The Wring is a solo project rather than a band, put together by North Ontario’s Don Dewulf, who wrote, arranged and produced everything on the album, with the occasional assistance of others. All the supporting musicians playing on this release have very impressive track records, including stints with people such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Glenn Hughes and Robert Fripp amongst others.
Project Cipher is an interesting release with some quirky compositions and exceptionally good performances, given the complexity of some of the music performed. As Dewulf says ‘I love the complexity and innovation of prog rock, and also the hooks and brevity of great classic rock, and here The Wring tries to give you both.’
They make a valiant attempt to do both. On the surface, this is a rock record, with melody and rock riffs aplenty, but there’s also a distinct proggy undercurrent swirling underneath, with plenty of changes of keys and tempos, smooth prog-like riffs and several lyrics which definitely tweaked the imagination … my mind a cauldron that’s spewing, maligned the solace accusing, from flames of ignorant musing ( ‘Dose’). They’re also players who haven’t quite grasped ‘less can be more,’ with songs straining under the sheer weight of notes played. Yes, bands like Dream Theatre also drown songs in musical notes, but the difference is .. they know how to make it work.
Nevertheless, there’s some powerful music on the album. Opening explosively with ‘The Light,’ the quality of the musicians involved produces some sparkling band interplay, though I wasn’t sure why the drummer had to be quite as busy, filling in every space with incessant drum rolls. From the outset, The Wring comes across like a less-intense Opeth, which is evident on ‘Sorceress,’ with its quirky riffage. ‘Cipher’ is an instrumental track and sounds like a homage to Rush via ‘YYZ.’ Tracks like ‘Steelier’ and ‘Dissonance,’ are more standard rock tunes, with the solo on ‘Dissonance’ making it a candidate for the best track on the album, and concludes with ‘Dose’ which begins jazzy and becomes rockier as the song unfolds, and ‘Touch,’ a slower not-quite power ballad.
Cipher is a musical adventure and, despite the reservations about how busy some of the musicians occasionally are, there’s certainly enough good music on the album to keep the listener interested.