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Jolly - 'The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part 1)' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/05/8f/67/1205_jollytheaudioguidetohappiness_1304536581.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 04, 2011    
 
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This album was a lot more enjoyable and organic than I was expecting after reading about the scientific approach behind it.

There's some kind of bizarre spiel attached to the press release for this album by New York neo-prog band Jolly, and while I don't usually agree with the lazy practice of using large amounts of text from the press release in reviews, I'm just not intelligent (or interested!) enough to try to explain what is allegedly going on here in my own words. The four piece band are claiming that "Under the guise of rock music, Jolly has devised a therapeutic auditory experience scientifically designed to bring the brain to a state of pure happiness. By combining sophisticated arrangements, ambient textures, aggressive dynamics, and infectious melodies with binaural brain wave technology, a new medium is born."

Have you got that so far? Well, how about this? "Embedded throughout the album are binaural tones, which result from the combination of slightly offset frequencies played simultaneously, thereby altering the brain's natural frequency. Scientific research suggests that such tones can enrich feelings of relaxation, focus, creativity, and happiness when experienced in headphones." Anyway, enough of this jargon, I listened to the album half a dozen times, four of those on headphones, and didn't feel anything other than that I was listening to a good, well put together and beautifully recorded and produced album with echoes of everyone from Porcupine Tree to Tool. 'The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part 1)' is actually the second Jolly album and the second to pioneer this approach, 2009's 'Forty-Six Minutes And Twelve Seconds Of Music' being the first.

After a spoken intro the album kicks off with 'End Where It Starts', a bass driven powerful song with interesting rhythms and guitar parts, but the vocals of Anadale fit perfectly despite being a little raw compared to the music. He's the guitarist as well and does a good job throughout, proving to be a bit of a vocal chameleon as he switches from upbeat and joyful songs to heavier and more aggressive fare. 'Joy' for instance is light and catchy and 'Pretty Darlin' could pass for Snow Patrol, but on 'The Pattern' his tuneful vocals work well amongst its tighter, heavier grooves and tricky ensemble playing, highlighting some seriously good work from drummer Louis Abramson. 'Still A Dream' is haunting modern prog with an aggressive edge whilst the light and melodic 'Radiae' launches into a heavier part mid-way before returning to its original theme.

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The best track may well be 'Where Everything's Perfect', which manages to be tuneful, quirky and accessible with some stunning musicianship, and to give even more variety the poppy 'Storytime' is mostly keyboard and vocal based with syncopated drum rhythms and more stunning bass from the excellent Joe Reilly. I find the short spoken bits a bit of a distraction and I also don't go a bundle on the processed vocals of 'Dorothy's Lament', but these moments aside this album was a lot more enjoyable and organic than I was expecting after reading about the scientific approach behind it. I can't vouch for anything more than the good songs giving me pleasure when listening to 'The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part 1)', but for me that's enough.

Phil Ashcroft

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