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CD REVIEW: Mike Vasas and the Beasts of Burden - Mike Vasas and the Beasts of Burden
By Alex Jasperse - 02/01/2007 - 01:25 AM EST

Artist: Band: Mike Vasas and the Beasts of Burden
Album: Mike Vasas and the Beasts of Burden [2006]
Label: Grammy Hall Records
Genre: Art-Rock, Progressive Rock, Rock
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9.5/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9.5/10
CD Review:

When you come across an album that speaks to you, it’s often hard to describe the emotional impact it inspires. Close your eyes, and your imagination has the ability to transform the music to something ethereal and impalpable. It builds and creates images, colours and textures. It provokes emotions that can shape the way you live and experience the everyday. It is this communications process – between the listener and the music – that can be so powerful.

Mike Vasas and the Beats of Burden is a phenomenal album that uses progressive elements as a backdrop to highly creative compositions that often transcend any single appellation. It’s beautiful, cinematic, uncompromising and truly refreshing. And it doesn’t back itself into a musical corner or turn aside from the highly coloured world of sounds it springs from.

The band communicates a sonic imagery that is infused with originality and emotions, one that wields the power of pleasing and attracting listeners with hints and hits from many genres. Evoking stylized mannerisms, vaguely similar of Hogarth-era prog rockers, Marillion and the Collin led Genesis era (mixed together with hints of Steely Dan and Paul McCartney), Mike Vasas and the Beasts of Burden weave together an ornamental tapestry in the theme of fusion.

Often defying traditional song structures in favour of a more picturesque approach to their compositions, their debut offers a combination of pop sensibilities with the epic proportions of many ‘70s era progressive rock masterpieces. Tracks such as Slavery are laced with beautiful, melodic reverb-drenched guitar work that just bleed emotion – soaring from one peak to the next.

As the music presents itself, the ability of the group to captivate the listener with powerful and intense landscapes – without going overboard into the depths of pretentiousness – is beautifully illustrated in dreamlike tracks like Early Departure and Shells. Vasas’s use of simplistic guitar lines, layered with hauntingly beautiful keyboard lines, demonstrates his mastery of colouring the thoughtful, and sometimes solemn lyrics, with his hushed and reassuring tones.

Time seems to float by effortlessly, as you’ll find yourself halfway through the album in what seems like minutes. Although each song is given a glossy and somewhat ‘pop’ sheen, there’s an organic honesty within that shines through (notably in Bread Beard Read). Combine this with the fact that these individuals are working together as an experienced band, clearly accentuates the precise technical skills and potential waiting to be revealed to a wider listener community.

Mike Vasas and the Beats of Burden’s self-titled debut is a powerful artistic statement that demonstrates their ability to sculpt sounds into new and exciting expressions. By synthesizing genres one after another, this work removes all preconceptions and judgments that might otherwise be evoked. This is music to hear, to think and to excite – and in turn, inspire further exploration.

The Verdict: 9.3/10

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