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Dreadnaught - The American Standard

Dreadnaught - The American StandardI’ve just experienced a high equivalent to drinking a gallon of strong fresh coffee and sticking my finger into a live mains socket.  My heart is pounding and brain is sparking.  Dreadnaught’s invigorating The American Standard album caught me unprepared! 

Dreadnaught’s music has been coined ‘progabilly’ as it uniquely combines old school progressive rock and Americana with classical and jazz.  We are talking complex in terms of structure, style and arrangement with tempos changing when least expected.  No sooner that I thought I’d recognised a major influence in the music then it changed – number of times – within the same track!  Akin to watching a captivating horror film, you daren’t leave the room whilst it is playing for fear of missing something whilst, at the same time, trying to psyche yourself up for a sudden (un)expected change in tempo and style.  And that’s just the first aptly named track, BallbusterBallbuster starts in a heavy, complex King Crimson vein quickly merging into a fast Steve Howe/Chris Squire (YES) sounding 12-second section, back again to KC before turning into classic Zappa complete with wonderfully cynical sounding violins.  The next four tracks go under the heading Deus Ex Machina, a 20 odd minute epic showing even more diversity than the first track.  The first part of Deus Ex Machina Introduces vocals which, to my ear, remind me of Greg Lake circa Trilogy ELP era, fast yet clear.  The second part has so many styles, to describe it would require a long essay.  Third part has a recurring ‘Space 1999’  (or am I confusing it with that other early 70’s TV series?) theme plus some Wishbone Ash around rds of the way through.  The fourth part touches on Sky for a moment amongst other styles I recognise but just cannot place.  That’s just a taster – there are a further eight tracks I could attempt to describe but there isn’t the space (or time) to fit it all in.

With all these themes going on the album is surprisingly cohesive. Dreadnaught’s Richard Habib (drums), Justin S. Walton (guitar) and Robert M. Lord (bass) state that they find their inspiration in the works of Yes, Little Feat, Aaron Copland, The Band, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, Bach, Don Ellis and King Crimson among others, and it shows.  They are joined by five guest musicians who, individually, perform on certain tracks adding Violins, flute, French horn, euphonium and synthesiser.  And yes, there’s saxophone, organ and even kazoo in places!

The American Standard, released in November last year, has been granted the accolade of ‘Best Album of 2001’ by many publications and fans with some justification. Having already extensively toured the US since the album’s release, they are back on the road again from mid-March to Mid-April, unfortunately only in the US. They have a website (link below) which provides more background on the band, tour information and sample sound files for download. 

If you enjoy innovative, energetic and complex music, The American Standard is an excellent place to start.  Expect the unexpected!

Jem Jedrzejewski



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