Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Titan—A Raining Sun of Light and Love For You and You and You (TeePee)
Titan play progressive rock stripped of all niceties and prissiness. While bands like Spock’s Beard and The Flower Kings have done their bit to keep the genre alive, their mega-polished albums and tidy chops obscure the fact that progressive rock was once underground music made on a shoestring by starving, spotty-faced lads. Where’s the scuzz? Where’s the musty cottage intrigue? Where's that creaky, overdriven sound that John Anthony got for Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator during their peak years? Titan have hitched themselves to that spirit and are plowing a wide, fetid swath across the prog landscape with it. The album opens with a short acoustic passage and a verse of warbling vocals before accelerating full-throttle into the song proper (titled "Annals of the Former World"), sounding like Black Sabbath jamming on the heaviest parts of “The Knife” or “The Musical Box.” Charge! The pace picks up and the sound's not a million miles away from the swirling, sustained freakouts that Comets On Fire reveled in on Blue Cathedral. The approach isn't overly mathy, but the band does execute some tricky runs and changeups. The second track recalls ELP at their nastiest (I'm thinking Trilogy-nasty, not Love Beach-nasty) along with the gnarly approach of Tony Williams Lifetime. The digipak sticker also references Mahavishnu, which I didn't hear initially, but it's present on this track for sure. Guitarist Josh Anzano excels with his noisemaking, but really the whole band is almost constantly going for it. They can play, no question. Dan Bates' bass tone alone is a frightening thing, and when combined with Kris D'Agostino's haunted, overdriven organ and Dave Liebowitz's drums, the chaos is beautiful to witness. There's no letup until the second track's spacey, ominous denouement. Track three begins with feedback and what sounds like throat-singing or didgeridoo before rocking out on a Hawkwind kind of feel under a blanket of phase shift. A quick gear change into a frantic 3/4 bulldoze and we're in danger of being ground up beneath the treads. Thankfully that lets up and we can remember how to breathe during the ensuing synth interlude and the segue into the final track, an insistent Can groove against a pulsing synth drone. Titan are a refreshingly rowdy take on '70s prog and its various offshoots—space rock, Kraut rock, and so on. You could probably throw in the entire Vertigo Records catalogue while you're at it. Like Zombi and Guapo, their enthusiasm for the more obscure tangents of the genre, coupled with pure instrumental bluster, has produced an album that pays homage to the past yet sounds cutting edge in this self-conscious and hidebound world.