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Album Review

CALLE DEBAUCHE
Relentless Debauchery

Progressive? Regressive? Anatomically incorrective? Gawd knows what these guys are doing, but it fluctuates between extremes of theme and variation, varitheme and aeration, hell and damnation, and Mother Teresa and Carrie Nation. How else would you describe music from a group which early on traded bass for tuba and lines up instruments more worthy of jazz than... what? Pick a song--- hell, pick a stanza--- and be prepared to toss genre out the window as Calle Debauche breaks into the next more than likely juxtaposition in sound. If that sounds confusing, you have to hear the music. It is progressive jazz-rock, gypsy, classical, world, electronic and rock mixed with varitheme and aviation like you've seldom heard. These guys are Gryphon- and Maxophone-based international jazz with classical overtones and touches of Tex-Czech, but they rock. It is cartoon music for serious cartoons. Hell, maybe I should quit while I'm ahead, if I am.

Listening to Calle Debauche is like cramming for finals. Their music is at times so intense that you have to work at listening to make sure you don't miss anything because I swear there isn't a note there that isn't important. Probably overstated, but it makes a point. Some music is pleasant. Calle Debauche's is downright amazing.

The small number of people who remember Maxophone may know what I'm talking about. A mid-70s prog band out of Italy, their self-titled album was released in the US on the small PAUSA label and was passed over by all but the prog-faithful and has since become an album of legend. Calle Debauche, I am sure without realizing it, echoes Maxophone's melding of styles on tracks like Fire From the Sky, a quick paced and dramatic musical journey which utilizes sax, marimba and percussion and a guitar style as unique and magical as that of Maxophone's guitarist, Roberto Giuliani. It is dream prog-rock for the faithful, building to crescendo and fading into a recording black hole worthy of the cinema. I mentioned Gryphon. The break in VRF would almost be Gryphon if they had included bassoon. Panspermia is modern classical music for the Big Top with classical guitar (?) break. And Food Poisoning is as close to Americana as they will ever come, I am sure, banjo lightly plucked over sax/tuba/marimba rhythms (with an oddly oriental sounding break separating the first and last movements beautifully).

Instrumentally, these guys may be out there but it doesn't take long to adapt. Sax takes lead a large part of the time, something you don't hear much these days. Percussion and drums range from riffy jazz to march cadence and is as much a part of the sound as it is rhythm. The marimba adds an international, jazz and classical edge whenever it is needed (It is always a thrill to hear marimba played well), and the guitar is downright amazing. Keyboard and synthesizer work is topnotch and that tuba? You'd think it would get in the way, right? It doesn't take long before you forget it's there. Oh, you hear it, all right, but it becomes as much a part of the sound as does the guitar and keyboard and sax and synthesizer and ambient sounds which make this pure musical adventure.

I know that a lot of people fear prog-rock. Don't let my use of the term turn you away. At the same time, be aware that you listen at your own risk. Hey, what's the risk of sampling Calle Debauche at their MySpace site​? The only risk I can see is that you wallow in the mediocrity of your music collection without a chance of escape. Oops... Ow! Help, I've fallen and I can't reach my beer! Oh, well. At least I have my CD player on repeat.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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