Generally empires are have this fate of decline and fall and I honestly believe that the Music Industry it’s an empire – and for sure it’s in deep and profound crises.
When music is only a product, sometimes quite secondary one of an industry self-titled “music” industry and all those products are pretty boring, predictable and tasteless, but similar pieces, bands like Thinking Plague are quite rare birds in the gray panorama.
Inspired by avant-art rock bands like Arts Bears and Henry Cow, as well as by contemporary classical composers, Thinking Plague has earned an avid international following by forging a singular synthesis of prog-rock with 20th century classical, folk, and jazz.
Founded in 1982 in Denver by Mike Johnson and bass guitarist/drummer Bob Drake, Thinking Plague built its following the old-fashioned way, though word of mouth and recordings passed around by fellow musicians and fans. The band’s line-up was enforced by classically trained vocalist Sharon Bradford, keyboardist Harry Fleishman and drummer Rick Arsenault. Released their debut album, “….A Thinking Plague” in 1984 on their own Endemic label, and pressing only 500 copies of the LP, the band received national attention.
Subsequent albums found TP adding brass and reeds, experimenting with percussion, and joining forces with legendary Henry Cow guitarist Fred Frith on “In This Life”, which was released by ex-Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler’s Recommended Records in 1989. It would be a decade before the band released its fourth album, but when Johnson relaunched TP with 1998’s “In Extremis” the
group found the international audience that had long eluded it. “In Extremis” also marked the start of TP’s relationship with Cuneiform, which continues now with “Decline and Fall.”
“The end is near and it’s never sounded so good. With the release of “Decline and Fall” Thinking Plague captures the tenor of the times with a caustic look at our troubled state of affairs in the 21st century. Where the band’s last studio release, 2003’s acclaimed A History of Madness (Cuneiform), delved into the Albiginsian Crusades that ravaged 13th century France, Decline and Fall dissects contemporary woes, delivering a bracing jolt of apocalyptic imagery set to intricately driving rhythms and incantatory melodies.” (from the official press release from Cuneiform)
1. Malthusian Dances (6:39)
2. I Cannot Fly (8:34)
3. Sleeper Cell Anthem (6:10)
4. A Virtuous Man (11:45)
5. The Gyre (4:42)
6. Climbing the Mountain (8:38)
Featuring six songs written and composed by guitarist Mike Johnson, the sole founding member who’s played on every TP release, “Decline and Fall”, it’s the long awaited sixth album from the band.
The most conspicuous addition to the TP universe is dexterous vocalist Elaine Di Falco, who handles the band’s steeplechase arrangements with aplomb. Singing with enviable poise and control, she
combines cool detachment with righteous anger on elaborate melodic passages that would confound a lesser artist.
Thinking Plague is always an event and experience. Avant-prog rock, Jazz, Folk, classic music elements, genius and madness melting together in a tumultuous, but natural and groovy flow to bring the audience beyond the borders of the musical map.
“The manner in which Thinking Plague…have condensed only the most fertile (and often the most pulverizing) aspect of the last 30 years of progressive exploration into an nth-degree endgame is nothing short of awe-inspiring.” – Alternative Press
“…there’s little doubt that Thinking Plague are one of the most inventive, original musical ensembles working today. …” – Muze
“Thinking Plague lays down some of the most rhythmically complex, texturally inventive, and melodically challenging popular music of the last 30 years, and somehow makes it all sound easy and natural.” – All Music Guide
“Thinking Plague… create a mad sort of progressive rock that some might call RIO…The sum total is a vision of a turbulent and unsettled time and place, though intelligent and piercingly insightful. Recommended.” – Exposé