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Critical Voices: Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears, Flight of the Knife
Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears; Flight of the Knife; Black and Greene Records
A year after releasing his well-received solo debut, The Shredding Tears, Bryan Scary is set to unleash his second album, Flight Of The Knife. Scary’s touring band, The Shredding Tears, joined him in the studio to help create an electric follow-up.
The album was inspired by Thomas Pynchon’s byzantine 1,000-plus page novel from 2005, Against the Day. Many critics labeled the novel, which features over one hundred characters and a variety of settings, “amorphous.” Flight Of The Knife, though, is well-structured, if occasionally veering into the unexpectedly bizarre. The result is out-there, but surprisingly accessible and enjoyable.
The title track encapsulates the album’s style: A deep and ominous keyboard prelude gives way to an uplifting, attention-grabbing drum intro from Brian Bauer, followed by Scary launching into an epic tale about young Valentine’s mission to catch a glimpse of a legendary spaceship known as The Knife. A complex instrumental arrangement blends with the lyrics of a childhood fantasy to produce a strong opening track.
“The Fire-Tree Bird” spotlights Scary’s solo gifts. With slow and winding vocals, he gently sings about the first time he saw the Fire-Tree Bird (whatever that is), until out of nowhere The Shredding Tears enter in an explosion of sound that features a staccato second keyboard from Mike Acreman and a speedy yet deliberate hook from Graham Norwood’s guitar.
For a quieter, more psychedelic sound, see “The Zero Light.” Gentle percussion and soft vocals make the track an easy listen, but it lacks the grand, instrumental arrangements that characterize the other songs. Luckily, this deviation is short lived: “Son Of Stab” opens with pounding percussion and a high-pitched keyboard, and abruptly shifts to a surf pop melody before once again returning to the original high-pitched, staccato sound. The dynamic track’s harmonic fluctuations will either impress you or drive you insane, depending on your tolerance for prog-rock rhythms.
This Saturday evening Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears will be playing with Murder Mystery at the Rock N Roll Hotel here in D.C. If the band lives up to their reputation for firey live shows, expect an energetic performance and a visually stimulating stage set to complement the tale of the Flight Of The Knife.
Voice’s Choices: “Flight Of The Knife (Part One),” “Heaven On A Bird”