Album Review: Pattern-Seeking Animals – Only Passing Through

Album Review: Pattern-Seeking Animals - Only Passing Through
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

When the album you are reviewing is named after a quote about human behaviour by a science historian, you know that it’s likely to be a deep and meaningful release. The historian in question is Michael Shermer and the band is Pattern-Seeking Animals. Who I hear you ask? Well, I had the same thoughts, selecting the album from our weekly list mainly because of the name of the band and the label progressive rock. The prog aficionados will no doubt be tutting that I’m so uneducated, for PSA are linked via close association with none other than Spock’s Beard, the 30-year veterans formed by Neal and Alan Morse in 1992. The members of PSA comprise John Boegehold (keyboards and production), Ted Leonard (lead vocals and guitar), bassist Dave Meros and Jimmy Keegan on drums. Names that may or may not be familiar to you. Assembled mainly due to the amount of material that Boegehold had which didn’t quite fit with Spock’s Beard, this is music that will appeal to a broad range of music lovers.

‘Only Passing’ Through is the group’s third full-length release and it’s a subtly crafted hour of music that blends harmonies, melodies and intricately filled passages. It’s inevitable that one draws comparisons with both old and new bands from the prog scene. ‘Everdark Mountain’ which opens the album has a gentle Eastern feel, the combination of a rocky riff and layered keyboards easing you into the record. There’s no sense of urgency, just a joyous melodic mood which is over in under three minutes.

A progressive rock album would be sadly lacking without a behemoth of a song, and it arrives early with the 13-minute expressive workout of ‘Time Has a Way’. It’s a deliciously crafted piece, which involves brass sections and is underpinned by a comforting rhythm. As the song ebbs and flows, you are transported to a cinematic soundscape – this could easily be a movie score such is the grand scale it operates from. Hardly surprising given Boeghold’s track record for composing film scores and ambitious arrangements. It’s easy to lose yourself in the track, which sees all band members interplaying in fine scale.

Album Review: Pattern-Seeking Animals – Only Passing Through

Elsewhere there’s plenty to absorb and delight. The single ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ starts with a delicate folky edge, whilst the subtle chorus that features guest vocals provides another enjoyable angle. Then there’s the irresistible funk vibe of ‘Much Ado’, which has some very clever lyrics and a hook that you could land tuna with.

For those that grab the bonus edition, there are two extra songs, in the tender ‘Only Passing Through’ and the heartfelt ‘Just Another Day At The Beach’. Both tracks sit comfortably alongside the main album, with the latter having a semi-Beatles atmosphere but in a contemporary way.

Incorporating charango, ronrocco, ukulele, vihuela, bassoon, violin, trumpet, and cello, ‘Only Passing Through’ is both complex and simple in its attraction. There’s plenty to unpack, but you can also just let the music wash over you and absorb the quality on display. With elements of Genesis, Camel, Yes, Santana and even Opeth, and with the expected high quality production, ‘Only Passing Through’ is an album that can only bring joy.

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