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Green Milk from the Planet Orange - City Calls Revolution

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Artist: Green Milk from the Planet Orange

Album: City Calls Revolution

Label: Beta-Iactam Ring

Review date: Jul. 12, 2005

"Progressive rock is not dead." Such is the statement that Japanese band Green Milk from the Planet Orange includes on the back cover of their second official full-length, City Calls Revolution. Maybe in the mid-'80s that edict would have met with more than a few raised eyebrows, but to anyone paying attention to the current climes of "modern rock," it falls more into the "no duh" category than anything else. Sure, prog suffered a nasty fall on the ice in the '70s and got kicked in the groin by varying groups of nascent punks, and highly cryptic songs that may or may not have been about certain Mark Twain characters fell from grace as hardcore and New Wave swept through a variety of undergrounds at the start of the Reagan years. But fear not, as jazz students, geeks, and D&D savants have always kept the flag flying high. What's been more surprising in recent times, however, is the spate of ex-indiehardcorepunks stretching out tracks, adding weirdo time signatures, and submitting to the time-honored desire for "sweet jams." Progressive rock is most assuredly not dead; rather, it has gradually shacked up with punk and metal to create a variant that's low on kitsch and high on riffage.

Green Milk, then, are most assuredly keeping with these modern times. A trio of former grindcore devotees given over to more experimental wanderings, the band coalesced in 2001 with a mind towards more psych and jazz oriented overtures. The resulting first disc for Beta-Lactam Ring Records, He's Crying "Look," was full of space (as in outer) but little stomp to accompany their burgeoning instrumentals. Their newest disc goes a ways to address that, packing loads more wallop into four lengthy pieces. Truth be told, at just a hair under 80 minutes City Calls Revolution is at times tedious and overlong. But still, it lets loose a fierce punch when it counts, bristling with an intensity that at times felt sorely lacking in their debut.

"Concrete City Breakdown" bats first here, and after lulling for a few moments with precious keyboard and bass, kicks hard with some virtuostic interplay. Dead k's vocals can be a bit of an acquired taste at times, segueing from high pitched whinny to full-throated scream with reckless abandon, but it suits the music well. In case you doubt the grind pedigree at work here, the first couple minutes of "OMGS" shows the bands' roots admirably before locking into a break-neck lurch of a groove - here the drums dance, the guitar scrapes and sputters, and the bass ties it all together.

"Demagog" hardly deviates from the first 30 minutes of the album. Here, though, the drums are infinitely more frantic as A pounds his skins with a ferocious intensity, leaving k to bark like a madman during the breaks and rip some hyper kinetic solos. The band eventually brings the album to a close with "A Day in the Planet Orange," a staggering, somewhat trying piece that encompasses about half of the album's length. The opening jars a bit, mostly because it's one of the few times during the course of the disc that the band actually calms down for more than a minute. Gradually, however, they work themselves back up through some bluesy soloing. The rhythm section is limber and loose - turning the screws when necessary, but mostly adapting to the ebb and flow of the track. It takes them a while to get to it, but when the trio finally works up to that grand crescendo in the sky it makes the occasional meandering seem completely worthwhile.

More than just helping to showcase the validity of modern-day prog, City Calls Revolution exists as a pretty blistering rock record with some nifty psych overtones as well. The trio's more punk-oriented background gives them free reign to undercut their instrumentals with a fairly contagious sense of purpose. And while the average listener is probably going to be hard pressed to make it front to end on this disc in one sitting, I'm sure that somewhere out there Rick Wakeman is eating his own heart out. Or something to that effect.

By Michael Crumsho

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