Canvas is a recording project formed by Matt Sweitzer and Chris Cobel. Their current release "Digital Pigeon" debuted in March of 2007. File under "Progressive Power Pop"! Digital Pigeon features 14 tunes, 3 of which are instrumentals, a Saga cover and a Weather Report cover, and a fantastic group of players.
See what some are saying....
"Digital Pigeon is the second release from the studio project progressive band Canvas, the brainchild of USA Keyboardist Chris Cobel and guitarist Matt Sweitzer. As usual, they have assembled a very competent cast of supporting artists, creating a top notch production of well crafted progressive pop gems.
Canvas picks up musically where The Alan Parsons Project left off in 1980 with "Turn of a Friendly Card". In some ways, that comparison is unfair, because this CD features much more aggressive bass, guitar and keyboard interplay than one would expect from APP. (Perhaps Camel is a better reference point?)
Even so, the similarities to APP are too numerous to ignore. The impeccable engineering (for an indie release!!!)... the hook-laden laid-back approach to progressive rock story-telling... The enigmatic lack of a touring calendar... ;-)
Digital Pigeon represents a step forward for the band in that it is simultaneously more focused and more adventurous than their double CD debut "Avenues". With a single CD (rather than a double) only the strongest songs made the cut this time. The Canvas sound is augmented by occassional dashes of smoking brass lines to counterbalance the already sizzling flute, subtle keys, soaring guitars and jazzy bass guitar.
If light, subtle, intelligent and catchy Progressive Rock is your cup of tea... Digital Pigeon is a wonderful side dish to add to any platter of Monday (morning or afternoon) Progressive Rock listening!"
Mark Stephens-Prog Positivity
This is an album I have enjoyed listening to from beginning to end. I had never heard of Canvas before I received Digital Pigeon but it was a nice surprise.
Sure the music on Digital Pigeon is more nostalgic than modern. The band that comes to my mind for most of the tracks is the seventies incantation of Camel. At times The Alan Parson's Project could also be mentioned as a reference, but I feel that Camel enthusiasts could really get into Digital Pigeon.
Like I wrote in the beginning of my review, all the tracks on Digital Pigeon are good, well performed and produced. The music is nostalgic but remains original. These guys are not copy cats. Some nice, intelligent, well written and composed music indeed. Recommended.
The very first time I heard this album there was only one other band I could think of : Steely Dan. Not that the Canvas music comes close to the Fagen and Becker tunes but if I want to handle a certain quality norm based on production, arrangements as well as compositional skills for sure this is brilliant material which gets high marks just like the wonderful, sublime Steely Dan.
Contrary to a lot of prog bands, Canvas blends it’s arrangements towards a more accessible endresult immediately scraping all unnecessary solo’s from it’s list. In fact every input is so well balanced it pushes you to the extreme edge of your seat as you get that curious to hear what direction the music is heading. In a way the atmosphere could be described as being a symphonic Umphrey’s McGee should this make any sense. A song like ‘The spectacle’ improvises quite a bit based around a bluesy approach. By adding trumpets to some of their songs, Canvas is able to package their songs into a semi Chuck Mangione feel as they do with the laidback funky ‘Spiders’. The humming voices in the intro and outro of ‘Ghost town’ contain a certain zaniness which we also find in some Focus tracks.
To make it even more diverse and difficult to mark, ‘Armchair voyager’ adds this semi-disco like drum pattern over which some super fast fusion guitar melts. ‘Catwalk’ is a catchy powerful statement in which blistering guitar tries to overtake the jazzy trumpets. Tasty keyboards and guitar mingle in ‘Funk shui’ like raindrops which attack your window-pane. Pitty the main colour of Greg Lounsberry’s voice is a little low as CSNY-type vocal harmonies would have done wonders for ‘Lost in transit’ whose mainly acoustic approach switches towards kind of a Happy the Man setting once synths are in play.
The experimental nature of the Canvas spectrum comes in sight towards the end of the album with ‘Teen town’ mainly emphasizing on the bass guitar which gets free reign here. All of the band’s skills are condensed in the final track on the album ‘Move the earth’ which delivers rhythmic patterns as well as more vintage prog oriented sidesteps based around the organ.
It’s hard to describe “Digital pigeon” under one label as the main quality of Canvas is the diversity. Diversity both in the department of composition and arrangement but also what the choice of instruments is concerned. As far as I know Canvas simply delivers Canvas music.
John 'Bo Bo' Bollenberg
Review by Gary Hill
This studio outfit has released its second CD in Digital Pigeon. A killer piece of music this one features great hooks in strong prog rock arrangements. While I’ve heard comparisons to Alan Parsons on this (and those are at times warranted), this is in no way limited to the sounds of one group or genre. A lot of the music reminds me of Echolyn, but you are likely to hear Chicago, Yes and even some definite fusion and pure jazz in the mix. It’s a strong release that should please both fans of modern progressive rock and those who like their tunes more in keeping with the traditional prog of the 1970’s.
Track by Track Review
Dark Side Of The Sun
We get a bass beat that brings in drama and a sense that something great is about to happen. This builds gradually until keyboards signal a shift towards more melodic, ala Alan Parsons Project. It moves out into the song proper, a harder rocking prog motif for the verse. They stay pretty close to this territory for quite a while, but we do get a tasty guitar solo mid-song. As they move out to a more open arrangement, with an almost reggae-like guitar sound, it feels more like neo-prog. The chorus on this, “we’ve made a special place for you / prepared for everyone,” seems to be unsettling in a way. It’s a cool track and a nice way to lead things off.
The moody, acoustic guitar based motif that starts this feels quite a bit like Pink Floyd. We get wisps of instrumentation that seem to move it in other directions, but the overall mode remains consistent. They flirt with some other musical concepts and move out into a more full arrangement for an instrumental passage. Flute brings in comparisons to Jethro Tull. They work through this for a time and then drop it back down to the early segment to continue. This builds for a time, becoming more Floyd-like. Then it explodes out into a faster paced instrumental motif with keyboard solo that reminds me a bit of Yes. Flute once more brings in the Tull-oriented sounds as they continue onward. It eventually drops back to the song proper, but it’s far less Floyd-influenced at that point, feeling more like any number of moody neo-prog outfits. A retro keyboard element brings those Floyd-leanings back and a tasty guitar solo adds to the illusion. Flute returns on this extended jam that’s rather jazzy. The guitar soloing really calls to mind David Gilmour quite and a bit and the keys at times have Rick Wright’s signature all over them. We get more Tull with another flute solo before they end.
This comes in feeling like Alan Parsons project, but then shifts out into a full jazz arrangement ala Chicago. After they finish with the faster paced, more rocking motif it drops way back to an even fuller jazz sound. They rock out a bit from there. As it turns more dramatic in a retrospective and sedate way we get more Alan Parsons sounds, but this once more gives way to more jazz textures. The cut seems to alternate between these two motifs with varying instruments taking the lead here and there. This instrumental is dramatic and powerful and also a great change of pace.
Dramatic, but still mellow, sounds bring this in. It again feels a bit like Alan Parson. When they shift it out to the song proper I’m reminded of Echolyn. This has a very catchy chorus that seems to combine Parsons and Echolyn. This is one of the cooler pieces on show here. The guitar solo on this one at times reminds me of Pink Floyd and at other points it feels like a melodic metal band.
In many ways this is an open, fast paced fusion number. It has a definite smooth jazz approach to it. We get some killer horn work that calls to mind the jazz greats. Some “whacka whacka” guitar brings in a retro texture. This is another highlight of the CD and a nice change of pace.
A Reptile Dysfunction
With a bit of a funky texture, this track comes in feeling very much like Yes and other prog bands of that ilk. When they drop it to the song proper I’m once again reminded of Echolyn. They take it down to a more stripped down approach, still in that Echolyn mode after a time. We get a burst of prog jamming to bring in the Yes leanings again later. These alternating stylistic approaches serve to create the bulk of this track. A more modern sound makes up the vocal based segments while we get retro prog from the instrumental movements that occur throughout. This ends in a jarringly abrupt way.
The sedate motif on this one calls to mind a more jazzy sort of prog/fusion style. The flute gives one minor impressions of Jethro Tull. When they shift out to the fusionish, retro sounding verse section it’s quite cool. This becomes much more of pure melodic prog ballad. We get a rock and roll styled guitar solo and some killer emotional delivery on the vocals here. It’s a good track, but not one of my favorites.
I hear more of the jazzy prog stylings from the 1970’s here. Chicago comes to mind on this one, too. The keyboard dominated sections that come and go bring more pure progressive rock textures and the expansive jam calls to mind neo prog quite a bit. They throw a killer arena rock instrumental segment in later.
On Second Thought
This instrumental wanders the fertile ground between ELP, Yes and Alan Parsons with a little Pink Floyd thrown into the mix. They also manage a nod or two to Chicago on this one.
With a killer fusion meets hard rock approach this has a bit of Survivor vibe, but combined with more definite progressive rock leanings. The Alan Parsons comparisons are somewhat valid here, but this thing really rocks out. It’s a standout track.
Here we get a bouncy, mellow ballad-like number. While the title would make you think we’d have a lot of funk here, it’s not really the case. This is a pretty piece of music that’s rather restful. Don’t get me wrong there is a little funk here, but its not overpowering or dominant. We get some more Chicago stylings on the outro.
Lost In Transit
This has the most unusual air of familiarity, like you’ve heard it a million times before. A bouncy, balladic prog cut, this is so catchy it’s scary. It seriously had me checking the credits to see if it was a cover. We get a cool classic prog instrumental section on the cut.
Pure jazz leads this off and then it shifts to a classic fusion groove. The instrumental number is pretty much pure fusion.
Move The Earth
This cut does a great job of marrying all of the elements we’ve seen throughout into one cohesive piece of music. We get the thoughtful neo-prog ballad, the harder rocking progressive rock and the jazzy sounds all rolled into one ever changing motif. This has some decidedly soulful vocals and some killer instrumental movements. It’s a great way to tie things all together and end it on a high note.