Simplicity and intrigue appear to surround the unusually named Pigeon Toe, if their track titles are anything to go by. “The Man with the Cat” is not a regular track name but it’s clear that this isn’t a regular band. Conducive to finger snapping from the off, this groove-laden and multi-layered melodic ambience is a very accessible work. Here we have a Prog band fromGermanyplaying a range of funky rhythms, creating something edgy, dynamic and exciting and supporting the claim that their music is based on contrast and virtuosity.
I could write a book about the first track “The First Perception” alone. An entrancing and deeply acoustic Latin-style rhythm with an equally beguiling undercurrent is the aperitif for a sultry song. It’s mellow but has a real buzz and is highly sophisticated. Here as throughout the album it creeps up on you and transforms into exhilarating Prog metal. Quality musicianship comes from all angles with delicious guitar work, the calming pitter-patter of the drums and those moody vocals. In fact it’s all about timing and mood. You could argue that there are elements of Opeth’s “Damnation”, Pink Floyd,Riverside, Canvas Solaris, Subsignal, Long Distance Calling and even Level 42 here in the ambiance and style, but this fluid operation is straight from the heart of a talented band. It’s simply a delight to be invited along and swept away by the emotions. “The Chase” is more typical of Prog metal. It is forceful, and has a real sharp edge and lashings of movement. It sweeps into lush passages, but underneath and around it there’s a darkness brought on by the bass, guitar and drums pounding out a deep and driving rhythm. It’s gripping, then it fades and comes back with a crunching rhythm, all accompanied by vocals of feeling and simplicity. It seems simple but the fact is that “The First Perception” is a magical exercise in subtle and exotic rhythms. Nothing is predictable. It could develop into an upbeat or downbeat style but it’s immaculate thanks to the control. Smoochy delicacy sits alongside rock potency on “Sneak”. The cymbals strike the sound of waves. Acoustic and electric guitars combine to tell a sad and complex story on the softly subtle “The Cave”. “The Man with the Cat” is a track with another mood-inspired, lavishly exotic rhythm. Initially, the feel is of a summer’s day. It’s full of intrigue and colour but then it turns bleak and melancholic. I have no idea what “The Man with the Cat” is about but it’s easy to taste its complex and subtle flavours.
Each track shares the same qualities of richness, depth and constant development but Pigeon Toe don’t waste time indulging themselves. On “A Broken Man”, they take an unusually 9½ minute long developing their patterns. Smooth and ever sophisticated, there’s a real sense of dramatic build-up. The compelling and unusual rhythm melts into a patient passage. There’s something warming about it, as if there is brightness all around. The edginess returns as if dark clouds have appeared overhead. The vocalist’s words are threatening – “cut off his head and I guess you’ll be growing strong”. What can it all mean? Yet his tone is calm and the drum continues to set a steady pace. It’s the music which increases the pulse and excitement rate, the instrumental unit speeding up after another tranquil passage. It sweeps you along. “Second Try” similarly creates shades of moods with its mellow and powerful acoustic and electric combination. Subtle guitar artistry is just one of the many admirable features and “The Crooked Path” passes seamlessly from calm ambiance to something mobile and breathless before re-shaping itself. “The Wizard Part 1” and “The Wizard Part 2” takes a different angle, developing from a scary horror theme into melancholically-inclined cerebral Prog. To finish, “The Flashback” is a piece of Rock n Roll in a Prog blanket. Its exciting development is reminiscent of Opeth. There’s such fluidity, subtlety of sound, and for the umpteenth time I will use this word, sophistication.
I’d never heard of Pigeon Toe before. They may have been around for only four years, but it is evident that these musicians are craftsmen. The technical quality, level of drama and the maturity of the output are simply amazing. They spoke to me with “The First Perception”. This album is a magical example of creative Progressive music.
(8.5 / 10 Andrew Doherty)