Circadian Rhythm Disorder, released by Glenn Snelwar under the band name of At War With Self, is an unconventional concept album. Most progressive acts have a concept and then they fit music to it. Glenn Snelwar is the realiser not the conceptualizer. The original musical concept is actually Marco Minnemann’s. He calls it the Normalizer 2 project and he explains it well on the web site.
Other artists have also had a pop at this and the drum solo itself is carefully constructed using re-interpreted ideas from a talented bunch of musicians whose names I’m sure you will recognise. So the project goes like this: musicians gave Marco musical ideas, he mapped them out as drum parts and then segued them together into a 51 minute piece that he recorded in one take. That in itself is amazing. To re-interpret it as music, never having heard the original ideas is likely to give results that neither the contributors or the drummer could envisage. If somebody told me that they would be taking a drum solo that is the best part of an hour long and setting it to music I’d think that they were nuts. I’d also argue that it was nigh on impossible! But Glenn Snelwar re-interpreted it into a series of 24 short, instrumental tracks that blend together seamlessly to make one complete piece of work. Kudos.
Glenn must be one of the most patient and fastidious people to ever pick up an instrument and this is reflected in this meticulous piece of music. There is also amazing musicianship, soaring melodies and solos, proper heavy bits, tender bits, simple bits and complex bits.
I revelled in solos when I was younger. I also lived through the post-punk era and realised they weren’t always necessary. I’ve grown to appreciate them once more but even so I thought that a 51 minute drum solo would be self-indulgent and so the music based on it must be as well! The very nature of the project contradicts that assumption. Marco has been pretty selfless in making his work publically available, albeit for a fee. Whether you consider the results self-indulgent is up to you.
I am always reluctant to categorize music. My personal definition of Progressive Rock is something that is sometimes a challenging listen and pushes creative boundaries. So Circadian Rhythm Disorder is truly Progressive Rock. I also subject complex music to what I am calling the “Phil’s Dad Test”. It goes like this:-
Q. Would my Dad have liked it?
If “Yes”, then it is jazz. If “No”, then it is not jazz.
My Dad would have liked some of this.
So…Jazz-Rock? Progressive Rock? Progressive Metal? Maybe. That’s as close as I’m going to get to classifying this because I won’t do it justice. Glenn’s notes that accompany the release state that it represents four years of work. I don’t doubt it. This is the aural manifestation of a very technical mind expressing itself physically to the full extent of its ability. It isn’t background music. It is attention-seeking. That could refer to the drums or the music! As often as not the tracks seem to morph into rock riffs that are easy to follow and act almost as little islands of calm that allow you to take in what you just heard and process it. Then we’re off again into maybe a jazzy section or a quiet bit that shows off the expertly played polyrhythmic drums that Marco is rightly famous for.
I’m sure there will be many parts that you’ll find familiar. But you shouldn’t think of this as ‘prog’ by numbers or go looking for familiarity.
So is this album just for drummers? Definitely not! It is extremely musical. If you like original music that makes you listen to achieve a reward then I dare say you will like this.
01. Slate Wiper (3:26)
02. Seeds of Doubt (4:18)
03. Seeds of Love (3:46)
04. The Mirror (1:31)
05. Mirage (1:12)
06. Stumbling to Sleep (1:55)
07. Daydream (0:59)
08. This Is Not My Reflection (3:24)
09. Smash the Mirror (1:14)
10. Shards, Pt. One (3:20)
11. Shards, Pt. Two (2:16)
12. Shards, Pt. Three (0:55)
13. Nightmare (1:34)
14. Running from the Dream (1:58)
15. N.D.E. (1:08)
16. Tunnel of Light (The Road Back) (1:43)
17. Re-Birth (2:35)
18. First Breath (1:21)
19. New Life, Pt. One (2:23)
20. New Life, Pt. Two (2:18)
21. Slate Wiper, Pt. Two (0:52)
22. A Day’s Death (2:07)
23. Completion of the Cycle (2:51)
24. One and All (1:31)
Total Time: 50:37
Marco Minnemann – Drums
Glenn Snelwar – Other Instruments
Record Label: Independent
Year of Release: 2014
Website: Glenn Snelwar/At War With Self | Soundcloud
Facebook: At War With Self