THE TWENTY COMMITTEE – The Cycle Undone (Album Review)

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It’s been over a decade since New Jersey-based progressive rock quintet The Twenty Committee released their highly impressive debut LP, A Lifeblood Psalm.” Although influences such as Porcupine Tree, Chick Corea, and Neal Morse were apparent, the collection nonetheless established the group as a rewardingly original and motivated new addition to the genre.

Fast-forward to 2023 and the band has just returned with a brand new record—“The Cycle Undone”—and a slightly revised lineup (lead guitarist Jeff Bishop replaced Steve Kostas). With help from prog rock royalty such as Renaissance vocalist Annie Haslam and Echolyn guitarist/singer Brett Kull, The Twenty Committee ensure that “The Cycle Undone” continues where its predecessor left off while offering some significantly fresh and adventurous new qualities. In particular, it seems more cosmically coated and stylistically experimental than “A Lifeblood Psalm,” thereby taking its creators and their audience to gratifyingly new places amidst proving that their superb first outing wasn’t a one-time fluke.

Right away, opener “Recodified” illustrates those distinctions, as its spacey keyboard and guitar prelude eventually erupts into an ever-changingly playful but intense jam reminiscent of The Flower Kings, Beardfish, Frank Zappa, and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Each movement is commendably varied in terms of its textures and attitude, and the sections flow into each other quite well. Plus, lead vocalist/keyboardist Geoffrey Langley’s softly sung verses (complemented by others’ harmonies) and accompanying pianowork shakes things up even more, allowing “Recodified” to single-handedly demonstrate The Twenty Committee’s growth and worth as both quality songwriters and astute musicians.

“The Cycle Undone” – Artwork

Naturally, pieces such as “Sparks in the Mind,” “The Cycle Undone,and “Embers” generally adhere to that DNA while also doing enough individually to stand out. The multifaceted title track is especially epic and striving, with Haslam’s signature timbre blanketing the latter half and the funky yet ominous midpoint jazz fusion freakout evoking moments from Steven Wilson’s “The Raven That Refused to Sing” and “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”  Elsewhere, the LP taps into lighter and sparser territory. For example, the mostly calm and soaring “A Star in the Eye” – featuring harpist Laura Langley – provides humble reflections, delicate musicianship, and angelic harmonies prior to its Steely Dan-esque rugged electric guitar dualities. Afterward, “Forevermore” and “Robot Death” add a ton of colorful and lively instrumentation alongside charming interlocking voices, whereas wordless epilogue “Dust Returned” is a short yet impactful fusion of atmospheres and piano chords.

Even the album’s lyrics warrant acclaim, as they’re often quite poetic and vivid. Take, for instance, “How to breath, so surreal / The persistence of heart / That fades to memory” (from “Forevermore”) and “Commit your mind, and sensors to / The glories of / A city bathed in gold / Utopia has now been found / Here on this Earth” (from “Embers”). Such inspired sentiments illustrate why Langley and guitarist Justin Carlton’s songwriting partnership is among the group’s greatest assets.

It may’ve taken over 10 years for The Twenty Committee to come back, but the wait was certainly worth it. Not only does “The Cycle Undone” surpass its predecessor in terms of scope, diversity, and ambition, but it easily measures up to virtually all of 2023’s other progressive rock releases. On that note, the record exemplifies why relatively up-and-coming acts often outshine their most iconic brethren, and it’s sure to satisfy any, and all genre enthusiasts.

Release Date: December 12, 2023
Record Label: Self-Released (Bandcamp)
Genre: Progressive Rock

Musicians:

  • Geoffrey Langley / Lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, organ
  • Joe Henderson / Backing vocals, drums, percussion
  • Justin Carlton / Background vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, additional keyboards
  • Jeff Bishop / Lead guitar, additional background vocals
  • Richmond Carlton / Bass, harp, additional background vocals

“The Cycle Undone” Track-list:

1. Recodified
2. Sparks in the Mind
3. Embers
4. A Star in the Eye
5. Forevermore
6. The Cycle Undone
7. Robot Death
8. Dust Returned

Order “The Cycle Undone” HERE

9.0 Excellent

Not only does “The Cycle Undone” surpass its predecessor in terms of scope, diversity, and ambition, but it easily measures up to virtually all of 2023’s other progressive rock releases

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 9.5
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