Four Stroke Baron
Planet Silver Screen


4.5
superb

Review

by SitarHero CONTRIBUTOR (57 Reviews)
November 9th, 2018 | 105 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Serious music for people who don’t like serious music

Picture this scenario: three guys get together to knock back some beers and record some riffs. Once they put the pieces of music together they realise that they have a quirky progressive rock/metal sound. The guitarist of this “band” decides to record some vocals just for sh!ts and giggles. Since he’s had a couple of beer he thinks it would be hilarious to do a Robert Smith impression. His “bandmates” crack up, but decide it actually fits the music they’ve been making so they roll with it.

I have no idea how true any of the statements in the preceding paragraph are. I just made all of that up to explain the existence of Four Stroke Baron because I can only imagine that the band started life as an elaborate ironic joke—a joke that turned out to be more amusing than it had any right to be. They’ve already released a DIY EP and LP prior to this that flew almost completely under the radar. I say almost because the LP, King Radio, managed to get the attention of Prosthetic Records, who signed Four Stroke Baron, without them having ever played a show, and resulted in the recording of Planet Silver Screen.

Now if you’re only just discovering Four Stroke Baron—and by the band’s own estimation, there’s close to a 1:100,000,000 chance that you aren’t—then Planet Silver Screen is probably the best way to discover them. Of all their releases thus far, this is the most accessible because it benefits from improved production and the reigning in of some of the the band’s quirkier impulses.

This isn’t to say that Four Stroke Baron have left all of their weirdness at the door. While Planet Silver Screen may be less bizarre than Four Stroke Baron’s previous efforts, that distinction is purely relative. Make no mistake, this is a weird and nearly unclassifiable little record that pairs heavy modern progressive rock with new wave/post punk, seemingly inspired by the likes of Tears for Fears and The Cure, and touches of jazz and electronica, and somehow makes that insane fusion of styles work. It’s also, for the most part, a lean and mean album chock full of insanely catchy hooks and riffs, and widescreen soundscapes, that, just when you think you have the measure of it, throws curveballs like saxophone solos played by the likes of Jørgen Munkeby.

While most “prog” records feel weighed down by an inflated sense of self-importance, the last thing Four Stroke Baron are trying to do is take themselves seriously. This approach could have failed miserably if it didn’t seem so effortless. The first half of the album, consisting of the title-track, “Neon Person”, “Machine and Joy”, and a “Matter of Seconds”, is infectious and relatively straightforward. The songs groove and twist and turn in unexpected directions in a way that feels almost improvisational but are anchored by strong melodies and hooks.

The album isn’t all fun and games, however. Beginning with “7th of July” the band begins relying on atmosphere and, while groovy riffs still abound, soundscaping fills the second half of the album with an unsettling and almost ominous air that builds so gradually that you might not even notice it happening the first time you listen to the album. “Duplex”, which is the quietest song on the record, should, on paper, feel like a respite from the riffage that came before it with its clean guitars, laid-back synthesizer and flute melodies, and Pink Floyd-ian guitar solo, but it has an oppressive sense of concealed menace. All this eventually culminates in “Video Maniacs” which serves as the perfect summary of everything that went before it.

It is the mashing together of contradicting aesthetics that ultimately provide Four Stroke Baron and Planet Silver Screen with their raison d’etre. The band and their music are an experiment in finding ways to make elements that shouldn’t work, work, somehow. The band’s roots as a DIY studio project without the need for compromise of any kind has allowed its members to carve out a sonic niche that’s completely unique, for better or worse, and “progressive” in every sense of the word. Planet Silver Screen finds Four Stroke Baron continuing to strive to defy convention, categorization and critique with equal aplomb while having fun doing it, and it’s hard to say that they are anything short of wildly successful.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Here's the stream. Do yourself a favour and check this out!



https://fourstrokebaron.bandcamp.com/album/planet-silver-screen

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Also, this video is fucking great!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfONQAflRBw

Eons
November 9th 2018


2236 Comments


Reno is a pretty cool town. Kind of shady, though.

Digging: Haimad - The Return

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Never actually been there. It's always been Barstow and Vegas.



[edit] I always thought Barstow was in Nevada, but apparently it's in California? WEIRD!

WatchItExplode
November 9th 2018


6686 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I had no idea that this was a thing and that I needed it in my life so much.

Digging: Pile - Green and Grey

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hahaha! That's appropriate!

WatchItExplode
November 9th 2018


6686 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I've now listened to this thing 3x in a row. Stop sleeping and get on it folks!

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2018


15826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Interesting. Great review Sitar, made me want to check this. Pos'd!

Digging: Full of Hell - Weeping Choir

AgentDeathbat
November 9th 2018


9885 Comments


I'll have to check this out at some point.

Ecnalzen
November 9th 2018


8335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

He kind of sounds like the Tears for Fears guy. I think I like that.



This is pretty alright so far. Might get even better with some more listens.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Great review Sitar, made me want to check this."



Thanks Dewi! All I can hope for is more people checking this out! :]

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I've now listened to this thing 3x in a row. Stop sleeping and get on it folks!"



Haha! It's addictive innit? You should check out King Radio and the EP as well. I think they're still on bandcamp as free downloads.

AgentDeathbat
November 10th 2018


9885 Comments


I want to like this more, but the vocals aren't vibing with me.

I'm going to rate when I'm done.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 10th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ha! Yeah, it's bound to be polarising.

AgentDeathbat
November 10th 2018


9885 Comments


I can tell. lol @ the 1

AgentDeathbat
November 10th 2018


9885 Comments


The music saves this from being anything less than a 3, if it was some generic garbage this'd be a 2 easily.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 10th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yup, this is anything but generic. I'm not even sure what to compare this to musically. I've seen people compare it to Mastodon, but I'm not even sure about that.

AgentDeathbat
November 10th 2018


9885 Comments


Yeah, the music is hard to classify. I'm just not a huge fan of a lot of the new wave-y vocal styles.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
November 10th 2018


9449 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's definitely a love it/hate it deal with the vocals. I was a little ambivalent about King Radio until the leadoff single for this one came out, which I loved. Then I revisited King Radio and found that I liked it a lot more than I remembered.

AgentDeathbat
November 10th 2018


9885 Comments


Yeah, the vocals bring this down quite a bit for me. Then again, that's what made me hate newer DGD for a while.



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