The Aaron Clift Experiment, The Age of Misinformation, 2023
Tracks: The Age of Misinformation (4:57), L.I.A.R. (5:14), Bet on Zero (10:43), Dark Secrets (3:35), Rise (5:55), The Color of Flight (5:45), Málaga (4:49), Weight of the World (5:47)
Players: Aaron Clift (vocals and keyboards), Anthony Basini (guitar), Clif Warren (bass), Pablo Ranlett-López (drums and percussion)
The Aaron Clift Experiment has gradually built themselves a solid following and growing respect in the prog world since their debut in 2012. The Austin-Texas proggers now have four studio albums and two live EPs under their belt.
On The Age of Misinformation, there are some glimpses of Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree, 80s Rush, and Southern Empire. There are a variety of styles on the album, from heavy protest rock (“The Age of Misinformation”) to jazz fusion-ey rock (“Bet on Zero”).
The political nature of the opening track is a little in your face, which jarred me a bit at first, but the album pretty quickly settles down, and the melodies and musicianship promptly overrode my initial misgivings. It also helped to realize this record is more of a response to the overall experience of the last few years, rather than a political screed. I guess I’ve been so shaken by the same sorts of things the band is singing about that I’ve come to be repelled by any mention of it! Ha. But in the end, music is probably the best way to deal with these sorts of emotions. And what better way to do it than with a blend of hard rock, jazz, drum solos, and big band horns?
Oh yeah, did I mention there’s a drum solo on “Bet on Zero”? I can’t remember the last time I heard an extended drum solo on a new studio album. Great to hear. It reminded me a bit of Jethro Tull. In fact, musically the band reminds me a lot of Tull. Not because they necessarily sound just like Tull, but because they have that same approach of “we’ll try anything” to making music. There are lots of sounds used to wonderful effect. And lyrically they aren’t afraid to tackle difficult subjects, a fear Ian Anderson also has never had.
“The Color of Flight” is a quieter track with dense layering. Simple percussion, layered keyboards, violin. It’s a nice break from the heavier rock found on much of the rest of the album. “Málaga” has a strong Porcupine Tree influence, with a steady beat and keyboard atmospherics.
The variety on the record keeps this one interesting throughout. The album is under 50 minutes, but the different sounds and styles takes the listener on an exciting journey. The production value is high on the album, along with a very clear mix. The melodies and vocal lines are backed by intelligently placed guitar lines and backing instrumentation like the horns and violins. The result is very polished, making The Age of Misinformation certainly worth checking out.