After the release of their 2011 album, Hammer and Anvil, Pure Reason Revolution (PRR) parted ways to engage in other musical ventures, but in 2019 the call went out and they reunited… or at least two of them did. The band is now down from five to a bare nucleus of only two members, Jon Courtney and Chloe Alper who, between them, play almost everything, with the occasional assistance of Geoff Dugmore on drums.
The result of this reuniting is Eupnea, their first new work in almost a decade, and it’s one fit to stand alongside their previous works. PRR are a kind of crossover prog/progressive rock band, supposedly comparable to bands like Porcupine Tree and, more recently, Anathema, bands who give their own twist to prog rock. On Eupnea, they’ve resolutely stood by their credo of no musical boundaries.
As Chloe says, there’re ferocious guitars, thunderous drums and the stacked harmonies which give the album their signature sound. The genesis of Eupnea (meaning ‘normal unobstructed breathing’) lies in the rollercoaster emotions experienced by parents at childbirth which, in this case, was brought about by the premature birth of Jon Courtney’s daughter, Jessie, at only 32 weeks. Her lungs had not fully formed and she was kept in an incubator for a few weeks to aid her breathing. The intro to opening track ‘New Obsession,’ mimics the beeps and buzzes of the hospital, with the lyrics highlighting parents’ feelings.
The other tracks on the album are, for the most part, rooted in the same subject matter. ‘Maelstrom’ revolves around a parent helplessly watching a child fight for survival but gradually pulling through. In ‘Beyond our Bodies,’ the message is the human body can overcome incredible challenges and come out the other side, highlighting the fragility of life. All through the album, the music is intense and powerful, the vocals resound and, for only two people, they make a big noise.
The return of PRR is not just another story about a band getting back together to cover old ground, a la Genesis 2020. This is more like a rebirth, with Jon and Chloe keeping everything they were previously known for while forging ahead with their credo. The result is Eupnea, and it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll perform this later in the year, with only two people, when they play the Prog Stage at the Ramblin man festival, currently slated for July.