Ah, there’s a familiar strain here. Is that the technical prog wizardry of the Tipton brothers, they of Zero Hour and Cynthesis? It certainly is. There’s no nonsense here. I don’t have to worry about lyrics complementing or contrasting with the instrumental vibe because there aren’t any.
And so, like Long Distance Calling, Bossk, Atlantis and other lyricless band, expressions is through the instrumentals alone. And what freedom this grants. Dynamic and sophisticated riffs, solid bass lines and an electro-like emotional passage emerge. It speaks without the need for words. There are trademark Zero Hour riffs and that ringing tone of course. I like the fact that there is enough time to indulge in these wonderments before another celebratory time signature kicks in to delight us. This is knocking spots off the latest Cynthesis album that I reviewed. Time to dream, time to indulge in virtuoso guitar playing. The Tiptons parade their wares. Whilst not business-like, it’s not showy either. It’s like breathing fresh air. The guitar patterns rise in their heavenly and deceptively effortless way above the heavy clouds which the drums generate. Twisting and turning progressively, “Velocity and Acceleration” is the combined title of the first four tracks.
There is a zippy little jazz-Latin rhythm to follow. I now pictured a late night club, where we are transported to an exotic fantasy world for a few minutes. “Calculating Patterns” is so apt a title, not just for this track, but for the album as a whole. These patterns which are being calculated are original and fresh. It’s all about patterns, hence the name of the band I guess, and the images which come from them. “Harmonic Oscillators” is more along the lines of a prog fantasy solo, Zero Hour style of course. Up and down the scale we go at a rapid pace. The guitar cries out. I was half expecting it to plunge into a slower, more measured section but my expectations count for nothing and we’re under fire for most of the seven minutes that it takes. The keys add a fantasy element, but I have to say that well played as this piece of prog art is, I felt that the Tipton boys could have introduced other elements and mixed it up more.
After “Velocity and Acceleration”, each piece on this album stands separate. “4 String Lullaby” is just a short display of plucking virtuosity, then in contrast with “Harmonic Oscillators”, feeling returns with the moody intro of “Autumn”. Suspense builds up, then a soft passage follows, leaving us time to reflect as the clock ticks …. It’s very powerful but too short. Power of a different kind develops as the title track starts. The drum pattern emits exotic aromas, as the guitars take up the voice of heightened anguish and tension. Again, it’s a cameo. The patient “Tipton signature rhythm” follows. Now the drum signals a steady and ominous pattern. Our guitarist takes us to wonderland once more. A jazz-like interlude introduces uncertainty and melancholy sadness, then we go back to the comforting drum and guitar. There’s a cosmic and even mystical end to “Electric Sun 2.0”. From here we go to “Quintessence”. Starting sadly, a mobile jazzy pattern emerges, reflecting hazy sunshine I its colourful splendour. This album could not end sadly however, and it doesn’t. There’s too much richness in this mix for that.
Other than the first part, this album is a series of separate pieces and could be said to have no continuity. But apart from that the content cannot be faulted. With such sensitivity, colour and ethereally rhythmic prog guitar patterns, who needs lyrics? “Manipulation under Anesthesia” is a great album. More, please.
(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)