Review by Paul Broome
While the likes of Steven Wilson have been working hard to promote Progressive Rock as an introspective and acceptable force for good in the 21st century, there are some out there who don’t seem to have received that communique. Farmers Market are one such collective – a rag taggle bunch of highly impressive musos from Norway who have been writing and performing together since 1991, fusing together a twisted concoction of jazz, rock, funk, classical and Bulgarian freak folk.
The music on this their fifth album, Slav to the Rhythm, somehow manages to be both mind-blowing and comforting. While the solos may be astounding (see above) they are also inclusive – there’s no noodlewankery going on here, every bit of noodle is entirely justified and served with a tasty hot sauce of vocal beds and ever-circling alto sax. Sure there are distinct echoes of the Prog of the Past – the title track clearly evoking the spirit of Focus – but the attention to detail and sheer commitment of the musicians carries the listener along on a wave of time and genre changes that refuse to allow disinterest to set in.
I like to think that I can spot self-indulgence at 200 yards, blindfolded – as far as Prog goes I’ve always been more of a King Crimson guy than an ELP one – and I don’t get any onanistic whiffs at all from this album. The overwhelming feeling is one of fun – the musicians having fun playing with and off each other is plain to hear. But don’t mistake a sense of fun and humour for comedy, this is a seriously impressive and painstakingly constructed album.
Prog Rock doesn’t really need to be dressed in a coat of gadgetry and introspection to make it acceptable. Indeed it is Prog Rock’s lack of willingness to be acceptable that could well be its greatest weapon. This album proves all of that. Just hit play, set phasers to wibble, cut free the shackles of acceptability and enjoy yourself.
8 out of 10
- Slav to the Rhythm
- You’re the Prototypical
- Dusty Traditions
- Shiny Happy Gizmos
- Old Stuff Still Does the Trick
- It’s Not Always True
- Machines Rule
- And Thus
- Man Is Ancient History