NEW! Now available for Stream or Purchase through Bandcamp
Release Date: August 2008, ReR USA.
Available format: CD & Downloads
LINE-UP: Brandon Lord Ross, Lynnette Shelley, Vonorn, Andrew Kowal. Produced by Vonorn.
01. The Spider Is the Web
02. Carbon 14
03. Gliese 138
04. Das Snail
05. The Worm
06. Carbon 13
07. Lost in the Petrified Forest
08. The Hive
11. The Anti-Man (Not Afraid)
Fossil Eyes released through RER USA
The Red Masque have signed with progressive label ReR USA (headed by David Kerman) and released their new album, Fossil Eyes, in early August 2008 through RER USA's own label Ad Hoc Records. RER USA was founded in 2003 as the exclusive North American distributor of the English label, ReR Megacorp, a twenty five year old company that defines the vanguard of experimental, progressive, interesting and genre-defying music.
Please click on image to enlarge. Photo by Matthew Romano.
Fossileyes is no less than the latest essential link in the apocalyptic progression which gives "progressive" rock its oft-derided name. Starting with King Crimson, then Henry Cow and the Art Bears, then Thinking Plague and now to The Red Masque, proceding from Crimson's eloquent doom to Cow's doctrinaire cautionairianism to early Plague's altogether more extroverted practicalism (e.g. "How to Clean Squid"), we get "progessively" deeper into the irony of our postmodern age, the oxymoron of which is the only thing preventing Fossileyes from perfection. The doom of postmodernism is simply that there can be no perfection in irony, the inevitable tension of which only adds to the total brilliance of this album. Download NOW !!!!!
- Review on Emusic by ProgNClassicaLover
Marrying chamber rock prowess with heavy crimson-cow-esque drama and power, The Red Masque create a complex journey through 11 songs. The band is technically impressive and studio savvy, as it shows through the use of effects, sudden but sensical transitions, and just plain interesting and well crafted songs. Lynnette Shelley's vocals are authoritative, though make take a bit to get used to: she's powerful and articulate, with an accent that would work well for both Lydia Lunch and on a Zappa doo-wop. Red Masque is, no doubt, thick, heavy rock, in a similar vein to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, but without that band's uniquely twisted sense of humor. This is serious stuff, with a resolute focus on the music itself. And that makes for a release that rewards and reveals itself more with each listen.
- Review by SquidCo.
The Red Masque are taking back the banner of prog on their third full-length FossilEyes. The disc is nearly an hour of unapologetically out-there music with a focus on unorthodox instrumentation and unsettling atmospheres. Information on the band itself can be as obscure as the music, but this much is known for sure: the Philadelphia three piece, led by vocalist Lynnette Shelley, have a dedication to throwing rulebooks out of windows.
- Click here to read the full review on The Squid's Ear.
...the dynamic prog-manic Red Masque, whose new CD Fossil Eyes is like cramming 1,000 King Crimson bootlegs into one mystical intriguing whole.
- A.D. Amorosi, Philadelphia City Paper
Avant Rock/Psychedelic: This is plain weird and therefore great. Hailing from Philadelphia and featuring boss bass and electric guitar by Vonorn [edit, bass by Brandon Ross, guitars by Vonorn and Andrew Kowal] and rich vocals from Lynnette Shelley, Red Masque offers a unique array of tracks with ultra-cool and creepy lyrics touching on themes such as Polyphemus moths, spiders, snails, and carbon's role in dating fossils. The music here is intense, varied, and ranging from folk to Old World accordion to horror soundscapes to all-out brilliant rockouts with psyche guitar solos. This will appeal to many. Bravo! Picks: 2, 9, 11, 1. PGM: Almost all songs end around :02.
- Reviewed by humana, KFJC, 89.7 FM, Los Altos, California
Fourth album for this band. They manage to sound rough-hewn in an attractive way, while executing some pretty interesting/complex musical maneuvers in a way similar to The Work, although they don't sound like them. I found parts of this reminiscent of Art Bears, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Maudlin of the Well among others, but they never actually sound like any of these bands either.
- Wayside Music
This progressive-rock band hailing from the Philadelphia area partakes in slanted iterations of social consciousness amid elements of the macabre, while seamlessly fusing numerous rock stylizations into its signature sound. With hard-hitting time changes and complex arrangements, the unit purveys hidden meanings under a mysterious veil in concert with guitarist Andrew Kowal's scathing crunch chords and more.
Featuring Lynnette Shelley's edgy vocals atop the band's darkly resonating choruses and harrowing background treatments, they morph elements of goth-rock into the big picture. Yet they forge the acoustic component into inferences of highly-electrified notions that ring up dour circumstances. All in good fun mind you, as the quartet projects an interweaving adventure via the occasional King Crimson-like metrics, chock full of odd-metered pulses and avant-rock style breakdowns.
On the pieces titled "Lost in the Petrified Forest" and "The Hive," the musicians fuse an apocalyptic state of affairs into an endless void, largely teeming with cartoonish imagery. Then with the album finale "The Anti-Man (Not Afraid)," they instill a sense of prog-rock barbarism, complement by off-kilter phrasings, chunka-chunka guitar parts, layered keys and shadowy effects. No doubt, the artists offer a scintillating sequence of mind-bending propositions that adds to the overall excitement. Its all supplemented by their top-notch musicianship and shrewdly enacted line of attack.
About time I got around to updating The Red Masque again. They've released two albums since I last updated their GEPR entry, and both of them are excellent. The first is their long-awaited studio album Fossileyes, and the second is a Live album, Stars Fall On Me, which has excellent sound due to the fact of it being recorded live at Orion Studios. I'll focus this review mostly on Fossileyes, especially since the live album takes much of its material from there.
Fossileyes, as Lynnette told me about four years ago now, is more aggressive rhythmically than previous albums. It's still got that dark, gloomy, strange, otherworldly, "end-of-the-universe and wish-I-wasn't-here" feel to it. Gritty "King Crimson-meets-the-Sex-Pistols" rock passages vie with accordions, disturbing overdubbed vocalizations and odd-noise-soundscapes for ear time. If these folks have never heard Robert Fripp's League of Gentlemen album, I'll bet they'd like it. But Fripp's got nothing on The Red Masque when it comes to dissonances and noise.
But don't take the King Crimson comparisons too much to heart. If I had to pidgeonhole The Red Masque in any particular category, it would be RIO, a fact borne out by the fact that both ReR and Wayside Music carry this title in their catalogs. Actually, like most modern prog bands, they probably do more download business than actual hard media … I downloaded both Fossil Eyes and Stars Fall On Me from emusic, and the quality of both is quite good (though they still incorrectly name the live album as Stars FELL On Me). Stars …, in fact, is download-only.
Fossileyes is good stuff, and if you're a fan of The Red Masque's previous albums, you'll already know this is a must-have. For those of you who aren't yet in on The Red Masque's cult, this album might be your entry ticket. Hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride. But, in the end, a rewarding one. A very interesting, rule-breaking band that actually doesn't like to be called "prog" because they don't like being pigeonholed into even this broad category. They're just doing what they like, and would be happy if you like it too, and want to come along for the ride.
Stars Fall On Me features "Carbon 14", "Das Snail" and "The Spider is the Web" from Fossileyes, plus "Passage" and "House of Ash" from Feathers for Flesh and "Birdbrain" from Victoria and the Haruspex. The album ends with a nearly 20-minute improv. The recording quality is excellent, sometimes it's hard to be sure if you're listening to the live or the studio versions of these songs, particularly the Fossileyes cuts. If you're a Red Masque fan, you're going to really want this album, available only as a download. For those not yet in the know, go with Fossileyes first.
- Fred Trafton, GEPR