Right, let’s get the band name out of the way…there’s something quite cringeworthy about it…moving on…
Progoctopus are a new quartet from Birmingham, and Transcendence is their first venture into the world of recorded music. They have produced an infectious combination of upbeat rock moves mixed with unusual time signatures, all topped with Jane Gillard’s distinctive vocals that serve to infuse the EP with an infectious joie de vivre at odds with the heavy subject matter of her lyrics. These tell a tale through all four songs of breaking free from societal and one’s own mental shackles, finding one’s way, the eventual passing of life and ending by musing on the circular nature of existence in a manner free of pseudo-intellectual pretence.
Opening track Transcendence Pt 1, with Jane’s confident but never strident tones to the fore puts me in mind of American band Moe Tar, which in my book is praise indeed. Beneath Jane the guitar of Alistair Bell twists and turns through its chord changes, evading 4/4 by sleight of hand and a knowing wink, the rhythm section of Tim Wilson and Samuel C. Roberts keeping the thing from jumping the points.
Transcendence Pt 2 ups the heaviosity factor and includes a rollicking instrumental section of thunderous rhythmic intent that fades away too soon. The band slow things right down on the jazzy ballad Like Stone, which shows that Jane can do the heartstring-tuggers with aplomb. Her story of stoicism in the face of the imminent loss of a loved one – easily the best lyric on the EP by the way – is backed by a sinuous tune, and is the highpoint of the EP for me. Love the bass guitar sound on this one.
We conclude with the nine-minute Carousel, which takes its time to wend a way through intricate guitar knots and clattering rhythmic counterpoints, while Jane’s story finds redemption. Not as immediate as either of the parts of Transcendence, the track suffers slightly from a lack of light and shade, and is possibly a tad too long.
All in all a promising if flawed debut from a new band, and I can picture a sax or maybe a dedicated electric piano player adding more colour to the sound in future. A band to keep an eye on, for sure, and this EP is available for a “pay what you want” price at Bandcamp, so what have you got to lose?
Transcendence Pt 1 (6:34)
Transcendence Pt 2 (6:19)
Like Stone (3:56)
Total running time – 25:52
Jane Gillard – Lead Vocals
Alistair Bell – Guitar, piano and vocals
Samuel C. Roberts – Bass
Tim Wilson – Drums, pads and vocals