Proceed- Curious Electric
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: June 21, 2010
The internet has provided a whole host of benefits during its existence, not least of which is the many channels through which it is now possible to scour the world for hidden talent and get access to a plethora of new music. Prior to the digital revolution, I remember being introduced to bands by watching music television, but the digital age has practically rendered this medium irrelevant. Or so I thought.
My first experience of Proceed was the music video for Curious Electric’s opening single ‘Visual Field’, transmitted to me through my television via UK based music channel Lava. Having become instantly hooked on the track’s clever arrangement, staggering dynamics and outstanding vocals, I found myself rewinding the video repeatedly to digest more of this great track.
There couldn’t be a more appropriate method for me to find this band than to relive the nostalgia of when I would record the Friday Night Rock Show on VH1 and play the videos back in the morning looking for new bands to excite me, because not only must this be the first time I've found a band this way in a good ten years, but it’s also the most excited I’ve been about a new British band in an equally long a time.
Curious Electric begins with ‘Fight/Flight’, a minute long intro that gives the perfect metaphor for what is about unfold over the course of the EP’s seven tracks. Crisp, clean guitar tones accentuated by powerful and precise drumming, traversing through various time changes that eventually build up into a beautiful crescendo. From this sixty second prelude to the end of closing track ‘A Pointless Voyage’, the pace does not falter. Nor does the quality. Comparisons to Proceed’s sound are difficult to make and at the risk of ridicule I’d go as far as to say that Curious Electric feels a little Kaddisfly during its intricate moments and a little Emarosa in its up-tempo sections, cemented by the dynamics and tone of Lateralus-era Tool. The difficulty of drawing such comparisons is testament to the quality composition that Proceed have created here and directly explains the excitement that this collection of songs generates.
One of the defining strengths of the EP is the fantastic rhythm section, which bears the weight of every song on extremely strong foundations. The drummer is technically excellent and as such, the various time signatures that the band flirts with sound natural and effortless, despite being intricately worked and carefully constructed. As a result, Proceed are able to achieve that difficult, and often unsuccessful, balance of complex dynamics with accessible and fluid songs.
Vocally, the execution is perfect and vocalist Dan Lancaster, who wrote and produced the EP, has one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long time; his range is vast and the melodies are cleverly arranged to offer catchy hooks without sounding out of kilter with the dark and ambient atmospherics in the songs. Interestingly, these songs are infectious and catchy despite the majority of them not following traditional verse/chorus/repeat structures. This ability to deliver memorable songs whilst being framed in complex dynamics and time signatures is a real testament to the band’s creativity and song writing abilities.
What excites me the most about this outstanding EP is that it showcases originality, raw ability and honesty; something that is lacking in today’s internet-facilitated music scene. In the days where music television and magazines were prominent channels for new music, a band had to be special to be recognised because opportunities to impress were few. In today’s world, the internet has made it extremely easy for anyone to publish their music on a worldwide scale and as a result there has been a concentration in quality and a tendency for bands to follow trends and copy styles in order to gain their fifteen minutes of fame.
It is very refreshing to witness the emergence of band running counter to that trend and having listened to Curious Electric, I am awash with anticipation for future gig listings and above all, a full length album in 2011. This is what it feels like to be inspired again. This is what music should feel like.