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Cabinets of Curiosity - The Chaos Game

Cabinets of Curiosity
The Chaos Game
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 16 February 2019, 7:54 AM

Fragile era YES meets KAMELOT. Frank Zappa meets Fiona Apple. It’s hard to summarize the diverse array of sounds CABINETS OF CURIOSITY puts down, but guitarist and songwriter James Naprawa definitely has his own ideas.  “There are so many talented Prog bands out there, but we really wanted to touch on what made the classic era of Prog so magical,” says Naprawa. “Sometimes that means getting super technical and torturing my bandmates with insane time signatures, but one thing I love about bands like YES, RUSH, and GENESIS, is that it’s always musical. It’s always hummable. That’s what we want to bring to the table, but with a fresh, 21st century twist.” The new album “The Chaos Game” contains twelve tracks. It’s a concept album…“follows a young paralegal as she's called up to The Upper Realm to destroy, create, and then save the universe… by blowing up a mountain.”

“Death, She Walks on” opens the album. It’s a strange little song talking about the fear of data, with dissonant vocals. “Fractals & Coastlines” is a twelve minute beast, opening with the sounds of opening & fixing a drink. It definitely has a Zappa sound to it, with saxophone and oddly connected chord progressions. Hornyak has the pipes but sings in such an odd way. At the four-minute mark a more assimilated melody presents itself, with flute, keys and soft vocals. It’s quite captivating. The bass guitar then takes over for a bit. “Take a cigar, pour the gin, pull up a chair. You’re going to be here for quite a while, so relax.” From there, guitar and keys exchange with one another, and the weirdness returns.

“Timeless Sound” is a brief four minutes. Though some of the melodies follow a linear pattern, the song is fairly all over the place. “Doomsday Algorithm” is seven minutes in length, opening with pensive vocals and a fairly steady presence of piano, flute and sax. From there it turns fairly dark. “The Same Tiny Apartment” is under one minute, and simulates what you can hear from your neighbors and surroundings. I’m unsure as to its place on the album. “In a Day” opens with a fairly linear sound, speaking about business as usual. “In a day, how many T-bones and head-on collisions. Can count as near misses in northern New Jersey? Can we blame the economy? Time’s a commodity. On the black market on the Garden State Parkway, in a day.” I get the sentiment here and it is told in a fairly straightforward way.

“Fractometer” is fairly dense and moves quickly, with the thwacking of bass guitar and flute and sax dancing around in the background. But once again, there isn’t much of a melody line that you can grab onto.  “Bro Science” is a quick 30 second song, about lifting weights. “Come on bro I only need one more rep…you got this.” “The Chemist & the Engineer” is a mid-tempo number that is all over the place. The only thing that I connected with was the well-structured guitar solo. “Nowhere near the Blade” features some diverse vocal offerings. Hornyak can from quiet and subdued to all-out at any given time. The bass and key sequence is pretty trippy. “Now you see just how deceitful all the ghosts inside you are. Let them know you won’t surrender to their woeful cries, their clever bribes, I send my love, send it like countless troops to penetrate the walls. Watch them burn, watch them disintegrate beneath my hands, my steady hands. Please don't let it take you down. Don't let it take you down. Don't let it take you down.”

“The Clockwork Pheasant” closes the album. It has a linear main riff that is both tough and dark. It takes several different turns along the way, including operatic soprano vocals from Hornyak. Look, I’m a Prog guy. So I get the intricacies and self-indulgence that often comes in this genre, and occasional flat-out oddness. But, in the end, the songs have to make a statement. They have to move you on an emotional level. This album flat out failed to do so. The overall sound was so dissonant and the connections were very hard to follow. There were few emotional peaks and not much of a semblance of order. Hornyak has a beautiful voice but the cadence is sharp and rubs against me. At any given point in time, the guitars, bass, keys, flutes and sax appear to be doing their own thing, without synergy. It’s very off-putting for me. I’m not sure I would recommend this, not even to my weirdest Prog friends.

Songwriting: 3
Originality: 9
Memorability: 2
Production: 8

2 Star Rating

1. Death, She Walks on
2. Angular Sterility
3. Fractals & Coastlines
4. Timeless Sounds
5. Doomsday Algorithm
6. The Same Tiny Apartment
7. In a Day
8. Fractometer
9. Bro Science
10. The Chemist & the Engineer
11. Nowhere near the Blade
12. The Clockwork Pheasant
Natalie Hornyak – Vocals
Justin Jones – Keyboards
Jared Hirst – Bass
Anthony Warga – Saxophone
Kristina Bacich – Saxophone/ Flute
Brandon Blackmire – Guitar
James Naprawa – Guitar
Record Label: Independent


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