Pure Reason Revolution
Above Cirrus


4.3
superb

Review

by Dewinged STAFF
May 12th, 2022 | 56 replies


Release Date: 05/06/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And beyond!

When I landed in Tokyo in 2009, my life, as I knew it, was basically shattered. I had come through a ten-year relationship that ended up like the battle of Waterloo, my economy was sunk next to the corpse of Di Caprio still stuck under the iron of the Titanic, rotting at the bottom of the ocean, and I had no friends or family to rely on in that new, very foreign land. It took a year of working and saving, eating loads of cup noodle and practically becoming an alcoholic, but eventually I dug my own hole (24 square meters, approximately) and before I knew I had started finding joy again, new friends, and even love (which eventually became marriage, a kid and the key to my demise, but that’s a story for another review).

What I wanted to say is that, the soundtrack of that first year of blooming again after the withering was Amor Vincit Omnia, Pure Reason Revolution's second and still, their most eclectic album. I had just discovered them through one of those listening stands in Shibuya's now long-gone HMV record stores and I quickly became fascinated by their brand of alternative rock infused with electronic elements. But what really made me go crazy about them was that signature sound in their vocal harmonies, something that it’s the only constant that has remained untouched throughout their catalogue. Sadly, after a follow up in the shape of Hammer and Anvil in 2010 and while the band seemed to be doing pretty ok, they suddenly decided to call it quits and practically disappeared for the entirety of the 10s. Alper went on to form her own project, Tiny Giant, and became a session touring musician for Charli XCX. Courtney, on the other hand, moved to Berlin and eventually formed a duo called Bullet Height towards the end of the decade. Their drummer, Paul Glover eventually drummed for Alper’s project and to be fair, I have no idea what happened with guitar maestro Jamie Wilcox.

Me? I veered towards creating my own music too, to the point that I lost myself in my own anus so deep that I almost completely lost interest in listening to any other band for a period that would last almost six years after that. Never, not even in my wildest dreams, I would have expected Pure Reason Revolution coming back in 2020 after years of praying to the forbidden gods and sacrificing almost all my stock of broken drumsticks to the fire. Let alone that they would do it with an album like Eupnea trumpeting their glorious return. With slightly less surprise but still with considerable awe and admiration for their craft, soon after Eupnea was released, I already knew that Jon Courtney had been working on a follow-up.

It seems that, due to the fickle nature of the writing process, which started in April of 2020 and saw intense periods of inspiration being counter-reflected with dry seasons when Jon preferred to shift his focus to the potatoes growing in his garden, PRR's new album has taken almost 18 months to be complete. Since Eupnea couldn't be toured due to the pandemic splashing wave after wave against everyone's plans, and since the band had the possibility of working remotely, the album cycle was much shorter than usual which eventually allowed for Above Cirrus to be conceived almost at the same speed King Gizzard churns out records. Almost.

The dream team from Eupnea is all here, so it's safe to say that if you enjoyed their 2020 comeback, this one will be a sure shot. Chloe Alper made some space in her busy schedule as a member of britpop legends James to record her vocals, while session drummer and producer Geoff Dugmore sat once again behind the drum kit and made Jon's programmed drums sound like Thor was hammering two Mjolnirs on the drumskins. In addition, former member Greg Jong, who had worked already in Eupnea on a lesser degree, takes a heavier role here as a co-songwriter with Jon Courtney, as well as performing as a third vocalist and guitar player on tour. The result is an album that sounds pretty much like Eupnea, but where the heavy parts are heavier, and the electronic parts are, well... more... electronic.

In all my years of listening to PRR I could never pinpoint exactly which are their influences, and that remains unchanged. Sure, you could say there's a certain scent of Pink Floyd in The Dark Third, as well as progressive rock elements that speak of Wilson’s Porcupine Tree sprinkled around, but especially when they shifted to moogs and synths to create the backbone of their sound with Amor Vincit Omnia, I sort of lost track of the roots that carried that sound. Courtney has cited recently The Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails as influences, and I can certainly hear some of Corgan in those single finger power tone riffs, but on this album I also feel the shadow of Tool (please, stay!) looming over the drumming that opens "Our Prisms" and the wah wah guitar lead that weaves the entirety of "Cruel Deliverance". All in all, as soon as the vocals kick in, those influences vanish, and all I can hear it's Pure Reason Revolution’s unmistakable sound.

I said before that this is probably the heaviest that the band has ever been. "Scream Sideways" features some really wild riffing in the mid-sections, and the same goes for the latter half of "Phantoms", the intro riff of "Our Prism" or the chorus of "Dead Butterfly". This last song also takes me back to the electronic era of AVO, enriched even further with neck-bending beats and the usual flourishing fountain of vocal harmonies. "Phantoms" would be my pick as a favorite though, a short and sweet very danceable track that even Jon Courtney has declared he and his whole family used to dance to during some improvised disco nights.

I wouldn't say that Above Cirrus is an album of highlights shadowing the more mid content though. As it was the case with Eupnea, PRR's fifth release flows almost seamless from head to tail, balancing perfectly length and intensity. "Our Prism" and "New Kind of Evil" become almost a single, gigantic opening the album. "Cruel Deliverance" is a beautiful respite in the middle, and it allows you to breathe in preparation to the titanic "Scream Sideways", a ten-minute track that almost deserves a review of its own. "Lucid" closes the album with the same energy as the rest of the songs, spiraling out with a hypnotic chorus where the three vocalists shine as they intertwine their melodies into a gran finale of sorts.

Above Cirrus confirms Pure Reason Revolution as one of the most enticing bands in the... how to say this... alt prog electronic rock scene with an album that takes everything that Eupnea did and pushes it even further. Oh, and it definitely takes me back to those nights of neon and debauchery in Tokyo. I know those are never coming back but who knows, I also thought once that PRR would never make new music, and here we are now, jamming above the clouds and beyond!



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user ratings (47)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


27982 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Sorry, I'm late.



user ajcollins described this as "A bit of a classic art and alternative rock with those heavy-ish post-hardcore style guitars." so there you have a shorter, probably more accurate review in case you don't wanna read all my garbage rev.



Dead Butterfly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09OmGyGWjmc&ab_channel=InsideOutMusicTV

Phantoms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJVbvYoIG0A&ab_channel=InsideOutMusicTV



Enjoy!



Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

zakalwe
May 12th 2022


35767 Comments


Nice one Dewi. I knocking around Shibuya in 2008. Amazing times.
Enjoying this album.


Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


27982 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Cheers zaka, good times indeed. The album is class, glad you're enjoying it too.

cloakanddagger
May 12th 2022


516 Comments


Been enjoying this album so far, glad that Eupnea wasn't a fluke.

Gyromania
May 12th 2022


34460 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review.



I loved eupnea, def gotta hear this.

gravityswitch
May 12th 2022


982 Comments


Now I really want to read about your Tokyo stories dewi. Nice review!

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


27982 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Oh that would take many revs, grav, but I'll slip them in once I run out of ideas, which is probably soon haha

Demon of the Fall
May 12th 2022


24591 Comments


This one is solid enough, unsure how much it'll stick but I still hear harmonies and only (perhaps) a modicum of podginess, so that bodes well.

Hoping for Eupnea levels, as tDT will likely forever remain their unreachable peak and it would be silly to expect that.

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


47469 Comments


cuterev

ummmokayalbum

neither impressed nor unimpressed on first spin. definitely don't think this has the instant magic of Eupnea, despite being pretty similar in a load of ways. vaguely felt that it was going through the motions of that sound with a flashier toolkit and More songwriting decisions

"cited recently The Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails as influences"

this is probably why, eww

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

parksungjoon
May 12th 2022


42920 Comments


siamese dream >

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


47469 Comments


siamese dream >>>> smashing pumpkins yeah

the pumpkins-y bits here sound like zero mixed with love

parksungjoon
May 12th 2022


42920 Comments


check gish

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


4436 Comments


nice read, i love it when you get ~personal~
few nitpicks:
- "With slight less surprise" the slight probably needs a ly here
- 3rd para final sentence has 2 alreadys
- "the potatoes growing on his garden" on = in
- "almost at the same speed than King Gizzard churns" 'than' can be deleted
- "Chloe Alper made some space on her busy schedule as a member of britpop legends James to record her vocals" on = in, also this sentence doesn't make a lot of sense to me (but this might rly just be a me problem haha)
- "gran finale" i think granny is missing a d here

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

Pikazilla
May 12th 2022


22989 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

above syphilis

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


27982 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

The gran finale thing is an italian expression so i believe it's fine?but I'll check. I'll get on the rest in the morning, tx Jesp!



@johnny had the same impression you described on first listen but it has grown on me a lot

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


17567 Comments


Those neon nights must have been a blast ;) Gotta check this

Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Disharmonium - Undreamable Abysses

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


4436 Comments


damn, italian grannies are not getting any d? (jk i checked and it be italian indeed haha oops)

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2022


27982 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

@notrap i will never forget the first time I got out of the subway right in Shibuya crossing on a rainy night. It was absolutely unreal.

Pikazilla
May 12th 2022


22989 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

imagine doing that and jamming some dopeass synthwave

Gyromania
May 12th 2022


34460 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is good so far, not immediately in love like i was with eupnea tho but it sounds like a big grower



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