Unidentified Dying Objects by ArgosRelease date: July 20, 2018
Label: Bad Elephant Music
This is my first time putting my toes into the water of Argos’ music. Since forming in their hometown of Germany in 2005, Argos was originally a solo project by composer and multi-instrumentalist, Thomas Klarmann. According to an interview that he did with the Progressive Rock Central website on April 21, 2015 by Angel Romero, Thomas wanted to record some of the arrangements he did at home, but it didn’t fit for some of the other bands he collaborated with at the time.
He brought along Robert Gozon to join him for his project and put the demos out on MySpace. That was where they met drummer Ulf Jacobs. He joined the band and were then a three-man band. Then the French label, Musea Records, signed them for their sole self-titled debut in 2009. Guitarist. Rico Florzack, joined them on their second album, Circles, released in 2010. This line-up is still constant to this day. This year they added keyboardist, Thilo Brauss to the line-up, which makes a very interesting combination.
Argos have released a new album in 2018 entitled, Unidentified Dying Objects on the Bad Elephant Music label. Now for me, being new to Argos’ music, I had absolutely no idea on what to expect from them. But while listening to their fifth album, I could hear some mixtures between symphonic and medieval influences, mellotrons, guitars, and with the sounds soaring through the skies, Argos is taking the listener on a magic carpet ride from start to finish.
I wouldn’t compare their music to Genesis, because that would be pinning them down too much. When you listen to the opening track of ‘The Hunter’s Last Stand’, they tip their hats towards Wigwam’s Fairyport and Gentle Giant’s In a Glass House-era. The guitars and keyboards do a cat-and-mouse chase throughout the piece before entering the swirling puzzle-like house to go through each of the matching pieces and then heading outside through the dark. The lyrics tell a complex story of the hunter’s last time on this Earth. It has this mini-opera feel, knowing that he’s finally become his own worst enemy and he is someone you do not want to go near. Listening to the five centrepieces that are on this album, I could hear various inspirations and how much they’ve come along within the past 12 years.
It then goes upwards to the skies as Florczak’s guitar goes into overdrive, adding Karmann’s flute before Jacob’s drumming. While Andy Tillson’s keyboard and Brauss’ clavinet takes you back down to safety near the end. ‘The Parade of Unpainted Dreams’ has this cross between Mick Ronson’s shuffling blues riff on David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’ and going into a Beatlesesque atmosphere with some elements of William D. Drake’s ‘The Rising of the Lights’, it becomes at times, almost a psychedelic-pop journey.
I love the parts that make up ‘The Days of Perky Pat’. You can hear the influence of Caravan’s Richard Sinclair on Gozon’s vocal arrangements and Gary Green on Florczak’s guitar work. It’s a big challenge through the midsection to go through those corridors as the complex melodies are right on target.
‘Shock Handed Peter’ is like walking through the doors for the show to begin as the guitars and mellotron open up for a cabaret vaudeville rhythm. It’s quite unexpected for Argos to pull something like that. But for me I enjoyed it. Not only because it’s awesome, but it shows Argos having a little fun in their music and going beyond the progressive rock genre. With Marek Arnold’s clarinet filling up the room, it almost transforms itself into a Preservation Hall-sque sound that makes you feel that you are back at the club in New Orleans, Louisiana to hear some real good Jazz music. The closing 18-minute suite of ‘When the Tide Comes In’, is part science-fiction, part dreamy, and some of the twists…I can’t even spoil in this review.
You can hear some of the aspects of ‘Discipline’, Alice Cooper’s Welcome to my Nightmare, Frank Zappa, and Gryphon’s Red Queen to Gryphon Three with a medieval crunch. Argos take the story inside your head and make it a theatrical study of what is really happening. Not to mention the voice of the late great Paul Frees (best known as the voice of Professor Ludwig Von Drake) reading some of the excerpts from the first chapter of H.G. Wells’ 1898 classic, The War of the Worlds.
Argos have brought even more ingredients than ever before. The challenges on Unidentified Dying Objects are even bigger than I’ve ever expected them to be. However, it brings out the structures and helped them to go further. Now while I’m new to Argos’ music, I have to say after my fifth time listening to Unidentified Dying Objects, it has some very good structures and I hope one of these days, I’ll go back and listen to their first four albums to see what I was missing.