Although the name Peter Jones may fly under the radar of many – or be confused with the Haken keyboardist of the same name – his voice is increasingly becoming difficult to miss, popping up in cameo appearances everywhere in the past few years. And if you don’t catch his voice on an album, it just may be his saxophone solo, keyboards, or any number of other instruments that makes an appearance. In addition to his guest spots, there are a number of bands of which he is now a member, Red Bazar being currently on deck with their excellent new release “Inverted Reality”. Having evolved from an instrumental trio with a few earlier albums under their belt, this new recording is the third to feature Jones as their fourth member, playing keys and handling all vocals.
With so many concurrent Jones bands and projects releasing new material every year, there’s the risk of it all blending together in the listener’s mind, possibly resulting in each band having less of a separate identity. Red Bazar have tackled this challenge head on with “Inverted Reality” through a more aggressive writing and performance approach, not least of all including Jones’ own vocal style. Indeed, this reviewer was convinced for a time that there must be a second lead vocalist on a few of the new songs until Jones affirmed that he is the sole singer on the album. The results are spectacular, featuring one standout song after another, all four members of the band excelling on their instruments and providing an extremely satisfying listening experience with a bit of bite.
The album launches out of the gate with “One Out of Three”, the opening sequence a little marred by an annoying keyboard patch but that’s about the only gripe you’ll hear mentioned in this review. Mick Wilson’s rumbling bass lines are more than a match for Andy Wilson’s guitar pyrotechnics and Paul Comerie’s tribal drum beats, providing an onslaught of sound that is still capable of pivoting on a dime to a different style. With a few inventive vocal approaches halfway through, the song firmly has tongue in cheek as it pokes fun at the the homogenized state of the music industry.
“Spirit of Man” follows with a much more ambient beginning but gradually reaches a satisfying bass-rooted groove that stretches out over the course of this extended piece, leaving plenty of space for Comerie’s satisfying drum fills. Likewise, Jones crafts his the arc of his vocal delivery for maximum impact, adding well-placed harmonies when needed. Fantastic track. “State of Disgrace” hits hard with an angry, aggressive attack against the the powers-that-be who would remove our freedoms if we don’t resist. Or is it? All is revealed at the end of the song but in the meantime there’s plenty of fire delivered by the band’s fury, including even more than a hint of a … growl … from Jones during the finale!
As good as the opening three songs are, the remaining half of the album is even stronger. Consisting of three 10-minute tracks, this is some of the best modern prog on hand this year. “Take Control” waltzes through with grace and style, perfectly paced right down to Wilson’s relaxed yet impactful guitar solo. The final two minutes are a rallying cry toward revolution, offering a flavor that will keep Genesis fans pleased. “Smoke Screen” is perhaps the best of the lot. The music is exquisite yet understated, offering exactly what is needed to make the listener swoon a little more. Wilson sets a hypnotic bass line in motion and the rest of the band builds around it with expertise. The lyrical quality is quite dark, initially based on the beginning of a John Francome novel but Jones takes it even further with the protagonist setting fire to the house where his unfaithful partner and her lover are burnt alive, which consumes all three of them to the sound of Jones’ exhortations of “Die!!!”.
The album closes with “Stop The World” which again begs the question of whether there’s really a second singer on this album. But no, it’s still Jones, now with much more edge in his tone and I have to admit I kind of like it as much as his clean vocal, which is saying something. Starting off with a Porcupine Tree-style bass line (ahem…Colin Edwin, that is), this is one more track on the album that proves the band can handle aggressive attack with aplomb. But what really makes Red Bazar special is their ability to pull off such a wide dynamic range in one song, which begs for sustained repeat listenings. Indeed, the whole album becomes quite addictive, I’ve gone through a couple dozen spins in the last three weeks with no letting up in sight. If you haven’t frequented the bazaar yet, “Inverted Reality” is highly recommended as your first stop.
Released By: White Knight Records
Release Date: September 30th, 2022
Genre: Progressive Rock
- Andy Wilson / Guitars
- Paul Comerie / Drums
- Mick Wilson / Bass
- Peter Jones / Vocals
“Inverted Reality” track-listing:
1. One Out of Three
2. Spirit of Man
3. State of Disgrace
4. Take Control
5. Smoke Screen
6. Stop the World
“Red Bazar” is available for pre-order here
Red Bazar surprises with an eminently engaging modern prog album, wielding a more aggressive attack while somehow still going down smoothly. These four musicians know their strengths and how to compliment one another to create compelling arrangements that keep the listener coming back for more. With Peter Jones at the vocal mic and compositions as good as these, there’s little that can go wrong. All looks right in a world with this “Inverted Reality”