Tony Arnold | Ophidian Lullabies

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Rock: Avant-Prog Rock: Instrumental Rock Moods: Solo Male Artist
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Ophidian Lullabies

by Tony Arnold

A heady hybrid of melodic & progressive rock, country and electronica motifs. This is the revised, remastered edition.
Genre: Rock: Avant-Prog
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Precursor
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4:18 album only
2. Gwenhwyfar
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8:13 album only
3. Sunshine
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0:39 album only
4. Robert Emmet
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4:04 album only
5. That Still, Small Voice
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3:30 album only
6. Daddy's Ballad
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4:14 album only
7. Interregnum
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4:04 album only
8. Agendas
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5:39 album only
9. Indoctrination
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4:20 album only
10. Progression
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6:29 album only
11. The Cottonmouth Crawl
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10:45 album only
12. Hand Of Glory
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4:13 album only
13. Trois
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6:23 album only
14. The Gray Mortuary
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6:51 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Following his exit from Menage 'A Twang, Tony Arnold's first solo collection laid the template for his later projects The Pachinko Allahs, Macular Degenerates and Musaphonic, each of which expanded his signature style and paintbox of influences. Based in Athens, Georgia and heavily influenced by both his musical and literary backgrounds, Arnold has carved out a unique niche which melds his melodic sensibilities with the sui generis art-house approach that has become a Southern trademark. Musically adventurous and never straying far from his mischievous irony, Arnold allows the music to represent and guide him, rather than the ego-driven rock & roll lifestyle.
Matt Howarth of Sonic Curiosity writes: "This release from 2007 features 74 minutes of gripping rock music. With some exceptions, this is an album that explores various types of lyrical tunes. These gripping songs feature a conventional array of instruments: guitar, bass, keys, drums, and vocals. Listen close and you'll catch Arnold's dark take on topics like romance and purpose. Melancholia is warped with maudlin sentiments, then set to catchy melodies. The exceptions are the instrumental pieces, which flourish with sparkling beauty. These tracks generally rely on electronics (or keyboards) to achieve their attractive luster. There's a softness to these songs (a la lullabies), but that gentility is often flavored with a dash of prog spice, seasoning the pieces with an off-center attitude that is quite enchanting. And the tracks tend to muster puissance as they progress, getting snappier and stronger.


Reviews


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Spider Byte

A jazzy, proggy, classy debut
With his solo cd, Tony Arnold deviates somewhat from his earlier stint with Menage ‘A Twang by invoking John Wetton on “Gwenhwyfar.” But first things get off to a slow, relaxing climax with the moody, evocative “Precursor,” before plunging headlong into angry math-rock on “The Cottonmouth Crawl," apparently an homage to early ELO. “Robert Emmet” is a long stroll through traditional Irish folk history, and with “Daddy’s Ballad” we’re into country-western via ELP. “Trois,” for me the high point of the entire disc, is pure sex music: jazzy and seductive. A few new additions to this remixed, remastered edition, including a cover of the mysterious Jimmy Silva tune "Hand of Glory" previously heard on The Smithereens' "Especially For You." A lot of classic rock references on this disc, more of which were to follow with his Pachinko Allahs, Macular Degenerates and Musaphonic releases. Tasty, funky stuff…I recommend.

Michael Diamond

A Musical Patchwork
If ever there was an album that “defies categorization”, Tony Arnold’s “Ophidian Lullabies” is one. It is a virtual patchwork of diverse styles, genres, and influences, blended in unexpected ways. The CD’s first piece, appropriately titled “Precursor”, opens with an ambient synthesizer arpeggio, eventually adding a background of strings and the sound of running water. It’s an instrumental dreamscape leaning towards the minimalist style of Philip Glass. The second track switches gears dramatically into a prog rocker with symphonic overtones. By prog (short for progressive) I’m referring to a style first popularized in the 70’s by groups like Emerson, Lake, & Plamer, Genesis, King Crimson, etc. The song rocks hard till about half way through when it downshifts into a more sparse instrumental section featuring guitar and bells, and echoes the melodic theme of the first section, adding instruments as it evolves.

On a tune called “Robert Emmet” the music provides another stylistic departure with an instrumental that has somewhat of an Irish or Celtic feel. The next track, “That Still Small Voice” offers an interesting juxtaposition in that it’s got an upbeat pop-inflected melody in contrast to the somewhat darker lyrics. Perhaps a term like “pop noir” would be appropriate. Tony who has a deep voice and a vocal style, which is sometimes half sung and half spoken seems influenced by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, or maybe Frank Zappa. This song is followed by “Daddy’s Ballad” which offers another mix of musical ingredients. Heavy fuzz-drenched guitars lay the foundation for a spoken word vocal with a country feel, while a new wave-like synth melody line dances over the top of it.

From there, the next tune reflects back to the kind of ambient soundscape heard on the opening piece. Track eight, “Agendas” has a distant melancholy feel that reminded me somewhat of the style of Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, and features a lush orchestral background. Moving along, the ninth song kicks off with a rolling drum groove followed by spoken word vocals with some very trippy electronic effects. This piece in particular gave me the reference to Zappa.

“Progression” which makes a grand cinematic entrance for the first minute or so morphs into a country-tinged pop tune, eventually building back to an orchestral climax. The longest track on the CD at almost eleven minutes, “The Cottonmouth Crawl” is perhaps the most musically adventurous. It features a foreboding synth intro blending with an Eastern-sounding instrument giving way to a driving drum rhythm and heavy multi-tracked guitars that harken back to the afore-mentioned prog rock. This instrumental leaves psychedelic trails as it winds its way through a variety of thematic permutations.

As will be obvious by now, if one is looking for an album to put on that sets a mood and doesn’t stray, this is not it. On the contrary, it is truly a genre-blending exercise in musical diversity.

Review posted by Michael Diamond at http://www.reviewyou.com/cdreviewblog/cd-review-writers/michael-diamond/