April 6, 2011

White Orange – And This Is Why I Speak To You In Parables 12″

White Orange
…And This Is Why I Speak To You In Parables 12”
Made In China; 2011

The strength of this two-song 12” picture disc rests first in the formatting and then in its high production quality. Notice that I didn’t say quantity, as this project is truly a study in restraint, especially when compared to the endless noodling of most psych-prog bands. What White Orange brings to the table is the sort of epic, ‘70s-influenced blues rock that fans of Deep Purple and Mastodon will certainly enjoy, but they have done so with great focus and artistic integrity. Specifically, the group has brought its impressive talent to bear on both the music and the packaging for this slab of wax. …And This Is Why I Speak To You In Parables is recorded to heavy-duty 180-gram vinyl, and is then festooned with intricate artwork on both sides of the record that is enchantingly creepy and trippy, complete with the sort of pagan-inspired imagery that is a deliberate homage to the group’s stylistic forebears.

While the A-side does clock in at just over thirteen minutes, as my friend Bob Ham declares, it’s a journey that’s well worth your efforts. A singularly strong riff anchors this glorious stomp of a track, and it allows the lead guitar to wail and explore scales at length, while providing the melodic space for the bass and drums to work their own magic.

The B-side, entitled “Middle Of The Riddle,” is a five-minute, truncated version of the A-side, as it boils down the extended version down to its primal, rocking essence. The extraneous filler – the vocal samples, lengthy intro passage, and the spacier sections – have been removed, and what remains is a relatively lean prog rock track that would probably have been very well received on radio stations back in the ‘70s.

Yet, for all of the musical majesty on display, I found myself smiling every time the song’s lyrical tagline – “Sometimes less is more” – was sung. Indeed, White Orange has presented a cogent case for the power of the vinyl single: give me your best song, and give it to me in a format where I can listen to it over and over again to maximum effect. While I am curious as to how this song will fit into the large picture that is the band’s upcoming 2011 full-length, …And This Is Why I Speak To You In Parables presents a booming song that serves as a welcome introduction to anyone interested in the misunderstood genre that is prog rock.

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