Sunday Sesh: Prog Your Hog with The Sea Within
Have you given your brain ample time to ease off the booze/benzos/kratom/xannies since graduation? Good, because this morning we’re getting thinky with the noodly doodly megaprog act The Sea Within. Don’t recognize the name? That’s fine. You’ll certainly remember some of the players involved, but that hardly matters when the jams flog your prog this hard. So open up your brainuses and get ready; this Sunday Sesh, it’s hog-time.
Do you miss the days when Dream Theater sang about more than just how nobody cares about music anymore? Do you pine for more Peanuts clips set to Rush‘s seminal 2112? Do you enjoy a fancy odyssey of free jazz-inflected dad rock? Then boy howdy is The Sea Within’s debut album, the aptly titled, uh, The Sea Within, going to sate your thirst for golf shorts and silly puns and a well-secured thermostat. But don’t take my word for it. Check out lead single “Ashes of Dawn” for yourself.
You hear that, my friend? That’s the kind of prog that dooms you to a life of speed-suits and academic research and being picked last for the kickball team. It’s the path less traveled, one reserved for only the mightiest of goobers, and…
I’m sorry, I’ve been drinking gin all day. Just settling into the dad lifestyle before I’m actually a dad, you know? And what better way to get into that dad life than with some most excellent dad rock?
And most excellent dad rock The Sea Within certainly is. This is a fun, heartfelt record that feels more personal, more genuine, and more creative than anything I’ve heard in the genre in quite some time. It’s loaded with dynamic moods (often shaped by the intricate interplay between the keyboards and guitars), surprisingly heavy stretches where the rhythm section really shines, and soulful crooning that wraps itself around you like a comforting embrace. And really, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Sea Within consists of prog luminaries whose decades of experience should at least ensure something entertaining, if nothing else. From the promo material:
The Sea Within – a new art-rock group formed by Roine Stolt (Transatlantic, The Flower Kings), Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, The Tangent), Tom Brislin (Renaissance, Spiraling, Yes Symphonic, Deborah Harry) & Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, UK, Joe Satriani) – have announced they will release their as-yet-untitled debut album in Spring 2018.
Aside from that who’s who list of members, there’s one other element of intrigue that stands out in that description: “art-rock.” Despite its pedigree, The Sea Within does not consider itself a supergroup, and neither should you: these songs feel fully fleshed out and carefully crafted by a group of hearts beating in unison rather than a corporate overlord attempting to stitch together stardom. And that common pulse is evident throughout; “Goodbye” and “Sea Without” both slap with funky bass licks and monstrous drum triplets that will get you nodding along in rapt attention. “An Eye for an Eye for an Eye for an Eye” and “Broken Cord” are both fun, jaunty tunes certain to bring a smile with their energetic solos and upbeat lyrics. And perhaps most importantly, none of these songs feel overstuffed. Only a single track drags beyond the 10-minute mark, and the longer songs generally feel fully realized rather than over-indulged. “The Roaring Silence” uses its 8-minute duration to take you on a wild, nuanced journey of masterful musicianship and disparate instruments all bending their wills for the expression of the track. It rules.
Ultimately, The Sea Within is a big, modern prog rock record, the likes of which you’ve heard before, but likely not in some time. The players involved are all masters, and they certainly demonstrate their prodigious abilities throughout the record. Those who dislike soaring choruses and long multi-instrumental flights of fancy will be turned off, but if you miss Porcupine Tree, crave those bright and shiny melodies from Spiritual Beggars, and believe Dream Theater mysteriously died after Systematic Chaos, this record is for you.
And since it’s a long weekend here in the states, full of grilling and gin and sitting around being a dad, I can’t think of a better soundtrack for your holiday. So get out there, dad, and prog your hog in public.