Welcome To The Theatre...


Angular Records, 2001


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


With the apparent resurgence of progressive rock these days, there seems to be a natural outgrowth of the genre to include elements of popular music into the rich arrangements. Attempts are made at writing shorter songs with catchy riffs and choruses. And while this is a nice change of pace, it's going to be some time before such a shift feels natural.

For Houston, Texas-based Pangaea, you can hear some of the progress in their music. And while their second full-length disc Welcome To The Theatre... showcases some of this progress, it also shows the weaknesses of both band and genre alike.

There are many moments on this disc that show the promise and potential of Pangaea. Vocalist/guitarist Darrell Masingale is at his finest on tracks like "The White Shaman," featuring a solid, Native American-influenced rhythm from drummer Andi Schenck. The whole band (including keyboardist Corey Schenck and bassist Ron Poulsen) demonstrates their talent on "Fanfare For One World," an instrumental track that tips its hat to Emerson, Lake & Palmer without ripping them off.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Pangaea's rock influences are clearly heard on tracks like "Dark Room" and "Ride It Easy", but occasionally their lyrics try to turn cerebral but end up a tad banal, such as on "The Hobo, The Dog, And The Moon" (even though the song itself is a decent number with a catchy riff). Other times, this lyrical shift works, as evidenced on their criticism of society today on "The Fall Of Rome".

The experiments in pure progressive rock are the weaker moments on Welcome To The Theatre.... The basic song on the second half of "Crimson" is a decent track, but it takes too long to develop the basic track with the prelude "Lover". And the spoken-lyric track "The Nightmare," while an interesting concept (the lyrics are a palindrome - that is, they read the same forwards or backwards), is not executed well at all. Masingale would have been better off not reciting the lyrics on this one; it tends to make the track that much weaker.

Sound-wise, Pangaea seems to rely far too much on the keyboard work of Corey Schenck. While his work is good, I wouldn't mind hearing more guitar and bass farther up in the mix to create a more pleasing blend to the ears. (Famed progressive rock producer Robert Berry might have had a hand in this as well.) The only other weakness with Welcome To The Theatre... is it's not the easiest album to get into. Overall, I think I gave this disc five listens in the two days prior to writing this review before things finally started to click for me. Admittedly, progressive rock is much more challenging for a listener, but it shouldn't be this difficult to get into an album. The first two times I tried listening to this disc, I found myself tuning out before four tracks had passed - not the most optimistic sign.

Welcome To The Theatre... does show Pangaea as a band that will be a name to watch in the coming years, but they still have some homework to catch up on. If you've got the time and energy to apply to this one, it will prove to be a somewhat worthwhile journey.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Angular Records, and is used for informational purposes only.