Since their formation in New Jersey by brothers Bill and Rich Berends in 1986 the band have become synonymous with delivering original sounding progressive rock with diverse arrangements and room for a healthy dose of experimentation. Once again the instrumentation is strong, Bill Berends guitar transcends numerous genres and combines with the keyboard interplay of Jens Johansson for a musically interesting package.
'Insomnia' is the band’s seventh album and marks the album debut of vocalist Tracy McShane. The tracks have been built around McShane’s powerful vocals and focus more on songs as opposed to over the top instrumental play of previous releases. As a result 'Insomnia' is arguably the most accessible Mastermind album to date - yet a progression over the bands career can be heard continuing on “Insomnia” along with the elements considered to be Mastermind trademarks.
Bill Berends comments, “I don't want to keep writing the same symphony over & over again, so this seventh effort features a different approach and a different diva than the previous work. Basically we want to try new things stylistically and make a good album that would reach beyond the boundaries of progressive rock in the traditional sense. We started to move in that direction with "Angels", so "Insomnia" is something of an extension of that thinking. People tend to judge you on your last work, but what they don't seem to realize is trying something new doesn't negate our entire history, it just adds to it. We released two tracks from "Insomnia" on our own as the "Broken" EP single in 2005 and they were extremely well received, but it took some time to find a label that could see the potential since we don't sound like everyone else. We had several offers, but nothing I thought would really be to our benefit until we connected with Lion Music.”
Lyrically the album focuses on observations and reflections from everyday life experiences that might drive one to sleeplessness. Bill Berends continues, “I lost a lot of sleep during the time spent making this album. The title came about after the recording was well under way, it just seemed appropriate. However, in another sense it is definitely a complete work that is best appreciated by listening to the entire album straight through. Certainly you can pick out individual songs to feature, and they do stand on their own, but I don't think you will "get it" until you hear the whole album in its entirety. In that respect it is a very big work, and perhaps that might be the 'progressive' element to it”.
Mastermind are a band happy to follow their own sound and have built a worldwide fan base which appreciates this outlook.