Lucas Lee – Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations (2017)

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Lucas Lee continues to forge ahead with his own unique blend of intelligent yet accessible music.

His upcoming fourth release Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations finds the Canadian-born instrumentalist and progressive rock master picking up where he left off with Business Brunch Specials: Uranium Omelet (with GMO-Free Brown Sauce). Now based in California, Lee again demonstrates his production and engineering acumen, while highlighting his wide-ranging musical palette by handling all the instruments with the exception of drums.

On his prior records, Lee utilized prog-rock/pop masters Pat Mastelotto and Tobias Ralph. he turns to Marco Minnemann on Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations. Like his esteemed predecessors Masteleotto and Ralph, Minnemann seamlessly intertwines with Lucas Lee’s complex but still approachable songs, moving things along with intense musical intuition.

Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations traces the spread of government influence and the desire for corporations to invade the lives of citizens for their own profit. Unfortunately, the subject matter has grown in its importance over the last several years. Lee paints the narrative in an engaging and thought-provoking manner – but, notably, without words.

How can he do this with only guitar, bass, keyboards and violin, you ask? By using his already-proven recording and production chops. Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations finds Lee’s formidable guitar skills evident while he pushes the envelope even more with Jerry Goodman-like bursts of violin. Even his musical interludes pack a wallop.

The opening track “Into: Dawn of the Black Sun” would not seem out of place in a Star Trek: Discovery episode. The song’s foreboding violin and tom-tom work from Minnemann hint of the dark passage to come. “Prelude: The Oregon Trail Crow Invasion Incident” picks up the pace with a piano, drum and synthesizer assault that then leads into “Two Eyes for an Eye: Dr. Kunto’s Demise.” This track recalls double trio-era King Crimson, as Lee’s measured bass playing ties to Marco Minnemann’s drums like a disciplined dog walker and an excited hound. As always, Lee’s guitar is purposeful and tasty.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Prog rocker Lucas Lee joins Preston Frazier to discuss his album ‘Normalcy Bias,’ his musical beginnings and the albums that have inspired him most.]

Like all of Lee’s albums, nothing is left to chance, yet there is a level of passion which is so invigorating that it’s easy to overlook that there are no vocals.

“Zjeto’s Ascension” shift gears with a purpose. Imagine Toto’s David Paich coming up with a prog piano riff before touches of disconnected vocals soundscapes and deft snare and cymbal work come to the forefront. The song seems to speed along as the piano, guitar and synthesizer take the listener to a higher plane. “Millennial Awakening. Maybe” fights with a complex time signature, e-bow-like lead guitar and a wash of synthesizers. Angry yet determined, the song surges ahead in fits and starts – and it’s perhaps fitting, given the subject matter.

“Above The Law, Pt. 1” relies on an acoustic piano theme which threatens the dominance of Marco Minnemann’s driving backbeat and Lucas Lee’s crunchy guitar. The song seems to take a left turn halfway, in with elegant piano passages unfolding while a dire spoken word backdrop plays on. Towards the last third of “Above The Law, Pt. 1,” the chaos becomes more pronounced and yet still captivating as Lee provides an all-too-brief, Robert Fripp-like coda. “Preach to Deaf Ears Pt. 2” is a dizzying collection of parts seemingly thrown together. The Dixie Dregs-influenced guitar-and-drum intro gives way to a drum / bass guitar breakdown which is precise, exhilarating and harmonically dense. Where the song is running to and why is unclear, yet it’s without a doubt captivating as Lee walks a musical high wire.

“Gwydion’s Escape” takes a different musical path than “Preach to Deaf Ears.” It’s dense and brooding. with tight electric guitar, electric piano and pulsating drumming by Minnemann. By the time Lee reaches “33 Thomas” and the album’s closing tracks, the listener can’t help but wonder if the end is a positive, uplifting peek at the future or a resignation to the idea that things will continue to travel around the merry-go-round of crap.

Either way, Lucas Lee has created an engaging, well-crafted and thoughtful work which leaves more questions asked than answered yet still remains a great listen.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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