Creatures is the second album of the American band Frogg Café. In the year 2001 they released their selftitled debut album. For me this album is my introduction to this band. The band surprised me with Creatures, an album with highly original and progressive music. I count them as one of my musical discoveries of last year. So the purpose of this review is to inform you about them and bring this band to a bigger audience. I think they deserve this and again I’m wondering why this band is not discovered by one of the proglabels.
Nick Lieto – lead and background vocals, keyboards, mellotron, Hammond organ, grand piano, trumpet, percussion; Frank Camiola – electric guitar, 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, classical guitar, tenor banjo, string bass, additional keyboards, percussion; Bill Ayasse – electric violin, acoustic violin and viola, mandolin, octave mandolin, background vocals, percussion; Andrew Sussman – electric bass; James Guarnieri – drums, percussion.
Sharon Ayasse – flute; Steve Campanella – marimba; Christopher Tunney – clarinet; Dee Harris – sarod; Tim Roache – Toro electric weedwacker flagged upon a celestial metal can, various blocks of woods, voices; Marjorie Ayasse – background vocals, voices; Dr.Mac and Brother Barn – voices.
This year the band will release their third album. But progVisions will first give “Creatures” the attention it deserves. If you have noticed all the different instruments which are used for this album, you can imagine the band has a very big musical pallet. The music is classical, jazzy and symphonic at the same time. To give you some references I will sum up the bands I was thinking of while listening to this wonderful album. These are all bands who where/are very important for the development of progressive rock music … Isildurs Bane, Gentle Giant, Happy the Man, National Health, Genesis, UK, Frank Zappa … but also Italian progbands and modern classical composers.
“All this time” (8:02) is (together with “Waterfall carnival”) one of the most symphonic pieces with dark and mysterious symphonic keyboards, a humming bass and melodic guitars and vocals. The titletrack “Creatures” (7:41) has more a jazz-rock atmosphere and reminds me of bands like National Health, Happy the Man and Gentle Giant (the marimba). The vocals are sung in way like Adrian Belew does. The third track “The celestial metal can” (8:19) is experimental and influenced by modern classics. It is a homage to composer Charles Ives. There is a lot of percussion and a freaky clarinet in the first part. The closing classical part melts seamless into “Gagutz” (7:55) which has some Isildurs Bane influences. After the Isildurs Bane part an electric violin solo follows. The kind Eddie Jobson used to play when he was in the band UK. Next are a guitar solo and a jazzy trumpet solo before the classical and Isildurs Bane influences are returning. What a variation in a single adventurous track. The last track is the longest of the album and is called “Waterfall carnival” (21:15). The first part sounds like delicate Italian prog to me because of the violin, mandolin, acoustic guitars and Mellotron. It even reminds me sometimes of the old Genesis and the Japanese band Outer Limits. But the violin of Bill Ayasse also reminds me sometimes of Jean Luc Ponty. And we are only halfway with “Waterfall carnival”. Next is a part with delicate and melodic flute parts and Hammond organ. You think that you are listening to an Italian prog band. What a diversity again in this composition. It’s an enthralling musical trip.
Frogg Café made with “Creatures” an album for the adventurous progfan. The album fascinates till the last second. Innovative and contemporary progmusic with some influences from the seventies. Personally I will treasure this album. I’m very curious how this talented band will develop and can’t wait to hear their new album.
(You can find more information on the bands webpage http://www.froggcafe.com )