Thursday 16 June 2022

Post Generation - Control-Z (2022)

Country: Italy
Style: Progressive Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 27 May 2022
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Official Website

Control-Z or CTRL-Z is, of course, the undo button, and it's not something that Post Generation are in need of after making this music, because it's exquisite. However, it fits the concept at the heart of this concept album, which is a dystopian office that has the power to undo what it deems to be a bad feeling or bad emotion within any of its citizens, resulting in a "mass of zombified citizens". To be fair, I listened through this a few times without noticing that it was a concept album at all, with so much music to distract us from the lyrics. It's another level to appreciate, but it's not required.

Post Generation play progressive rock with a strong side of pop music, listing Porcupine Tree as an important influence, though vocalist and guitarist Matteo Bevilacqua came from heavier roots, as the bass player for Diaries of a Hero. While Bevilacqua is British and Diaries of a Hero are based in London, Post Generation are listed as being from Turin in Italy, Bevilacqua shifting across to vocals and guitar, Antonio Marincola stepping up on bass and multi-instrumentalist Carlo Peluso playing keyboards and whatever else is needed. There are two session drummers and a female vocalist on this, their second album, as well.

Initially, I found this pleasant, with fascinating details, like the shift from angry sampled voice to a delightful interplay of vocalising in the album's standout track, You're Next in Line, a section which shifts into a set of solos. It was moments like that one that made me pay deeper attention to all of the various aspects of this intricate music. What's the Worry, for instance, was initially just speech—not a sample, but a sort of carefully phrased delivery of poetry—until it switches over to singing at the halfway mark, but there's some subtle but excellent musicianship going on underneath the voice. And focusing on that ironically meant that I initially missed the concept, which is completely obvious in a song like this one, which can only exist to serve one.

In short, there's a lot going on here and that's underlined by so many of these songs sounding not at all like each other. The greatest musical shift on offer may be from frantic electric guitar-driven The Cat and the Chicken to atmospheric, jagged keyboards in White Lights and Darkest Patterns, a shift from almost hard rock to electronica. However, it's far from the only shift on this album that seems wild on paper but works well within the context of the album, which is primarily rock, but is often pop, albeit always progressive, fascinating and imaginative. This Cannot Work ramps up to a powerful finalé, then drops into the folky acoustic Raising the Bar. Nathalie kicks off with bubbling electronica but finds its way into a violin solo.

If I have a problem here, and I don't really but you might, it's that I find that I can't focus on songs for the most part, because of all these delicious moments. Once again, You're Next in Line must be the highlight, because, even though it has so many delicious moments, from the initial tinkling of piano to those later showcase shifts, it builds like a song to a neat hook of a chorus. Most songs on this album don't do that, not because they fail at the attempt but because they're not interested in that and are content to be a bigger moment in the concept album.

That means that after You're Next in Line, the next best song is Control-Z, but I don't mean track 8 but the entire fifty-seven minute album. It could be described as a collage of fascinating moments arranged in a particular order to tell a dystopian story, linked primarily by the soft voice of Matteo Bevilacqua, who occasionally passes the mike to Michaela Senetta. That's not a bad thing in itself, but it may not be what you're looking for. If you like your prog to set a single texture and run with it or if you like your prog to be commercial and hook-laden, then this is not for you. This is for fans who want many textures, not just within an album but within a song, and for those textures to stay interesting for almost an hour. Which means I need to listen to this yet again.

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