Thank You Scientist
Terraformer


4.5
superb

Review

by Scheumke USER (14 Reviews)
June 14th, 2019 | 317 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another masterclass in modern progressive music

If there’s one thing that drew me to 2016’s 'Stranger Heads Prevail', it was the clever layering of all the different instruments to create a progressive jazz-rock album to really dive into. It was a complex cacophony that was catchy enough to just fall into the ‘easy listening’ category (for prog standards that is), but had an almost overwhelming amount of meat on its bones that would demand your full attention if you wanted to dissect it all.

Their big selling point hinges on the band's lineup, consisting of your standard quartet of drums, bass, guitars and vocals, complemented by a violist, saxophonist and trumpeter. Take a second to think of all the musical directions a lineup like that could go. Now add to that an almost limitless proficiency and virtuosity of each instrument. Finally, replace the egotripping “I’m the best player here so I want the spotlight 24/7” for actual quality songwriting and you get a sense for the potential a band like Thank You Scientist has. A potential they almost fully delivered in 'Stranger Heads Prevail', and yes, again delivers on 'Terraformer'.

In the three years since then, the seven-piece from New Jersey haven’t exactly been resting on their laurels. On the contrary, 'Terraformer' is the result of a band with too many ideas to know what to do with. Thirteen songs (ten statements, an intro and two musical pallet cleansers) spread out over a whopping 84 minutes is a lot to digest. Too much to digest for me all at once, as I found out during my first listen. I had to take a couple of minutes halfway through to get myself refreshed and keep focus, for boy is there a lot of meat on 'Terraformer'. I’d say even more so than or their previous two records.

The song lengths have increased, with the result that most of the songs on 'Terraformer' feel less immediate and focused. They take their time building on the ideas and showcasing more different styles and atmospheres in each song. The opening piece FXMLDR (apparently pronounced as Foxmolder, whatever that may mean) is a great example of this. In nearly eight minutes, Thank You Scientist flow almost seamlessly from one musical pattern into the next, using clever harmonies and an incredible saxophone solo all to their greatest effect. A catchy earworm of a chorus gives some immediate cohesion to the piece. Knowing Thank You Scientist though, there will be a lot more that ties all the chaos and different musical lines together, because the song never derails or loses itself in needless over-prog’ing if you will.

There are no obvious weaker tracks on 'Terraformer' (quite a feat on its own I have to say), and it will be an album where everyone will have a different ‘favorite song’. Whether it's the darker, moodier Anchor (my personal favorite at this moment), the more cohesive and streamlined Swarm, or the grandiosity of Son of a Serpent, prog and jazz fans alike are sure to find their own little itch to scratch on 'Terraformer'.

In 84 minutes though, there are bound to be a couple of head scratching decisions. The lengthy guitar solo in Everyday Ghosts misses its mark due to a unnecessary length and a very questionable guitar sound. The ten minute instrumental Chromology could’ve also used some fat-trimming, which is the same problem Rube Goldberg Variations had on 'Stranger Heads Prevail'. These however, are minor discrepancies in an otherwise masterclass of modern progressive music.

All in all, this might be too chaotic or seemingly directionless for some. However, figuring out all the little subtleties, like a bassline taking over the guitar line from a second before, is what makes 'Terraformer' such a fun, rewarding and fulfilling listen. It just has more to give beneath the surface and more to discover than your average prog-rock album, and it makes 'Terraformer' a serious ‘album of the year’ contender, just like its predecessor was three years ago.



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user ratings (243)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Scheumke
June 14th 2019


947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just quick write-up to get the discussion started. As always, feel free to provide feedback etc.

Digging: Heilung - Futha

DoofDoof
June 14th 2019


4480 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

These cats are nothing if not consistent

Scheumke
June 14th 2019


947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah if you didn't like it to begin with, this aint gonna change anything.

DoofDoof
June 14th 2019


4480 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

It's sort of Mars Volta-lite and I can't stand 90% of the stuff TMV released.

Pikazilla
June 14th 2019


1354 Comments


the bands lineup => the band's lineup (start of second paragraph)

Never listened to these guys before even though I know lots of people here loved the debut.


Oh hai, a Doof 2.

DoofDoof
June 14th 2019


4480 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

It’s supposed to be a Doof 1.5 but currently that rating is blocked

cfbassist
June 14th 2019


364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've only listened once, but I am pretty sure the solo in Everyday Ghosts is a violin, or at the least they are switching off. Either way i dont disagree about that part.

Scheumke
June 14th 2019


947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Are you sure cfbassist? I'm not hearing the violin. I'm talking about the solo from 6:50 - 7:57

@Pika: Thnx, edited it!

nightbringer
June 14th 2019


433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I got a lot less excited to check this out when I saw the run time. The prior probability of this being consistently good across such a long time is low. Hopefully it will surprise me though!

cfbassist
June 14th 2019


364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Im dumb, was thinking of a different song. This album has so much going on!! Well in that case i felt the solo in anchor went on a little too long.

GreyShadow
June 14th 2019


3236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Chromology's problem is that it peaks way too early with that duet. it still has so much to offer afterwards but none of it tops that. I actually think Rube Goldberg Variations is super cohesive and definitely their best instrumental

Toondude10
June 14th 2019


13900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album, I was worried about the 84 minute runtime but most of this breezes by surprisingly.

WatchItExplode
June 14th 2019


6896 Comments


I'll give it a shot. These guys are a band that amaze and repel me in equal measure.

JS19
June 14th 2019


7228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Is this like if Reign of Kindo were still as good as they used to be

Digging: Alarmist - Sequesterer

ProjectFreak
June 14th 2019


3775 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this isn't very Kindo-like at all, it's more like Coheed + Mars Volta + horns



that said, I listened to all 84 minutes without getting bored, which is a pretty big achievement

DoofDoof
June 14th 2019


4480 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

‘Coheed + Mars Volta + horns’



I feel sorry for the horns keeping that company

JS19
June 14th 2019


7228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh wow that sounds dreadful

nightbringer
June 14th 2019


433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This seems like "the bad kind of prog" to me, on first listen. Way too much meandering, way too little song-writing sense. If the band could have found a way to focus all this into half the runtime it probably would have been a lot better. But as I say, this is the first listen talking.

9Hammer
June 14th 2019


180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review there. I'm liking what I'm hearing so far. Quite surprised that I haven't heard of this band earlier.

ProjectFreak
June 14th 2019


3775 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the band is pretty much the definition of polarizing



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