Red Sky Ruminations

Zookeeper's Palace

Independent release, 2012

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


This is an interesting piece of work. Throwing it in the neo-progressive rock canon is probably the safest choice, as Red Sky Ruminations is filled with unpredictable songwriting, three percussion players and a musical depth that requires multiple listens. One could also make a case for post-punk or neo-Goth, as lyrically and in mood this has a bit of Cure influence, but there also is a bit of alt-rock in Zack McNair's guitar playing. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And yet, no one influence stands out above another, which is unusual in a debut album. Zookeeper's Palace have created a dense piece of work, dark and moody, full of twists in the songs and solid playing that never stoops to showing off, the way some prog-rock is wont to do. Had this approach been married to a memorable set of songs, we may have had a modern classic, but unfortunately Red Sky suffers from a lack of melodies and hooks, choosing instead to work in grooves and moods.

"Nothing Left To Gain" is probably the best song here, led by Mike Bear's bass (one of the album's standouts), sparse keyboards and an unsettling mood, underscored by the lyrics that appear to be about a relationship that has lost its luster ("I can't remember how we ever got this far / Now we're sinking in, slowly descending / And I've got no one left to save me / I wonder why.") The skittish "Final Heart Attack" is another highlight, while the multi-part "Stop Signs" gives way to only vocals and drums at one point before a false ending.

Because the songs are more about texture than hooks, it takes a few listens to sink in, and the listener will find a riff here, a brief melody there, a solo elsewhere, that makes the release come together. The members of this band are talented players with something to say, which should eventually make them stand out in a crowded neo-prog rock field. However, the somewhat banal, woe-is-me lyrics and the lack of memorable songs keeps this from being anything more than a promising debut.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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