Though I sometimes fail to believe it, there is still progressive music being produced nowadays of the same quality as in the 70s when prog had its heyday. You just need to know where to look; the search can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack, or a lyric that makes any sense in a Jon Anderson song. Fortunately, there are websites like The Progressive Aspect to help you find that plateau of awesomeness which is so difficult to find; I can point you in the right direction by simply saying the name Humble Grumble.
Released on the Italian AltrOck label – a bastion of quality in today’s age if there ever was – this is the fourth album from the quirky Belgian artist Gabor Humble, and his second on this particular label. His music could be most safely described as Canterbury Scene, but with 21st Century sensibilities. In each song he weaves eccentric humour in either lyrical or musical form whilst all the time retaining that quintessentially Canterbury flavour, defined by light yet complex melodies.
Unlike previous artists though, Humble Grumble will show no restraint in their lyrical subject matter. Skip straight to Skunks which features the words ‘piss’, ‘crap’, ‘fart’ and ‘nipples’ all in a steamy tale of downright dirty love. Mothers, shelter your children! Other times, the band can be a little more twee, as in the song The Little Man which tells a bizarre Gabriel-era Genesis-like story of a little man and his connection to the words “garden hose”. And then the band will get completely surreal as in the rap section of Accidentally in San Sebastian:
“Sting on the bee and steam on the tea,
Drink the beer before you go for a wee,
The roof is leaking, floor’s covered in slime,
To hear the tape again you need to rewind!”
All this would mean nothing if the music itself weren’t so damned good. Each track seems to offer something new and different, while staying uniquely Humble Grumble. Even within tracks, there will be many dramatic shifts; in Accidentally in San Sebastian I count at least four different sections in about as many minutes. From the light but complex sensibilities of Kurt’s Casino right through to the dark heavy 5/4 riffing of Skunks, you’ll find something to quench your prog thirst here. With seven tracks in total, there truly is a song here for each day of the week!
This is an album I could probably spill many words over, but ultimately I feel it’s best if I shut up and leave the rest for your ears to discover. What I will say to conclude is that Humble Grumble is one of those rare bands that have a clear vision of what they want their music to sound like and know exactly what resources to use to achieve that vision. The results are simply breathtaking.
01. Kurt’s Casino (9:53)
02. The Little Man(3:54)
03. Accidentally in San Sebastian (4:22)
04. The Campfire Strikes Back (4:39)
05. The Dancing Dinosaur (10:29)
06. Skunks (5:03)
07. Pate a Tartiner (6:07)
Total Time – 44:25
Gabor Humble: guitar, vocals
Megan Quill: vocals
Liesbeth Verlaet: vocals
Jouni Isoherranen: bass, keyboards
Jonathan Callens: drums
Pol Mareen: saxophone
Pedro Guridi: bass clarinet
Joren Cautaers: vibraphone, percussion
Record Label: AltrOck Productions
Year Of Release: 2013
Guzzle It Up! (2013)
Flanders Fields (2011)
The Face Of Humble Grumble (2008)
30 Years Kolinda (2005)