One of the common elements or trademarks of progressive rock is the ubiquitous concept album. The songs within the album revolve around a common theme or idea. Sometimes the concept develops as a story, with characters and plot. New Jersey's 3rdegree is a band adept at merging both. The arrive with their fifth album, Ones & Zeros Vol. 1.
The title gives you some clue to the theme, something to do digital world, computers, and such. Press material states the album "is thematically linked around the issues of transhumanism, life extension, the singularity, and the ethics associated with the rapid progress of technology. Transhumanism? The singularity? Yeah. Okay. You've lost me already. Which is also to say you're going to want the lyrics handy while listening. Abstraction is not exactly the best place to start when listening to and pondering the merits of a new album. I can tell you this: I definitely liked the previous The Long Division more than this album. There are a few reasons for this, mostly from personal reflection.
One is that the album is largely both meandering and repititive from the start. Most everything seems to run together at least through Circuit Court. The layers of synths, piano, and guitar riffs seemed merely to blend together as one. Maybe that's the singularity spoken of. The following Life At Any Cost, What It Means To Be Human, and We Regret to Inform You were the first pieces to acquire my attention. Some of this because they were heavier in parts, even sounding more enthusiastic and lively. Also, as within Life At Any Cost, the guitar work was more predominant. Another thing that threw my interest off was the intermitent talking throughout the album. It's not excessive by any means, and I'm sure it has purpose (well maybe not), but the cutesy computer speak seemed more an interruption than point of intrigue. And that's probably, the bottom line. Musically, I did not find the music all that intriguing or captiviting. After several listens for review, I can safely say that I will probably never listen to the album.
Nevertheless, that's not to say that this is a "bad" album. To the contrary. As you would expect from 3rdegree, the musicianship is expert, the song composition sound, both melodic and mildly technical, and the concept and story, intelligent and thoughtfully expressed. (However, I needed to use a magnifying glass with my bifocals to read the lyrics.) In other words, it's everything you would expect in a 3rdegree album. I simply didn't find it all that appealing. You need to explore it for yourself. There's a sample below and, as of this writing, you can stream their entire album on their website. Listen and convince yourself. You'll likely enjoy it.
With Ones & Zeros Vol. 1, and as you would expect from 3rdegree, the musicianship is expert, the song composition sound, melodic and mildly technical, and the concept and story, intelligent and thoughtfully expressed.
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