Monday, September 27, 2021

Jupiter Hollow produces a sonic prog journey on new album Bereavement

Jupiter Hollow are two Canadians, Grant MacKenzie and Kenny Parry who between them sing and play six different instruments. Their music fluctuates somewhere between ambient prog and the furthest edges of prog metal, but with all kinds of mayhem going on in the middle. If like this reviewer, you’re coming at Jupiter Hollow for the first time you’ll probably be amazed to realise they’re only two guys playing on the album, because what they offer is a very mature statement of intent given they’re not even mid-twenties yet. For two young guys to have come up with this melange of different sounds is quite amazing.

Bereavement is a sonic journey. Their themes and lyrics are not everyday kinds. This is a story of escape and continues with the theme of their 2018 debut album, ADHOMN, telling of a powerful man sending his family and other members of society away to find an inhabitable world outside the solar system in order to salvage humanity. What’s contained in this album is frankly astonishing, built upon layer after layer of sound. Both Mackenzie and Parry are skilled instrumentalists and have merged their talents to produce some quite powerful music.

‘L’Eau du Papineau’ opens quietly with bird sounds and has some impressive acoustic guitar work but gives no clue as to what’s to follow. By their own admission MacKenzie and Parry don’t write songs as such;” we jam and put the pieces together if they sound good”. ‘The Mill’ is an example of this approach as it gives every impression of just being several riffs put together to make a song. Which makes tracks like ‘Scarden Valley’ and ‘Extensive Knowledge’ all the more remarkable as they follow traditional song chording’s and structures, the latter piece bringing Rush very much to mind.

‘Kipling Forest’ opens with a brutal riff and the song fluctuates between mellow and intense and ends in what appears to be a jam. ‘Mandating our Perception’ is a piano-led instrumental before a celestial choir comes in, and ends with someone whispering “your.. time.. is .. up”. ‘The Rosedale’ is an almost standard rock track, played over a recurring guitar riff and gets heavier as it progresses, with throat-shredding screams, though the vocals sound too far back in the mix. ‘Sawbreaker’ and ‘Solar Gift’ are two long tracks that run to over twenty-two minutes, but both contain some exceptional playing alongside jarring melodies and jerky stop-start, occasionally insane, high octave playing, and there’s so much going on in both songs it’s almost intimidating. Quite how they’ll reproduce some of these songs on stage will be intriguing to witness. But, where they go from here will be the more interesting question as with this album, they’ve set the bar high for whatever they do next.

Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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