For those of us who are “old-timers,” still somewhat stuck in the 1970’s, band personnel changes can be among the most significant events in music-making. Perhaps this is still true, but my sense is that it has become much more taken-for-granted as part of the “prog” landscape. I’ve been taking it slow with my forays into Spock’s beard, and singing the praises of patience, of not being hasty. I haven’t yet commented on X, though I have listened once, and the post will come.
But a quick “first impression” moment for the newest release, number eleven, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep (2013), is too hard to resist. While I will need another careful listen to decide completely exactly what I think of the addition of Ted Leonard’s vocal stylings to the mix, the impression there is by no means a seriously negative one. And more importantly, everything else seems to point to the ongoing vitality of SB’s musical ethos. That ethos pulsates here with an entrancing blend of hard-edged rocking and soundscape sculpting, with what seems just the right amount of fealty to the “tradition” (a weighty word that I hope is not too burdensome) of progressive rock. Both composition and lyric-writing come across, on my first listen, as quite consistent with the high standards set by (sorry for the persona-centric specificity of historical reference) the “NdV era” Beard.
I will listen again. But that first listen was no disappointment. If you have had that nagging, subtle fear of change, as I have in this case, and if you’ve found value in the judgements that I’ve rendered so far, then you should definitely listen. The Beard still grows. These guys still rock!