Discipline - Unfolded like staircase - 1997


This is the second and last (so far) album of this North American band. It was published in 1997 and as I still have not heard anything about the release of a new one, I prefer to review this indispensable "Unfolded Like Staircase", for me one of the best album of the 90s. There is an infinity of groups with influences from the big 70 bands as Genesis, Yes, King Crimson etc., with more or less success and personality, but for me it is the first time that a group drinks of the strange and difficult musical essence of Van Der Graaf. And they make it with a naturalness, quality and personality that makes this a unique piece inside its style in the last years.


Above all, this is an album with a work of exceptional composition. They are four long pieces, not at all minimalist, but with a myriad of details, constant development and coherence and balance in the whole work. The music of this album has all the elements that characterizedVan Der Graaf in the 70s. Drama, restlessness, darkness, delirium, tragedy, even schizophrenia and it shows us that beauty can be hidden in the darkest places in our mind. The influence resides in the essence of the music, as either voices or instruments have little to do with the diabolical Generator. Neither the guitar, sax or drums, nor the voice is treated similarly. Here resides part of the personality of the group that also interpret in a masterful way these incredible compositions.

The CD begins with the piece "Canto IV (Limbo)" and just from the start, we can appreciate the influences we already mentioned. Little by little we enter into a complex piece of varied textures. The melancholic and obsessive guitar intersects with the suave voice, the rhythm section is meticulous and with multiple shades, I also want to highlight the good taste in the election of the keyboards. Towards the center of the song there is a crescendo that definitively hooks you and you can no longer escape... and then it continues. With "Crutches" you enter in another restless and unforeseeable piece that keeps you alert to each note, to each change. Music of gloomy character and with constant changes in sentiment. You believe that you want the song to end, but when it does, you realize that you were wrong and you decide to continue with the self-torture. "Into the Dream", the suite (well all the pieces are suites) makes you enter in the middle of a completely progressive album where its music becomes more and more dark and disturbing. You feel alone and confused, but at no moment you will decide to turn off the stereo, as you know that what you are listening to is marvelous. The mellotron, the keyboards, the bass, the percussion, the guitar, the voice, all have come to an agreement for not betraying one another. The music is not easy but you are hypnotized by the strange beauty of the dismal. In spite of the magnificent and charismatic voice of Parmenter, this piece, if sung by P.Hammill, would arise a dimension and enormous force.

"Before the Storm" is the last sound nightmare although you feel very well as you know that it is just a dream. The rain and thunder has stopped but it is still cloudy. So follows the theme of this last piece, more melodic in the beginning and with an instrumental end of authentic progression at the highest level.

The components that modified the "Generator" are: Jon Preston Bouda-Guitars, Mathew Kennedy-bass, Paul Dzendzel-drums and Matthew Parmenter-voice, keyboards, violín, sax and bells. He is also the composer of the whole material of the album. Which strange light illuminated you?

In the credits of the album they give thanks to Jan Erik Liljeström of Anekdoten for having introduced Parmenter in the sound world of P.Hammill and VDGG. In truth it was a success and I also thank him. Thank you Jan Erik.


"Unfolded Like Staircase" is a magnificent album of progressive rock, a sound canvas with cold colors: dark, gray, brown of thick line but not aggressively so, that give form to a tortuous and beautiful work. It is not an album that contributes a new sound, but it is a great work of an unprecedented quality in this branch of progressive. This album has very little to do with their first work "Push & Profit", which makes the path Discipline has chosen for the future quite unforeseeable, although I am anxious to discover it.

author - date - rating - label

Juli Fernández - October 2000 -   - Strung Out 1997 / Periferic Records 2000