A Torn Mind - Barriers
Owain Paciuszko 26/03/2010
Debut EP from Scottish prog-rockers A Torn Mind opens in a way that is almost stereotypically space-rock, guitars noodling around over impending drums before things go decidely 80s-synth-pop when Grant Kilpatrick's vocals kick in. Notably Chris Hartles introduces some stabs of saxophone preceding a mellower sax driven bridging section, which has the feeling of some of David Bowie's poorer work. Sure, there's a lot of diversity thrown into the mix of this opening track - Sixes and Sevens - but it doesn't quite coalesce into a fluid whole, rather feeling like a collage of ideas cut and pasted rawly together. Thus rendering it's climatic cries of 'All this will slip away.' somewhat bathotic.
Edge of the World mixes its raw, metal guitar sections with twinkling bells and slices of sharp synth, which works well at times, but at others merely fills the spaces. Ultimately however it's a little hard to distinguish this track from the one that preceded it, the band's sound blurring into a distancing noise. Forunately Titans slows things down, creating a sound akin to Heathen-era Bowie, mixing proggish elements with pop sensibility, and though Kilpatrick's vocal lacks the nuance of the thin white duke, it certainly holds up well. That things decide to go back into prog-rock come the track's closing minutes is almost irrelevant, a decision made not out of any considered arrangment but almost out of an innate band necessity; as if saying 'We're a prog-rock band, so must tick these boxes in every track.' Thus the big-guitar-noise-section is disposable and devoid of any real feeling, and when this collides with the softer moments it just induces a mild headache.
The segue into Impurity is impressively handled, but there's little else to say about what follows. Perhaps for die-hard prog-rock fans there will be something nestled in these tracks that may stoke their fires, but for a more casual listener, probably guilty of liking only the names that have crossed over to mainstream appreciation, these tracks feel flimsy and sparse. Another burst of jazzy-saxophone is enough to catch the ear once again, but it's so fleeting as to be an after-thought; maybe the band need to find a way of pushing these intriguing and peculiar musical elements to the fore and create a truly distinctive sound as opposed to contentedly going through the motions.
Final track is the ten and a half minute long Vita, this five track record clocking in at a grand total of just under forty minutes, which sashays between pop-rock-stomp and Math-erraticism, with Kilpatrick singing 'Is this what you wanted for us?' Perhaps I'm the wrong person to listen to this, but when you find yourself confronted with the notion that 'good music' isn't objective you really have to question the worth of a band. Maybe, this is a band tailored for prog-rock fans, but then maybe I'm being unintentionally harsh towards prog fans?! I can't answer my own question, so it remains to be seen how others feel about A Torn Mind.