The music of Michael Marquart is a walk through images, presented to the listener in symbolic dreams. Historically, he has been the understated writer for many ground breaking music projects, and a drummer for A Flock of Seagulls. Recorded in Marquart's revamped Windmark Recording studios, and mixed by Jason Elgin (Creed, Collective Soul), his newest release, via band name A BAD THINK, is simultaneously sparse and dense. Progressive and current, Marquart lends his creativity to the score of it with vocals, drums, bass, guitar and keys. The layers are viewed by Ralph (voodoo man) Bruner's guitar and mandolin, with ethereal textures added through the vocals of Samantha Marq. Finally, additional guitars underline the edges by Mark Woerpel.
A BAD THINK: Sleep
Album Review/Track By Track:
Don't Leave Me Out
The muted double vocal fusions are a throwback to the Beatles' psychedelic tones with the breaking into clearings reminding me of an updated Peter Gabriel "UP" lens. The British seem to have it cornered to eclipse our ears to modern, timeless mixes.
There was one problem in reviewing this record: I had to come up with multiple words to use the phrase 'cinematic'. Samantha Marq offers contemporary harmonies with the dysthymic back stories that, in turn, offer some sense of hopeful progressions.
We All Fall
A straightforward take on experience and validation. Guitar work is stronger here with crashing cymbals to highlight the ups and downs of life.
Happy Little Pills
Marquart's voice is subdued and muffled, as it underlines the disappointments that lead to the search for contentment. It doesn't come in an instant. "Learning how to heal, learning how to feel like, I belong, so where do you find those happy little pills?"
A vintage china doll on a jewel box comes to mind when listening to this song. Porcelain and fragile, the image painted in the music, revolves.
On and On
Well placed cymbals and monotone vocals quip philosophies about beliefs and ghosts, continuing the archetypal dream state. The background instrumentation soars with meditative hooks. Guitar pieces come in with stylish elegance. The whole song is framed with skillful repetition that expands with every round.
One Fine Day
'When will you see yourself as I do?"
This is a message of love and self-protection, delivered to a dear one who continues to be drawn to harm. Moth to flame. It's complicated, but stated so simply here, perhaps it can be achieved.
"Someday we won't hate ourselves, that will be one fine day."
Hard edge metal explodes in the guitar work to show off experienced production. To me, that was the interesting sound of Collective Soul. This entire album is best played in settings that have a large expanse. The songs need to stretch out and find their way to the edges of the landscape - and beyond.
One Against Another
All out rock is the impact. Marquart's voice is familiar and smooth, a great contrast to the full on guitar and drum work.
Where Do I Go From Here
Acoustics lead to a double vocal from Marquart and this song floats, with layers of energy and changing sound scapes. This seems very much like progressive rock, with the guitar in the lead pressing on. I kept listening for a Collective Soul or Creed influence in this song because of Elgin's mixing, but actually this track, with its extended vocals and shifting phrases, reminded me again, of something Peter Gabriel might do in his obscure recordings- and that's a good thing.
The title track has been called a masterpiece by some. The piano and strings are lovely, regal and well produced. Intricately placed bells and gentle percussion make the song sparkle with life. It's the highlight of the album, as expected in a signature song.
The album closes with a storied narrative about isolation and freedom. I wondered if the title referenced the 1969 film of the same name, which documented four Bible salesmen traveling across New England and Florida who eventually have a meeting in Chicago. Time and its consequences can rarely be calculated, because the equation itself is being designed with every second.
"Never look back, just keep moving on, all we needed was time ... though we never knew the price, though we never knew the cost ..." ~ Michael Marquart, A BAD THINK.