steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The Wheel Works

Self-titled CD

India Records

Genre: progressive rock

Oct 4 - 10 2004

The Wheel Works have cool voices. I don't know; that's just the first thing that came to mind. For some odd reason they remind me of Casper the Friendly Ghost. I have no idea why. I guess it's a good thing, as you probably assumed when I used the word 'cool' to describe them.

What is obvious and undeniable about this band is that the level of energy is delightfully high. The rhythms are positively bouncy, and even on the more somber offerings ("Personal Strangers," "Stella Link") you get the hint that they're not so much songs as interludes building towards the next exciting ballad. It's hard to tell if the music is well done or not, but the beauty of this album is that it doesn't really make me want to care. Charisma is what drives this disc; The Wheel Works make you genuinely want to like them.

There's an abundance of creativity here as well. The songs are highly individual: both in the context of the album and in general. Conventional song structures are mostly abandoned and whatever conventions one finds here are so mashed up with one another that it's impossible for one to get a singular concrete impression of this album. I guess it takes away all the capacity to criticize.

The one problem I have with this disc is that the band occasionally outstretches their creative limits. Songs on this album can be inaccessible; not that it's a bad thing, but listeners wanting to tune in and get absorbed by something powerful won't find a real option here. This is a record on which one should marinate, not meditate. Let it sink in for a few listens and appreciate it. Then turn on ten-minute opener "Mystic Rust". Get blown away. Back to step one.


Engelbert K. Mutton

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]