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CD Review: Pilotdrift – Water Sphere

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Pilotdrift GroupTexarkana’s latest export, Pilotdrift, has recently released Water Sphere, which runs the gamut of musical styles from cool, rhythmically-driven, Indie Pop to scary, Fellini-esque, Cabaret tunes. Pilotdrift managed to catch the attention of Polyphonic Spree’s Tim DeLaughter and Julie Doyle, who own Good Records. They consigned their first self-released CD, Iter Facere (5 of the 13 tracks ended up on Water Sphere) at Good Records and shortly thereafter became the first band to be signed to Good Records Recordings that was not a product of DeLaughter.

Upon first listen, I could easily tell that these guys defy simple categorization of their music and that little to none of the creative soundscapes on Water Sphere were accidental or random studio magic. The fact that Pilotdrift calls Texarkana, Texas home, seemed unusual at first, but then again, the Flaming Lips call Norman, Oklahoma home. Pilotdrift (Kelly Carr – lead vocals/piano/acoustic guitar, Jay Budzilowski – bass, Ben Rice – drums, Eric Russell – electronics/guitar, and John David Blagg – electric guitar) slides comfortably between several musical genres while showcasing their vast lexicon of musical styles and influences.

I have to admit, when I first popped this CD into my car stereo and cranked the volume to get the total effect, a few of the songs (“Late Night in a Wax Museum” and “Jekyll & Hyde Suite”) initially gave me the heebie-jeebies just by virtue of their dynamic range and the brooding mood they created. Throughout the album, I could hear likely influences from contemporaries like Supergrass, Radiohead, Mercury Rev, Pink Floyd, the Flaming Lips, and Sigur Ros. Some of my favorite tracks are:

“Caught in My Trap” – An intricate, Alt-Rock Opera in three movements.

“Comets” – A beautifully textured, ethereal tune complete with haunting, breathy choral arrangements

“Bubblecraft” – A cool, medium-tempo, Sci-Fi, Martini Lounge tune with Thom Yorke-ish vocals and a chorus that seems to contain a snippet of musical DNA from the Charlie’s Angels television series theme.

“Passenger Seat” – Rhythmically-driven, Alt-Pop song with tasteful helpings of soundboard experimentation and digital panache. Four minutes and forty-three seconds of this song will leave you wanting more.

Overall, Water Sphere is a pleasurable, mind-stretching, musical odyssey from the atmospheric first track, “Caught in My Trap,” to the Radiohead-meets-Andrew Lloyd Webber feel of the last track, “So Long.” This is an exceptional debut album and is hopefully the harbinger of more great music from Texarkana’s intelligent and musically inventive quintet. Catch Pilotdrift live as they wrap up their tour with Supergrass: Feb 22 – Los Angeles, CA at Avalon; Feb 23 – San Francisco, CA at The Great American Music Hall; Feb 25 – Seattle, WA at The Showbox; and Feb 26 – Vancouver, BC at The Commodore Ballroom

Visit them online at: Pilotdrift.com

Highly Recommended.

The Matt Largo's Cerebral Vortex
Edited: [!–GH–]

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  • Jules B.

    Great review! I discovered Pilotdrift on MySpace and was instantly hooked on their unusual brand of Prog Rock. I hear they are a “must-see” live show.