interesting ideas to each intervention. “Down at Circe’s Place” has a more elaborate structure and a granite sound, with guitar and keyboard mixes that always offer a pleasant mix of more Heavy and Symphonic Prog sounds. The bass lines are an added value, deep and penetrating and the song is more elaborate and has an effected vocal, but one of the characteristics are the constant tempo changes that bring the sound to a high level. A melancholic guitar arpeggio opens “The Avatar,” to which keyboards are soon added and then with a change make a foray into the harsher sounds. A pompous wind session is inserted and the track alternates accelerated rapids with symphonic openings, interesting these sudden tempo changes. What about “Red” which as we all know is one of the historical tracks of King Crimson, composed by Fripp and performed by the band at VoyagerFest 2015. A well executed cover, giving the characteristic imprint of their sound without upsetting the original song. The album closes with the longest running track “Saturn, Lord of the Ring / Mercury, the Winged Messenger” with over 6 minutes in duration. It begins with atmospheric and dark sounds on which a vowel is inserted close to the experimental music, while the piece acquires intensity with the passing of the minutes. For the most part we are faced with an intricate track, with a complex structure and elaborate melodies, and then finally explode in the final with the pulled rhythm and the electric guitar protagonist with the keyboards. A good listening with more incisive sections especially when the tracks come to life and all the instruments come into play, the mix between Symphonic Prog and Heavy traits is successful. There are references to the ’70s and the album as a whole is interesting, as is the addition of horns in some passages. Lovers of mainly instrumental Progressive sounds and with forays into Heavy Prog will find it enjoyable.

Tracklist

1. A Prelude (1:49)
2. Daybreak (3:26)
3. Cencibel (3:14)
4. Turbulence (1:47)
5. Down at Circe’s Place (5:12)
6. The Avatar (4:18)
7. Red (live from VoyagerFest 2015) (5:25)
8. Saturn, Lord of the Ring / Mercury, the Winged Messenger (6:45)

Lineup

Charlie Campbell / Keyboards (2,6-8)
Josh Denslow / Drums (2,7,8)
David Houghton / Classical Guitar (1,5,7,8), Electric Guitar (2,6-8)
Millicent Hughes / keyboards (1,6), violin (2,8)
Mark Poitras / Vibraphone (1,2,8), Percussion (2), MalletKAT (6), Keyboards (6)
Xander Rapstine / Acoustic Guitars (1,4), Snare Drum (1), Keyboards (1), Electric Guitar (1,2,4-8), Tenor Guitar (3), Melodica (4), Vocals (5)
Kyle Robarge / Bass (2,4,5,7,8)
Jay Allen / Keyboards (3-5)
David Hobizal / Drums (4,5)
Dave Irish / Drums (5)
Clif Warren / Bass (5)

With:
Henna Chou / Yangqin (1)
Lauren Lyman / Flute (1)
Mary “Sky” Skiles / Odaiko (1)
Josh Peters / Percussion (2)
Brian Butz / Tuba (3)
Roy Coon / Clarinet (3)
Phil Davidson / Violin (3)
Melanie Morgan / Flute (3)
Phil Davidson / Violin (5)
Chico Jones / Percussion (5)
Chris Pickens / French Horn (5)
Tony Rogers / Cello (5)
Shauna Satrom / Trombone (5)

Proud Peasant |Official Website|Bandcamp|Facebook Page|Twitter|Instagram|Spotify|YouTube Channel|

Basement Avatar Records |Official Website|Facebook Page|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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