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Lucas Lee

Normalcy Bias

Review by G. W. Hill

This is an amazing set. It covers a lot of musical territory. When you consider that all the instruments except the drums are handled by Lucas Lee, this is really impressive. He recruited Pat Mastelotto on drums. The music here is essentially instrumental, but there are some spoken things. It runs the gamut from heavy, Crimson like jamming, to more fusion like music and encompasses a lot of things in between. This is a great set that should please fans of adventurous instrumental progressive rock.

Track by Track Review
Justice Injustice

Sound effects like an incessant sonar ping open this. Then piano rises up in dramatic fashion. It’s quite classical. Some drumming adds to the concept. That holds it for the first minute and half plus. Then we get some serious crunch as it works out into King Crimson meets Tool and fusion-like territory. Around the four minute mark this shifts to a melodic movement with some news bits over the top. The heaviness returns after a time.

Normalcy Bias
Coming in crunchy, there is a real souring fusion kind of vibe to this early. Piano driving over the top later adds a different flavor, but this has almost a jam band meets fusion in a King Crimson recording session kind of feeling to it a lot of the time. Various shifts and changes emerge as this continues.
Unfazed
Percussion starts this. As the other instruments join, there is almost an early Pink Floyd element to it. That sound is tempered with some jazz and more pure space rock as it continues. Around the two and a half minute mark it threatens to turn heavy. Then some crunchy melodic elements with Eastern tones emerge. It resolves to some hard rocking jamming from there that again makes me think of Pink Floyd a bit. It drops back to the mellower stuff after that short section, though.
Drones
Space music and fusion merge on the early moments here. There is a freeform kind of element to it. After a near stop the bass comes in and guides it into a killer prog turned psychedelic jam. Heavier Crimson like bits skate across the top as it continues. The guitar soloing leads it through a more mainstream rock movement before it shifts again into the more space meets hard fusion section. Then we’re taken into some serious modern King Crimson turned psychedelic sounds. Around the three minute mark it drops way down. It gradually comes back up before powering out into a reprise of the previous type of sound. The shifts and changes continue from there. Different textures and modes take over as this works forward. Before the seven minute mark it has gradually transformed into a full on fusion jam. It drops way down to a mellow, but still pretty weird, fusion jam to end.
Nightfall and Mourning
Sound effects with an ominous tone open this. Then acoustic guitar enters, weaving a beautiful melody. Before the minute and a half mark it powers up into some dramatic and powerful prog that has elements of fusion and King Crimson. There are some more melodic moments that are still heavy as this carries forward. After the two and a half minute mark it drops way down as the acoustic guitar returns. As it works forward from there psychedelia merges with King Crimson. That mellower section takes it to the close.
Irreversible Logic
Keyboards open this. After a short time unaccompanied the piece works through a number of changes, starting with more rocking but melodic progressive rock before turning to some serious crunch prog. There is a movement later into more melodic music. Then after the minute and a half mark it shifts to something that has a real Beatles vibe. A rubbery, almost funky bass line with Crimson-like jamming over the top takes it from there. A staccato jam later has an almost metal element to it. Yet, it almost makes me think of King Crimson doing Holst’s “Mars.” It gets weirder at times. Then, after the four minute mark, it drops to mellower, but quite dark and ominous sounds to move forward. Before six minutes of the song have passed it drops to just piano to carry forward. That mode eventually takes it to the end.
Institutionalized
Droning sound like an alarm buzzer opens this. That serves as the first music as it comes in as a droning. Then mellow, but ominous music enters with a spoken voice over the top. Piano drives it from there before guitar solos over the top. The piece works forward like that with melody over the top of powerful progressive rock as the concept. It works through organically like that for the first three and a half or so minutes. Then a new, more insistent rocking jam (a bit like Rush meets King Crimson) takes it. From there we get a melodic rock turned heavy jam. It drops way down for some weird fusion-like guitar dominated sounds. Then a melodic prog jam ensues. Around the six minute mark there’s a bit of unaccompanied piano soloing. A burst of heavy punctuates that. Then the piano takes over again. From there, this works out into more purely melodic slow moving progressive rock movement. Piano takes over again after a while. Then the cut grows out into more of a jazz jam. Rushish elements emerge after a while, though. It eventually works out to more mainstream progressive rock from there. As it works to a crescendo Rush is again a valid reference, but this time A Farewell to Kings era. It drops to near silence and some odd keyboard bits along with some percussion dance around the backdrop. That takes the piece (and the album( to its close.
 
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