Mike Prete    3-November-2001 Unikorn On The Cob

Some of the names here might seem familiar to you. Jonn Buzby, the former drummer of Finneus Gauge, and Jordan Perlson of Echolyn are joined here by members of the Virginia-based fIVE pOST fENCE. As you can expect with this background, the music is somewhat similar to that of the member's former bands; complex yet melodic with a touch of fusion and a more symphonic edge and plenty of vocal harmonies. Buzby switches over from behind the drum kit to play keyboards, and does an admirable job in this transition. Shifting time signatures and tempos abound, always keeping the flow organic. This is a tight group that melds their great playing with good song writing. Perlson's tremendous effort leaves plenty of space for the others to work with, and all the members compliment themselves nicely. There are plenty of fast and furious sections for the band to let loose in, with choppy guitars and keys and crashing cymbals.

"Musical Findings" starts out the album with a excellent introduction leading into what is a very catchy piece with plenty of infectious grooves. The whole album is filled with the band's good natured 'low-brow' sense of humor (you thought Unikorn on the Cob was a serious title?). "Upping the Ante" is filled with both punchy aggressive passages and fusion-tinged ones and a lot of nice keyboard runs. The standout track on an album with many solid pieces is the instrumental "Unikorn on the Kob". The band stretches out here and experiments with a few different styles. An atmospheric opening gives way to a dense, Crimson-like passage. Jonn Buzby really gets to show off his keyboard playing on this track.

The one drawback of the album is that there are too many vocals throughout, not leaving enough space for the players to stretch out, as evidenced in the title track. Buzby has an adequate voice, somewhat reminiscent of Neal Morse, and while it doesn't bother me, I think that this group of skilled players could benefit from scaling down on the vocals and concentrating more on instrumental work. This is an excellent debut from a promising band which comes recommended.

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