National Diet is a music project formed by self-confessed “Prog rock nerds” Jake Rose (Rainbow Face) and Conner Reilly (Mercury Tree, Rainbow Face, Nick Prol), their aim being to create songs which are melodic and complex. The songs are written by Jake with drums and percussion composed by Conner; to up the creative interest, they have invited six guest bassist, one for each track, and they were invited to compose their own parts.
The six songs contained on the album take up a total playing time of just over forty-three minutes, with production handled by Colin Doherty and Jake, with drums engineered by Colin Doherty and Dominique Reveneau at Quartertone Recording in Portland Oregon. The striking album art was provided by Vhilo H Persson.
It is clear from first listen that these guys love the prog sounds that we all do; there are a ton of influences noticeable within their music, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Pink Floyd to name but a few. But what is most interesting is that I feel that each listener will hear different influences from the ones I have listed, and I believe that there are many more to hear. That said, this is not just a “copy cat” style of music, they have managed to craft a unique sound for themselves. The influences have forged songs with an experimental, progressive, math rock feel with so much to hear and enjoy. Indeed, it has taken me several plays to take it all in, but there is certainly more to discover on each further listen. In fact, during a recent play through I noted that half-way through the final track the guitar had a noticeable Steve Howe vibe, but as I say, different listeners will hear different things.
It is a feature that these songs provide power and complexity alongside melodic runs, switching effortlessly between these different elements, often at a moment’s notice. These are carefully constructed and well written songs, all of which appear to have taken the lessons of the past and forged a way forward to keep the Progressive Rock flags flying, and fresh.
Things kick off at a furious pace for the first minute of The Map is the Territory before settling to introduce the vocals. The song continues to be intercut with short and powerful bursts, but in the main it is much more melodic than its start. There are washes of keyboards to drive the melody but also added touches of brass toward the end which adds another dimension.
This theme of using melodic and powerful expressions continues throughout the album, with other elements added to help creates a twisting and turning journey for each song. I Am Food is a great example of this, with jazz touches from saxophone infiltrating the more furious moments. This links in so well, and it appears that these chaps know how to construct interesting musical journeys, giving the impression of it all being so effortless, which we all know it is not. Another interesting feature is the individually composed bass parts by the guest players. This again adds an extra dimension and variety to the sound and rhythm and we get the unique stamp of the individual bass players on each track.
There is so much to enjoy within this album, as there are a lot of great ideas packed into these songs. This is a masterful example of excellent musicianship with powerful performances, using challenging ideas within clever and precise compositions. For me a thoroughly enjoyable listen, let us hope they can follow it up with the same energy and enthusiasm. Well worthy of investigation.
01. The Map is the Territory (5:13)
02. I Am Food (6:04)
03. Plan (5:12)
04. Preserve the Past (8:31)
05. The Queen (6:36)
06. Addled Dreams of Youth (11:33)
Total Time – 43:12
Jake Rose – Vocals, Guitar, Ensoniq ESQ-1, Behringer Model D, Mandolin (track 4), Percussion, Panic (track 5), Theremin (track 6)
Conner Reilly – Drums & Percussion
J.D. Davis (of Gordon Stare) – Bass (track 1)
Oliver Campbell (of Mercury Tree) – Bass (track 2)
Damon Flick – Bass (track 3)
Ben Spees (of Mercury Tree, Ventifacts) – Bass (track 4)
Justin Stimson (of Nasalrod) – Bass (track 5)
Anthony Medici (of Liquid Light) – Bass (track 6)
Geoffrey McManus – Trumpet (track 1)
Estafina Tapia – Alto Saxophone (track 1)
Nicole McCabe – Alto Saxophone (track 2)
Tricia Bogden – Viola (track 4)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 26th April 2022