PERFECT BEINGS – VIER – INSIDE OUT MUSIC
By Kev Rowland
Between the second and third albums, there were some changes in the Perfect Beings camp, most notably the loss of the rhythm section so that the band was now operating as a trio with additional guest musicians. Ben Levin provides drums on the album which was released at the beginning of 2018, but he has since been replaced by Sein Reinart, and while Johannes Luley picked up the bass duties alongside his guitar, he has now happily put aside the four strings for Jason Lobell. This album also sees a much higher use of woodwind and brass, and since the album, they have been joined by saxophonist/ flutist Brett McDonald. Also, they are no longer releasing their music on their own label but have signed with Inside Out, a major step forward in so many ways.
With so much happening on the personal front, it probably isn’t surprising that the band have also created a sound that is different to what has gone before. It took me a long way to come up with a way of best describing the music, but in the end, I felt that the only real description that worked for me was “Yes, distilled and concentrated”. Yes have always been an important aspect of the music, but here Perfect Beings have taken it to a whole new level, much more so than the original band. Johannes has revealed in playing fretless bass, bringing it even further to the fore than Chris Tristram had previously, while Ryan Hurtgen is as powerful, clean and melodic as he has always been, and Jesse Nason is happy to keep it all together with a modern sounding approach to keyboards.
A big musical difference between this and the other albums is the use of saxophone (particularly) and other brass and woodwind instruments. Max Kaplan (various saxophones and clarinets) has had a huge role to play on the overall sound of this album, and while the guests don’t feature on every song, where they are used they have an immediate impact. Japanese koto and erdu musicians are used alongside cello, tabla, flugelhorn, flute, bass flute, trombone and the Vienna Symphonic Library, all brought into a musical journey, divided into four movements. It is an incredibly deep album, with a breadth of thought that goes on forever, and at times moves into the modern orchestra soundscape area that is normally thought of as being the domain of Karda Estra. Yet, even with all this going on, it is still an incredibly light album in many ways, one that it is easy to get inside the heart of, which allows the listener to be swept along on an amazing musical journey. It is an album that cries out to be heard on headphones when there is enough time to sit and relax back into it.
This is easily their finest album to date, and I fully expect it to be in my Top Ten albums at the end of the year as I can’t expect to come across many more finer than this. 9/10