The second full-length album by American Progressive Rock band.
Presto Ballet was formed by guitarist/keyboardist Kurdt Vanderhoof, former mastermind of Thrash Metal legend Metal Church.
It's not a Prog-Metal band, as sometimes assumed, but rather a straight-up Prog-Rock band in the classic '70s Symphonic style. While Vanderhoof's guitars occasionally adopt a thick, distorted tone, things never cross into overt Metal territory. Instead, "The Lost Art Of Time Travel" is full of rich organ swoops, fat analog synth tones, pure melodic vocals, and ambitiously arranged (sometimes epic) song structures.
Everything on here comes across as a wholehearted attempt at a vintage sound. The keyboard tracks are all 100% analog, the organ sounds are produced with a real Hammond, and the recording is completely free of digital manipulation. What results is something that walks a fine line between the hard edged yet heavily technical work of Rush, the light-heartedness of Styx, the outer space feel of Yes, and the catchy choral work of Genesis. The vocal work has the typically powerful tenor range, emulating Dennis DeYoung (Styx) and Steve Walsh (Kansas) quite effectively, but mostly comes off similar to Phil Mogg (UFO). The only area where the authentic 70s sound doesn’t fully hold up is the guitar sounds, which are a little too hard edged and punchy to have been done by any of said bands during their time of greatest prominence.
One thing that can be stated in the absolute affirmative about this outfit is that there is no intention of attaining radio play with these songs. One gander at the lengths of these songs alone brings back memories of times when artists like Iron Butterfly would drag out a song for seemingly endless stretches of time, while putting in really artsy and off-the-cuff ideas at the center of it all to throw the listener for a loop. Presto Ballet doesn’t go quite that far, but one listening to “One Tragedy At A Time” will probably fly right over the head of most non-Progressive Metal fans as it has a ton of ideas thrown in, from catchy vocal harmonized sections to Rush inspired scale based turn-around sections. The riff construction definitely reaches back to pre-NWOBHM days, although occasionally on “The Mind Machine” the band employs double bass work that almost reaches to Motörhead and Riot speeds.
The sad truth is, however, that albums like these are geared towards a pretty narrow audience. This is probably why Vanderhoof and company recorded and released this album independently, as few albums get very far in the Rock arena without radio play as a promotional ploy. But that is a big part of its charm, despite being an overt throwback; it is completely removed from any of the horrid nonsense passing for 70s inspired Rock that does enjoy radio play in recent times.
Do you like Rush, Yes, Kansas, UFO, Styx and late 70's Black Sabbath? If so, it is recommended that you check this out!!
ProgRock Records/Body Of Work Recordings/SPV GmbH, 2008 (PRR560 / SPV 452612 CD).
1. The Mind Machine 10:50
2. Thieves 9:04
3. You're Alive 4:24
4. One Tragedy At A Time 14:00
5. I'm Not Blind 6:16
6. Easy Tomorrow 6:30
7. Haze 9:28
Total playing time: 60:32