Leave it to me to agree to review one of the most challenging groups out there for my first official album review. Married couple Corinne & Reto Bachman’s project COREIGN falls into a category of experimental progressive orchestral rock that is unique to the European continent. Add on to this the fact that the album was completely self-produced from beginning to end, and you find a project of huge scope. And while some may point to the production quality when trying to rate or rank this album (something the band acknowledges as a goal to constantly improve upon), it is the quality and complexity of the music itself that draws the listener in.
“Equality” is the third 2016 release for COREIGN, following the previously released “Sphere” and “Affinity”. As with any release by COREIGN, the listener is challenged to follow a highly complex and unconventional path through each song, with each song standing on its own individual merits. The moods and styles change from one song to the next, and the use of multiple layers of sound, intriguing counter melodies and unique harmonic movement take the listener on a musical journey with surprises around every corner.
The duo of Corinne and Reto draw on their love of groups such as Within Temptation, Led Zeppelin and UFO, and build on this foundation a menagerie of true avant-garde delight. From “Biker Girl”, which harkens back to the era of vintage Yes and King Crimson, to the more complex “Desperation”, which challenges the ear with unexpected cadence and harmonic movement, the entire album showcases a form of music that constantly defies categories.
I should take a moment to mention the technical production of the album, which some may categorize as ‘raw’ or ‘rough’. The mix presented on the album is very much by design. In the duo’s own words, “Using few correction and re-recording, their songs keep a very vivid and live-sounding character that prefers the authentic, direct, raw and pure sounding over the nowadays over-corrected and over-produced.” I can appreciate the approach, and it does result in a very non-commercial, in the moment kind of feel. A perfect example of the music taking precedent over everything else.
This form of music is not meant for the casual music listener, but instead requires a selective ear to appreciate not only the complexity of each song, but the use of non-traditional harmonies and voicings in each song. In other words, this is not the stuff of American pop radio. But, if you are willing to go on a wild and fantastic musical journey, this album is worth the price of admission. COREIGN is promising a new release, “Lucidity”, in the coming months, which should continue to expand on the groundwork laid out here and give us even more reason to listen to this ‘outside the box’ group.
“Equality” is available on iTunes, Amazon and iGroove.