Wow…! I mean, WOW! Los Angeles-based Coevality have announced their arrival with an absolutely stunning debut album. So impressed with Multiple Personalities, I will go on record now and say 2021 will be a truly spectacular year indeed if this album were not to appear in my TPA top 5 in the end of year poll malarky. A bold opening statement, but one that reflects the sheer quality of this album.
Musically beyond analysis, I mean, there’s so much going on here, sneeze and you’ll likely miss something phenomenal. Coevality expel more ideas in a few bars than many achieve on an entire album. Multiple Personalities is a fascinating mélange of ever evolving and endlessly interweaving parts, which they somehow manage to coalesce into a cohesive form. In previous reviews I’ve mentioned the ‘smile factor’ – the visible outcome of when a piece of music, which so impresses, causes the facial muscles to rise. Well a couple of minutes into Light Bikes, the album’s opening tune, and I had a grin from one ear to the other.
Let’s stay on the Light Bikes for a moment and what do you hear? Lively, vibrant, thematic melodies, delivered at a breakneck tempo with wonderfully intertwining instrumentation, chock full of metric ambiguities and performed with great precision and a wonderful empathy.
The temptation to press the replay button was very strong, however the curiosity to hear how the guys were going to follow this up won the battle. Wisely the tempo and the intensity is taken down for Cryptic Creek, however the level of complexity is just channelled more subtly…
Multiple Personalities, according to the band, “… is a 7 song instrumental concept album, that functions as one complete piece from front to back”. I’m more than happy to concur with this, and although each track more than stands up on its own merit, as a continuous listen you do get a greater appreciation of where the album’s title comes from and the overall concept. The band also reveal that it took them ten years of writing and multiple line-up changes to end up with the album under review here. I feel sure that this must have caused great frustration along the way. All I can say is those ten years were well spent, and the final line-up is the right one.
If we take it as written that each member of the band, Jon Reicher (guitars), Derrick Elliott (basses) and Andy Prado (drums), display a comprehensive knowledge and skill of their respective instruments, then on paper what we have is a power trio. However I’ve resisted calling Coevality a power trio initially, as it tends to evoke a ‘type’, and although there are three of them and they produce a powerful sound, it’s a sound you are unlikely to have come across often, if ever. Interestingly, they refer to themselves as a ‘progressive rock’ trio, something they engage in in the truest sense, as not only does the music rock, it’s progressing…
Not only does the music rock on Multiple Personalities it’s incredibly multifaceted, so much so that you could be engrossed in a particularly absorbing passage, only to have your attention challenged by an equally fascinating part creeping in behind. Now this may be deemed as distraction, but so strong is the empathy between these guys that it works to their advantage.
At this point, let’s look at some of the variety of sounds, moods and textural subtleties employed across the album that lift Multiple Personalities even further. Again, let us return to the album’s opener and nestled away in the background are some (midi) programmed sounds that drift in and out of the mix, adding strength and depth. Or perhaps we take a look at the arrangement on the album’s centrepiece, Carnival Minivan. Jon Reicher also plays trumpet, which he skilfully incorporates within the thoughtful strings and muted brass. And as we traverse the album, there are numerous subtle examples to be discovered and enjoyed. Equally skilful is the absolutely stunning Oceania, one of those tracks that so seldom dwells on any one ‘personality’, flirting between fusion, jazz, rock and a few genres in between.
But for all its complexity the music remains sweet, accessible and just a joy to listen to. As I mentioned earlier, there’s so much going on here that even after maybe twenty or so plays I’m still discovering new elements. So, I thought I’d share just a few extracts taken from my fairly extensive notes for this review:
Light Bikes: ‘Wow, these guys are pushing the envelope, highly entertaining, great bass…’
Cryptic Creek: ‘…so that’s how you follow a kick-ass opener… Love those clean guitar parts…’
MDP: ‘…liking the Eastern vibe from the bass.’ And towards the end of the track – ‘how sweet is that guitar and how on fire is that rhythm section? ‘Wow, listen to Derrick Elliott tearing up the fretless fingerboard.’
Coin Incidents: ‘liking the jazzier vibe here … checkout that almost Mellotron sounding part … nice “synthy” interlude’.
Stone Among Pebbles: ‘loving that groove’. If you’ve ever pondered if it is possible to groove within ever-shifting time signatures, well with this rhythm section the answer is YES.’ ‘…now where’s this going? 😉
There’s reams more, but I’m sure you get the gist…
In conclusion there’s never a dull moment on Multiple Personalities and it has to be said that Jon Reicher, Derrick Elliott and Andy Prado have created a stupendous album and one I shall return to (very) often…
01. Light Bikes (5:24)
02. Cryptic Creek (5:32)
03. Oceania (8:17)
04. Carnival Minivan (10:04)
05. MPD (8:03)
06. Coin Incidents (5:34)
07. Stone Among Pebbles (10:19)
Total Time – 53:13
Jon Reicher – 7-string Guitar, Fretless Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Trumpet, Midi Programming
Derrick Elliott – 6-string Fretless Bass, 5-string Bass, Cello, Upright Bass, Chimes, Midi Programming
Andy Prado – Drums
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 9th April 2021
Coevality – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube