THINKING PLAGUE – Decline And Fall

Cuneiform

The precarious future of our planet is the underlying motif of Decline And Fall, the latest outing by Thinking Plague, impeccably described by the press release as an ensemble with a “fluid lineup”. For this occasion the scores were solely penned by guitarist Mike Johnson, the lone member who has played on every album. The six tracks also feature edgy performances by Dave Willey (bass), Kimara Sajn (drums, keyboards), Mark Harris (sax, clarinet) and Elaine Di Falco (all voices). The latter symbolizes perhaps the most conspicuous variation met by the ears as soon as the record starts. With deadpan accent, Di Falco enunciates all sorts of deplorable actions and ensuing consequences throughout a perpetually driving web of problematic arpeggios, systematic changes of tempo and discordantly pervasive harmonies. After a couple of listens we tend to regard her as another instrument rather than sticking a “singer” label. The lack of genuinely startling surprises (in comparison with TP’s previous records) is somehow expected, yet does not prevent us loyal devotees from wholly relishing this ingeniously contrived recipe of post-RIO complex emergency. Those whose ability of mentally processing a band’s dynamic interaction doesn’t go beyond the dragging 7/4 in Pink Floyd’s “Money” could argue that this music is appreciable by trained musicians exclusively. This must be considered a compliment: winking to the general public is not mandatory, and artistic coherence maintained across several decades of uncontaminated prowess is something that not many bands can brag about. This immersion in rhythmical ramification and discordant contrapuntal confidence strengthens the will of forgetting the easy-way-out-ness too often emerging from certain façade-only collectives who just seam a hundred of askew patterns without thinking (pun intended).

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