Minus the Bear

Planet of Ice (Suicide Squeeze Records)

In all the hoopla over the influence of '60s and '70s art rock on some of today's most interesting bands, one salient fact is frequently overlooked: A lot of that stuff blew. For every Roxy Music and King Crimson, there was a Yes or an Emerson, Lake & Palmer (plus two or three even more tedious acts). Then again, the best current prog-inspired groups aren't simply mimicking masturbatory music from the past, stroke for stroke. Instead, the likes of Minus the Bear use it to stretch a variety of other forms into consistently captivating shapes.

Planet of Ice finds the Seattle five-piece making the smoothest conceivable lineup transition: New keyboardist Alex Rose operates under the supervision of his predecessor, Matt Bayles, who co-produced the disc with Chris Common. As a result, the players exude confidence throughout tracks such as "Ice Monster"—a virtual mini-medley that shifts from style to style with undeniable logic—and "Double Vision Quest," whose aggression does nothing to quell its beauty.

That's the right way to put art into rock, and vice-versa.

 
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