US band PERFECT BEINGS was formed at the tail end of 2012, instigated by Johannes Luley (guitars) and Ryan Hurtgen (vocals). When the music and lyrics had been noted down, Dicki Fliszar (drums), Jesse Nason (keyboards) and Chris Tristram (bass) joined the band who started rehearsing the material, concluding in a three week long recording session. The end result was the album “Perfect Beings”, which was released in early 2014.
I have to admit that I’m impressed by this production, and on a number of different levels too. Here you have a progressive rock band that appears to deliberately focus on the lead vocalist for starters, that creates material that showcase the strengths of a high quality singer and choose to dampen the instrumental escapades for just about every vocal section, unless the instruments are used to create specific effects. In terms of creating progressive rock with a stronger commercial appeal this is brilliant. That this may lead to some purists writing the band off as pop prog is probably an easy pill to swallow if it shifts a few hundred more copies and makes an impact beyond the relatively confined waters of the hardcore progressive rock crowd.
But while this aspect of the album does make it more accessible, these guys haven’t forgotten some of the key features of progressive rock. The compositions tend to twist and turn, themes are explored and repeated and given variations on a subtle and not so subtle level, and tose with a keen interest in instrument details will have a plethora of themes and motifs to enjoy, especially underlying instrument motifs supporting or contrasting the main dominating one is rather bountiful here unless my ears deceive me a lot in the late evening hour I’m writing this down. Organ, keyboards and guitars in particular impress by way of variation, subtle alterations and smooth, dramatic shifts taken in stride. And while the sound is modern and there’s a certain emphasis on the lead vocals, unlike most progressive rock bands of note, my main impression is that the spirit and approach of the classic bands from the 70’s is distinctly present. In keyboard, guitar and bass sounds and performances, as well as in how drummer Fliszar will toss in some jazz-tinged drum details here and there.
I’ll also note down that this album is a clever one. Yes is stated as a direct influence by Perfect Beings, and there are plenty of nods in that direction by way of firm bass guitar, keyboard details and especially vocal harmonies, but there are plenty of references to other bands incorporated here as well, by accident or by design. Fans of Genesis, and at least to some extent Camel and Pink Floyd too, should find the overall sound of this production vaguely familiar due to that. At some point what sounds like a direct nod in the direction of Focus appears, and certain guitar details here and there also brought bands like Rush and even Hawkwind to mind. If this is due to clever design or merely an accidental feature I don’t know, but a direct result is that this album will have a subtly familiar feel to it from a fairly widespread crowd amongst the progressive rock audience. Which will lead to direct results in form of sales, and as this album is about a year old now I guess I should write presumably have lead to an increase in sales I guess.
All in all “Perfect Beings” comes across as a solid product. Clever, charming and intelligent, in a manner that will give it an appeal beyond the regular progressive rock crowd but maintaining enough of the spirit and approach from the heyday of this type of music to have a strong appeal even to veteran progressive rock fans. A well made album that is easily recommended to fans of both the golden age bands of progressive rock as well as to those with an interest in a more contemporary sounding project, although I suspect that at least a certain fascination for the giants of old will be needed to truly enjoy this production.
My rating: 82/100