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A History of Madness

Thinking Plague

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Album Review

If you thought prog rock and concept albums were a thing of the past, Thinking Plague is here to prove you wrong. And if you thought prog rock had to be terminally self-indulgent and concept albums a pretentious waste of time, they're here to prove you even more wrong. Sounding something like a Henry Cow for the digital age, on A History of Madness Thinking Plague lays down some of the most rhythmically complex, texturally inventive, and melodically challenging popular music of the last 30 years, and somehow makes it all sound easy and natural. The album's concept has something to do with the Albiginsian crusades of 13th century France, but you won't necessarily figure that out without recourse to the press materials. What you will notice are the almost dodecaphonic melodies on "Consolamentum" and the instrumental "Marching as to War, No. 1," as well as the jagged, Robert Fripp-ish guitar lines on "Lux Lucet" and the gypsy-Celtic swing of "Gúdamy le Máyagot (An Phocainn Theard Deig)." Also standing out are Deborah Perry's gentle but dead-on vocal virtuosity and some fine back-and-forth between accordionist Dave Willey and guest fiddler Jean Harrison. Very highly recommended, especially to fans of Henry Cow, the Art Bears, and Chris Cutler.

Biography

Formed: 1982

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The group of Colorado experimentalists known as Thinking Plague venture in adventurous, challenging, and sometimes knotty musical directions similar in many ways to the multi-genre explorations of European Rock in Opposition bands, although Plague members may sometimes be inclined to reject the RIO comparison. Led by guitarist and composer Mike Johnson (the sole bandmember who has been present on all the group's releases), Thinking Plague were initially formed in the early '80s by Johnson and bassist/drummer...
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