Prior to playing this album, I knew nothing about iNFiNiEN, save for the fact the band’s name is a pain in the tuckus to type. I took on the assignment of reviewing them because I’m all about discovering music and bands I’ve never heard of; and because I was told iNFiNiEN was stylistically similar to Bent Knee, currently one of my favorite bands. That was enough to pique my interest.
What I found in this band was something else entirely. Yes, iNFiNiEN plays music that could be deemed undefinable. They flourish in the musical gray areas where angels fear to tread. But they are not derivative of Bent Knee or any other group. Light at the Endless Tunnel, iNFiNiEN’s latest release, breaks its own ground, and leaves its own marvelous mark.
This band falls into that crevice between jazz and progressive rock, with a smattering of other influences to boot. What I hear makes me think Frank Zappa wrote some music for King Crimson, who in turn invited Bent Knee over to play it for them. There are other influences sprinkled about as well. This is remarkably eclectic music.
What appeals to me most is the sense of musical imagination present. This is a band unconcerned with conformity or charting hits. There is a muse being chased here, and iNFiNiEN will not rest until she is captured! Because of that, the band is able to keep pushing forward, jumping over or running through any preconceived musical barriers as they do so. The music they create is focused, but challenging. It also sounds like a great deal of fun!
Vocalist Chrissie Loftus (who also plays keyboards) keeps things from getting too heavy with her ethereal voice. With her providing the light, the rest of the band (bassist Jordan Berger, drummer Tom Cullen, and guitarist Matt Hollenberg) are free to establish musical foundations, tear them down, and build new ones. The only musical limit appears to be the limits themselves. In other words, this is a band doing what it feels is best, and that instinct serves them well.
Anyone expecting a gentle introduction to this album is in for a pleasant disappointment. INFiNiEN establishes its musical identity right away with opening tracks “Brand New” and “AYA,” songs that tell the listener they are not hearing a conventional minded pop band. This is music that requires thought and presence.
“Off the Tracks” presents some of the most adventurous music I’ve heard in 4/4 time. The music is so exotic in places, it’s shocking to realize how common the beat is. This doesn’t simplify the music. Rather, it enhances it by giving the new listener a relatable place to fall back to, if needed.
The album’s title track makes me think of Zappa writing the soundtrack for a Bollywood movie. It’s playful, exotic, and complex all at once. I have nothing but respect for a band out to challenge itself and have fun doing it.
Of course, there is plenty more where this came from. But the real thrill comes from listening to the music, not reading about it.
Bands like iNFiNiEN give me hope for the future of music. Given the dearth of overly processed slop being presented as commercial music, this band provides a much needed breath of fresh air to a stale landscape. Support artists like this, and you will never lack for quality music.
iNFiNiEN’s album Light at the Endless Tunnel was released on February 1, 2017. Buy the album here.