Gizmodrome is good fun!
It seems necessary to say that up front. It’s only a matter of time before some prog rock purist comes along and starts nit-picking about the debut musical effort from this amazing new supergroup.
Let’s accept Gizmodrome for what it is: four supremely talented musicians making a record, knowing full and well they have nothing left to prove. Not to themselves, not to each other, and certainly not to us. Stewart Copeland (drums and vocals), Adrian Belew (guitar and background vox), Mark King (bass and background vox), and Vittorio Cosma (keyboards) have put their formidable chops on display in more contexts than we can imagine. There’s no need for any of them to draw attention to themselves.
Instead, the quartet got in a room together and did what the best musicians do: they listened to one another and played what the song needed. That’s not to say that there aren’t some crazy notes flying around, because there are. But they’re the right notes in the right context. That’s what makes them special.
Sooner or later, someone is going to complain about the sound of Copeland’s singing voice, which admittedly can be a little jarring at first. Why is he singing when a quality frontman like Belew is right there? The reason is simple: for the most part, they’re Copeland’s songs!
The drummer and keyboardist had been assembling material for months, when Cosma suggested bringing Belew on board. Copeland countered that they should bring in King while they were at it. The four gathered in Italy, and the rest pretty much took care of itself. Copeland taught Belew and King the songs’ lyrics, with the intent of passing the vocal duties to them. But Belew and King realized their “professional” singing voices weren’t what the songs needed. That energy came from Copeland. And there you have it.
Which brings me back to the “fun” aspect of this record. Gizmodrome isn’t going for epic, set-length prog pieces straight out of the ’70s. Copeland has cheekily declared the band’s songs “prog-punk,” which to me translates to relatively quick songs you need chops to play. That should be more than enough to keep fans happy. If that’s not enough, get a copy of the companion CD, which contains the instrumental riffs of most of the songs. They are an educational listen.
This is one of those records to be enjoyed, not heavily mulled over. That’s not to say the songs are disposable. There’s some AMAZING playing going on here. I’m simply saying let the music be what it is, rather than what you think it should be.
Gizmodrome has created a very cool “honeymoon” record. Whether this translates to more music down the road remains to be seen. If it does, I’m on board. If not, that’s fine, too. The music at hand is more than enough to keep me amused for a while.
When I need a musical smile, I know where to go.
Buy the new Gizmodrome album, Gizmodrome, here.