Amidst impersonators and aspirants, Thinking Plague have probably remained the lone band not offending the essence of genuine “progressive” (ah, these detested labels). Their communications are still keeping the aging ears of this tired man intrigued; that alone means a lot. The elapsing of time causes no trouble to an instrumental entity capable of synthesizing numerous elements from the glorious past in a functional present-day mode. Technical deftness, social sentience and a never ending willingness to find new shades of truth are exquisitely mingled in what I like to call “harmonized distress”.
Elaine di Falco’s voice might appear even too gentle for the task of narrating about humanity’s gradual tumbling towards the claws of desolation. However, one immediately realizes that neither the subjects nor the earnest complexity of the scores are an issue for her methods. A congenital necessity exists in this music to arrive at a clear-cut resolution through interlaced melodies, problematic intervals and unpredictable itineraries. As a matter of fact, that resolution is consistently reached. Complications become lucid statements; doubts are turned into affirmations of a strong consciousness. The whole is sustained by challenging rhythmic configurations that would have made Igor Stravinsky envious.
An exemplary attribute of Thinking Plague is the covering of individual skills under the blanket of collective orchestration. The receptive observer will soon realize how a single unobtrusive chord actually dictates the subsequent movements of a given section, or how the contrapuntal physiognomy of the reeds maintains a deadpan expression while suggesting crucial shifts. It’s this sort of detail that defines a group’s greatness. All the influences we can muster – perhaps with the help of our own reminiscent soul – are competently amalgamated across six tracks that work both singularly and as an entirety, exactly as it used to happen in the beloved concept albums of our youth. Those echoes are multiplied and diversified; what was the source of juvenile dreams is now the rational explication of our loss of motivation in today’s inhospitable landscape. It’s good to listen to brilliant musicians providing serviceable alternatives to the mere sweetening of the pill before the ultimate catastrophe.