One might imagine that a band that adopted a common conjunctive adverb as its name would lack creativity; however, that is not the case. Among the many bands I have covered in this series so far, However is without question one of the more rhythmically complex. In fact, comparisons to Gentle Giant and Frank Zappa would not be uncalled for. Like Gentle Giant, However’s four members display an impressive dexterity on a variety of instruments: brothers Peter and Joe Princiotto play everything from synthesizer and autoharp (Peter) to drums and trash can lids (Joe). Bobby Read’s saxophones steal the show on most songs, but he’s also no slouch on the clarinet, xylophone, and glockenspiel (among other instruments). And Bill Kotapish, although not credited with an equally long laundry list of instruments, performs superbly on bass and lead guitar. Like Frank Zappa, these boys clearly had some fun with the lyrics which, although used sparingly (on four out of ten songs), would appeal to many a progger’s quirky side (check out “Beese” below).
Despite the tracks’ complex structure and melody, they tend to be on the shorter side: the first three pieces are under four minutes each, but are nevertheless delightful to the music lover’s ear. The fourth piece, “Louise Sitting in a Chair,” is downright lovely: Peter’s piano and Bobby’s saxophones will have you convinced that Louise ought to remain forever fixed in her position. The title track features eerie soundscapes a la Robert Fripp punctuated here and there by Bobby’s saxes, which need no rest on this album. But the highlight of the ten, as mentioned earlier, opens with spoken word: “The bumblebee makes two different musical tones as it flies.” And the band seem to take this to heart, treating our ears to quirky synth sounds that imitate the frenetic buzzing of bees before re-introducing the sax and allowing Bill to shine with some deft work on his electric guitar. A touch of Zappa appears about five minutes in with some bizarre spoken word vocals that any fan of prog will appreciate.
The vocals may not blow you away, but they are not However’s centerpiece. What this band offers is a fantastical journey through a land of melodic and rhythmic complexity. Sounds to hear along the way will include the standard drums, bass, guitar, and keys, but as a bonus you will also be treated to the sounds of the duck call, marimba, kalimba, and – as the album ends – the gentle lapping of waves. Bon voyage!
Stay tuned for number thirty-four!