Lobate Scarp – You Have It All (Album Review)

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Cosmically-titled bands have an inherent progginess to them, even when it is as obscure a reference as a Lobate Scarp. Perhaps it’s no accident that sci-fi-inspired Spock’s Beard follows a similar orbit, musically-speaking, including some personnel who guest on new album “You Have It All”. That is to say, the two bands seem to inhabit the same universe in their approach to modern prog-rock. Or make that the same solar system. Featuring strong melodies and hooks supported by layers of keyboards, acoustic & electric guitars, thundering bass, top-tier drumming and a host of wind and stringed instruments, Lobate Scarp lays down an extremely satisfying symphonic rock album which makes it worth the wait since their debut ten years ago.

While the band is officially comprised of Adam Sears (vocals/ keys), Andy Catt (bass), Peter Matuchniak (guitar), Evan Michael Hart (drums), and Christina Burbano-Jeffrey (violin), the new album features a number of additional musicians and special guests who elevate the album into something truly special. First and foremost, however, Adam Sears is the mastermind behind the songwriting, lead vocals and keyboards who the listener senses is primarily responsible for bringing this magic together. Enlisting the recording, producing, mixing and mastering talents of Rich Mouser and Steven Leavitt, the album is guaranteed to sound fantastic. Indeed, Lobate Scarp seems to ‘Have It All.’

“You Have It All” Album Artwork

There are several standout tracks scattered throughout the album. “Our Test Tube Universe” is surely among them, Sears’ vocal delivery approaching the likes of a modern Kevin Gilbert. Jimmy Keegan guests on drums, a perfect fit with his hard-hitting approach, as well as Spock’s keyboard madman Ryo Okumoto on the B3 organ. With lyrics inviting deeper introspection and music inviting groove with dark intensity, this is an accessible and extremely satisfying song. Okumoto also appears on the one instrumental of the album, “Conduit” which is composed by Sears and yet comes off as a spontaneous jam by being recorded live in the studio. Featuring solos from nearly all the players, ironically Sears doesn’t actually perform on the song but he still gets much credit. Intriguingly, the final section transitions into an Eastern-tinged ambient soundscape which then segues to the next song, a nice touch if somewhat surprising. Later on, the swooning “Beautiful Light” is another standout track, accompanied by gorgeous orchestration arranged by Steven Leavitt, full chorus vocals and some choice Howe-ish pedal steel guitar from Andrea Whitt.

Two epic-length tracks occupy a big swath of the album, “Flowing Through the Change” even boasting five subsections in true prog form. The drumming on both pieces (and previous instrumental “Conduit”) is courtesy of Suicidal TendenciesEric Moore who channels an extremely engaging performance, time-signatures flying on the toms. What a drummer. Andy Catt lays down a simple but defining baseline on which the opening piece “Futureflow” revolves around, sometimes in dizzying ways. Peter Matuchniak delivers a great guitar solo in the “Dreamflow” section but it’s the string quartet that lends the piece a greater sense of grandeur. Elsewhere, the song “You Have It All” starts off in a somewhat straightforward manner (albeit in a time signature of 15) but later reveals special treats as well, including guest vocals from Billy Sherwood and Jon Davison of Yes. The instrumental jam sections are engaging, equally on guitar, synths and violin, and the chorus is one of the best on the album. A well-deserved title track, clocking in just under 15 minutes.

There are many secret weapons present in the mix, in addition to the obvious songwriting and musicianship, such as generous use of violin, viola, French horn, chorus vocals and string arrangements. On top of everything else, Rich Mouser and Steven Leavitt heap on whatever guitars, keys and random instruments they sense would take the pieces further, and it works. A spiritual thread runs throughout many of the lyrics, making this an uplifting and affirming listen even while offering food for thought. Perhaps the track listing could have been slightly improved or edited down to give a better cohesive identity, as the diversity herein threatens to confuse the listening experience at times. Still, Sears’ inspiring vocals and skilled songwriting are ultimately the thread that holds it all together.

“You Have It All” is a joyful, accomplished release which displays a great deal of attention and love in its development. Fans of engaging modern prog rock are urged to pick up a copy. Unfortunately it may fly under the radar of many, so do your part to spread the word and be sure that ‘All of You Have It.’

Released By: Lobate Scarp / Slightly Crazy Music
Release Date: May 6th, 2022
Genre:  Progressive Rock

  Band Members:

  • Adam Sears / Lead vocals, synths, piano, organs
  • Andy Catt / Bass, vocals
  • Peter Matuchniak / Guitar
  • Hoyt Binder / Guitar (Track 2)
  • Nate Olmos / Guitar (Track 7)
  • Eric Moore / Drums (Tracks 1, 5, 9)
  • Jimmy Keegan / Drums (Tracks 4, 8)
  • Mike Gerbrandt / Drums (Tracks 2, 7)
  • Billy Sherwood / Vocals (Track 5)
  • Jon Davison / Vocals (Track 5)
  • Ryo Okumoto / B3 organs, synths, and jazz piano (Tracks 1, 8)

String Quartet:

  • Aiko Jimena Richter (Violin), Yvette Holzwarth (Violin), Thomas Lea (Viola), Hillary Smith (Cello) (Tracks 1, 4, 5, 9)
  • Andrea Whitt / Viola, pedal steel (Tracks 1, 2, 7)
  • Rachel Grace / Violin (Track 2)
  • Tawnee Lynn Lilo / French horn (Tracks 1, 4, 9)
  • Steve Huber / violin and viola (Track 3)
  • Michael Bernard / Synth and drums programming
  • Raul Hernandez / Additional guitars
  • Steven Leavitt / Piano and B3, Moog, synth programming, maracas, tambourine, glockenspiel, vocals
  • Rich Mouser / Additional rhythm and lead guitars, 12-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, shaker, tambourine, dilruba

“You Have It All”  Track Listing:

  1. Conduit (7:02)
  2. Nothing Wrong (6:15)
  3. In the Night I (0:54)
  4. Life-Line (5:53)
  5. You Have it All  (14:31)
  6. In the Night II (1:13)
  7. Beautiful Light  (5:46)
  8. Our Test Tube Universe  (7:36)
  9. Flowing Through the Change  (17:26)

“You have It All” is available here.

8.8 Excellent

Ten years after their debut recording, Lobate Scarp return with a diverse, impressive collection of songs which deserves to be in every symphonic prog fan’s library. This labor of love was worth the wait, its eclectic instrumentation and performance fully realizing the engaging songwriting from Adam Sears. Don’t let the cryptic band name distract you, this is an excellent release that deserves your lobate ears’ attention

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 7.5
  • Production 9.5

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