Album Reviews

Scarlet INside – The Room of MUndane THings

I found Scarlet INside a little over two years ago and was instantly drawn to the singularity of the sound.  When trying to decide which album to “cut my reviewing teeth on” for LO, I chose The Room of Mundane THings for its ability to stand out in a crowded row of CD’s on a store shelf without the need to scream at you.  There are bands that dabble in many areas of prog rock, but few are able to capture the essence of what prog really is.  Kevin Kennie is for the most part a one man band although performing live he does get a little help from his friends.   

The album’s title cut opens with a bass line that immediately draws you in and holds you captive much the way a cobra rising slowly as the charmer’s pungi hypnotizes ever so deliberately.  There are hints of Peter Gabriel lurking beneath the surface, entwined with subtle aromatics of Focus oddly enough.  Scarlet INside found its niche in the prog world and nurtured it in a way that would make Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart proud. 

Kevin has a way of bopping you over the head without ever making a physical move; his lyric style and composition are such that you feel changed after listening to his music.  Nothing bad or bizarre–but your eyes have been opened and music will never taste the same again.  Next up as I fall deeper into the abyss that is this Room of    MUndane THings, I discover an especially poignant track, Sally Learns.  Here  Kevin seems to project his inner King Crimson; he is Jamie Muir-like in his ability to bring forth music from inanimate objects and he is Robert Fripp-like with that guitar.  The vocals are a John Wetton/Adrian Belew concoction that can only be explained once heard…and man, is this song amazing!

While there is the ever-present dark cloud hanging over the piece, the sounds emanating from a child’s toys accompanied by the innocent laughter is as soothing as it is unsettling.  Kevin is quite the lyricist too; “Create the sound from silence/The harmony of the worlds/The perfection of a semitone/When it vibrates (right) down into the bone.”  All the while the background is filled with sounds designed to awe, frighten, amaze, and dare I say inspire.

Moving across the album randomly, a method I believe best serves music that takes to a label the way a cat takes to a bath, I drop the stylus on DEad PEople’s THings for SAle.  This piece immediately takes me to ELP’s Peter Gunn for some reason…and I am honestly not sure why.  Scarlet INside builds tension masterfully here, much the way Alfred Hitchcock did in his movies.  Kevin’s vocals haunt as they sit on top, riding the high hat like a warning flash at a nuclear power plant.  But the best part of this song is Kevin’s ability to take anything in the room and evoke exemplary sound from it.  He is to music what Robin Williams is to comedy; you don’t dare move lest you miss out…

Scarlet INside is the type of band I would have started when I was younger–if I had even a smidgen  of the talent Kevin has–not to mention the guts, desire, and drive required.  My favorite cut on the album is Sally Learns, but don’t be swayed that easily; you should play the entire album yourself a few times and make up your own mind…

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