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Debut Album: The Cuckoo Gene

Guitar and synth driven concept album of Space Rock with a Prog Rock flavour

Reviews:

Prog Critique (French) 3.5/5
I fell under the spell of this concept album, “ The Cuckoo Gene” produced by Chronolord, a duo made up of Andy Cooke (Dataloaf) from Baltimore and Tim Readman (Fear of Drinking) from Vancouver. It is based on a story of foreboding and the desire to ‘save the human race from extinction after the collapse of the ecosystem of planet earth’. Multi-instrumentalist Andy composed the 11 tracks and Tim wrote the lyrics and and the vocal melodies.

Most of the tracks on this album unfold to create a warm ambience. They are intimate compositions, more ballads than upbeat rock songs. Chronolord offers us beautiful compositions with a melodic background which ventures from time to time towards a sound redolent of Pink Floyd. The rather haunting melody in the album’s intro, 'Annihilation' immediately sets the desired tone for all the compositions. The music flows and immediately gels together, mixing genres as the tracks move between psychedelic rock and progressive rock, sometimes switching to folk.

Two titles stand out i.e. ‘Construction’, a real pearl, tinged with Beatle-esque hints and ‘Decision’ which could be a worthy descendant of the compositions of Barclay James Harvest. But far from indulging in an easy routine, the tandem also produces some more energetic, upbeat sections especially two psychedelic rock tracks ‘Infliction’ and ‘Intervention’,. Their inclination towards progressive rock, even neo-prog, is not forgotten with ‘Solution’ where the catchy themes are linked together to explode into an exhilarating finale, resulting in an epic duel between guitar and keyboard.

The production is perhaps a little light, but you very quickly become hooked in by the quality of most of the compositions, which perfectly complements the overall concept of The Cuckoo Gene.

What more could you ask?
Gabriel Badelier, Prog Critique Website, Feb 2020 Translated by Naomi Readman

NEOPROG (French) 3.5/5
A little over four thousand six hundred kilometres separate Baltimore from Vancouver; Andy Cooke from Tim Readman. However, ”Music has no borders” as we say. From the meeting of these two artists at the Tres Gatos studios in Towson near Baltimore, a science fiction concept album was born.

The album tells a fable in which humankind tries to save the last survivors of its species after the collapse of earth’s ecosystem. A burning issue of today!

We embark on eleven tracks, whose titles end in ‘tion’ - from “Annihilation” to “Creation”, an irreversible journey from earth to a distant planet, in order to give humanity a new start? The rhythm of The Cuckoo Gene is unusual for progressive rock and is more reminiscent of Bob Dylan, David Bowie and John Lennon than of Neal Morse. A sixties/seventies sound without the dominating sounds of the genre, sometimes folk, sometimes rock, which immediately drew me in with its solemn message. The lyrics are at the heart of the album, with only short instrumental sections - some rhythmical folk acoustic sections, and some with electric guitars, synth keyboards and drums. Thus, it is an album with a strong narrative and of relatively short duration where the story dominates the music on the first six songs before switching to much more of a rock sound from Intervention onwards.

The world collapses in ‘Annihilation’ to the sounds of keyboards and rhythm guitar. The survivors, in hibernation, watched by machines, set off for a distant planet on Vangelis-style keyboard and an acoustic guitar (‘Anticipation’). Alas, in ‘Activation’ the disembodied voice of a machine tells us that cryopreservation has turned into a nightmare and that only one passenger seems to be able to survive. With riffs in the style of Ayreon on ‘Infliction’, we discover the madness of the sole survivor: “Everything for me, all for me.” Robots deliberate on how to proceed and then re-interpret the laws that govern them in order to preserve themselves and save humanity. They confine the survivor to prison on the very rhythmic track ‘Intervention’ and then it is on to the rock sound of ‘Solution’ in which the machines save humanity from its own madness. The fable ends with ‘Creation’, on the surface of a new Eden - where no serpent lurks.

Even though The Cuckoo Gene is an album produced on a small budget with its creative artwork and relatively minimalist music, it is precisely the gravity of the story presented, along with Tim’s singing which make it charming.

So go and discover it for yourself. It is on Bandcamp.

Jean-Christophe Le Brun, NEOPROG Website, Apr 2020 Translated by Naomi Readman

PROFIL Prog (French) 7.7/10
Chronolord is a collaboration between Andy Cooke (Dataloaf) from Baltimore MD and Tim Readman (Fear of Drinking) from Vancouver BC, both Englishmen living in North America.

Tim wrote the lyrics, vocal melodies and sang the songs whilst Andy wrote the music, played the instruments, did all the programming and sequencing and took care of the recording, engineering and editing functions. “The Cuckoo Gene” tells the story of an attempt to save the human species from extinction after the collapse of Planet Earth as a viable ecosystem for human survival. The production speaks for itself as this duo delivers 11 songs which incorporate various Post-Rock sounds; not overly complex and somewhat minimalist, with a moving emotional element. Here is a summary of my reaction to listening to the album.

The album starts well with the track “Annihilation” which reveals the texture and tone to be echoed in the tracks to come. It starts slowly with a short guitar intro which will be repeated at the end of the last track. The sound becomes a pure and simple lament, marking the disastrous end to human expansionism. Certain sections have a similar sound to The Cranberries albeit with a different energy. The arrangement features an acoustic guitar and some synth keys as the main instruments, creating a strong song which is accessible. “Construction” begins as a well articulated song with a melancholic aspect. It is enlivened by the arrival of an electric guitar, evoking the sound of 60s pop music suggestive of a toned-down version of The Who. The track is coherent and well composed and could be well suited for inclusion in a “Best Of” CD as a great soundtrack for a car journey. “Anticipation” begins with a synth chord and quintessentially English group singing in the style of Lost Crowns. It gently progresses into a pleasing repeated melodic figure. “Activation” features a robotic female voice warning of impending disaster. The accompaniment is a sinister continuous synth sound. “Infliction” starts with the guitarist’s foot on the wah-wah pedal supported by a Hammond type organ with drums predominating. Here the voices have a certain macabre ‘joie de vivre’ reminiscent of Joy Division. “Decision” is a folky ballad accompanied by a solo acoustic guitar with a synth in the background. The melody is well composed, the chords are harmonious and delicately interpreted, with the two harmony voices evoking Simon and Garfunkel with a touch of Fischer-Z. My favourite aspect of “Construction” and “Intervention” is that they go straight into an upbeat tempo, with punk overtones, resembling The Clash more than The Sex Pistols. Close listening rewards the listener, but is not necessarily needed to just enjoy the songs. “Contemplation” is aptly named with its delicate refrain supported by a gently played acoustic guitar and accompanied by a vintage ambient keyboard. The singing is soft and echoes alternately with a synthetic voice, and has a nicely mystical and atmospheric ending. “Solution” could be mistaken for the Smiths with the retro vocal style of a Morrissey. It starts with heavy guitar which has a predominately prog rock sound. This one is more like a piece of patchwork in three parts rather than a wholly progressive construction. There are some interesting interludes in the hard rock sections with instrumental sounds reminiscent of AC/DC, characterised by an omnipresent rhythm guitar. This well composed track is in my top three songs on the album. “Continuation” is a repetition of the dreamy and atmospheric refrain from “Anticipation”. “Creation” is a rock song which again sounds like The Who - but not to the extent where anyone bashes his head with the guitar or pounds the bass drum until it bursts. The heavy guitar riffs do not detract from the thoughtful and well composed nature of this song.

No matter how hard I look, I don’t see this music as part of the genre that interests us most on this site; the classic Progressive Rock side coming from the well written narrative, but little more. I would not classify this as Neo-prog as it has been described in some other reviews and which suggest traces of sounds similar to Marillion, IQ, Pendragon and other legends of the genre. There’s a touch of Psychedelic Rock if you look for it. As for Experimental Rock… it’s certainly that! Nevertheless, I must admit that this adventurous duo pleasantly surprised me, with its unique way of reinventing rock music from various periods, its well-crafted melodies, and by the way it did not sell out to fit in with other genres. Highlighted by a rigorous and concise interpretation of the story, they enable us to be transported into the fictional world of Chronolord. Listening to this album, I travelled on an unnamed plane, was transported to unknown places, and discovered intimate and mysterious worlds. What better way to escape and discover new landscapes, especially at a time when exploratory music and albums are scarce!

Marek Deveaux, PROFIL Prog Website, May 2020 Translated by Naomi Readman

CDBaby 5/5
I really like the music
Very cool! Listening to it right now - I really like this music. It reminds me of a mix of Beatles, Yes, David Bowie, Styx (without the theatricals). My favourite songs are 'Decision' and 'Solution'. Nice continuity on the one word song names too! Christine Baudry, CDBaby Website, Feb 2020
CDBaby 5/5
It's a cuckoo revolution
A haunting mix of early Floyd /Yes with some Beatle-ish overtones that leads you through the stars to the new world order. A fascinating blend of some wonderful guitar and synthesizer work along with the almost melancholy lyrics, although I found it helps to read the CD notes before listening to the tracks, that will leave you wanting to hear more of what befalls us on our new home!
Steve L, CDBaby Website, Feb 2020
Via Email
I just listened to the Chronolord podcast. Loved it. I got so excited that I purchased the album from CD Baby the first time I have ever bought downloads. I have been slow to respond to the CD promotion but better late than ever. You’ll appreciate the fact this is my first new prog-rock experience since buying Thick As A Brick in 1972! Not a sci-fi fan at heart, I nonetheless find the whole thing quite gripping. The production is excellent. Just the right level of crispness for my ears. The vocals are so clear and clean, which I truly appreciate. Congratulations on avoiding what I call “prog-rock bombast”. We must protect all robots is probably my favourite line so far, with I pray to a God I don’t believe in a close second. The track with the robotic female voice is a masterstroke. Alan Millen, Zurich, Switzerland, March 2020
Via Email
I love this album so much! Such a cool concept (love the story that goes along with it) and the songs are amazing! I was blown away at what an amazing job you guys did! The sound is fab!!! Melissa K, Maine, USA, April 2020


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