Pattern-Seeking Animals (humans who seek out patterns which may/may not exist) were originally put together as a recording project in 2019 by keyboard man John Boegenhold, a man highly regarded in prog rock circles as a songwriter and producer, but following on from the critically well-received reception given to their eponymous debut album, they’ve now released their second album and if not for the pandemic, would have been playing gigs across the USA by now.
They’re a four-piece band with a considerable prog pedigree .. three of the four ‘animals’ are members of the mighty Spock’s Beard and, joined by Boegenhold, who’s written and produced a lot of the Beard’s music, the aim was not to recreate what the musicians had previously done with Spock’s Beard but, rather, to start on a clean page and go wherever the muse took them. Prehensile Tales contains six songs, four being relatively short, eight minutes or less, with two others coming in at just over seventeen and twelve minutes respectively, with topics ranging from Vampires (‘Elegant Vampires’), second chances in life (‘Here in my Autumn’) to confronting your own mortality (‘Lifeboat’).
The music on this album is occasionally quite intricate, complex but without being too complicated and, being good prog rockers, there is plenty of key and time changes, but it’s always interesting and melodic. There’s no lengthy noodling for its own sake and no needlessly extended soloing, just well written and performed music from four guys who know their stuff. They’ve expanded their repertoire and, on this album, have added other instruments like Violin, Cello and Steel Guitar to the mix to give greater depth to their sound. All the tracks on the album, a collection of lush arrangements and infectious melodies, are of the highest standard but, to this writer, the standout tracks are the two lengthy pieces ..’ Lifeboat’ (17 mins) and ‘Soon but not Today’ (12 mins).
The success of playing any long track comes when the listener doesn’t realise just how long it is, being so engrossed in the music, meaning time just fades away, which is what happens here. Both tracks feature a host of different instruments, including a mournful Cello and Trumpet plus exceptional playing from four seasoned “progmeisters”, with Ted Leonard stamping his vocal prowess right across the album. The ‘Animals’ have succeeded in their quest not to be seen as a Spock’s Beard pastiche, and have shown again they are their own entity. Prehensile Tales is an album that will be lapped up by fans of Spock’s Beard as it contains all the proggy elements they’d expect to hear, but it’s also an album which has something to offer for those fans who just like good songs and well-played, intelligent music.