Once upon a time, there was a village of vegetable gnomes that was attacked by dirt bugs, a brave search party sets sail to find a magic artichoke that grants eternal life to everyone who tastes it and brings it back to the village. That’s the journey that Tyler Kamen is taking us on in his latest progressive/psychedelic album “Artichoke Pythagorum” so, let’s see what’s going to happen.
We simply start with an “Introduction”, a fresh sound with positive vibes where we can picture the gnomes’ life at the beginning of our story. The gnomes start harvesting their “Stringbean” and they must’ve been doing it fast coz the groove on this one is pretty energetic. Tyler Kamen’s guitar melodies and licks are done with the right guitar tone, they and the organ complement each other in perfect harmony. We get closer to the gnome’s fast-paced lifestyle (or as I felt it from the music) as we welcome the king on “Gnome Village, Pt. 1 – King’s Welcome”. It has a heavy intro with some interesting guitar work that comes in hand with an equally interesting organ backed with heavy jazzy drumming. It keeps on progressing into a bigger sound with lots of melodies and fast movements with a pivot point at the chorus melody hailing the great gnome king. We get a totally different bass led, full of anticipation intro on “Gnome Village, Pt. 2 – Pumpkin Soup”, depending on a dominant vocal melody and bassline, it keeps on building and progressing till it picks the 1st part’s melody and movements connecting both parts. At this point of the story the “Dirt Bugs” attack begins, this one is well-engineered and well-planned, putting you right in the middle of their attack. The next one presents “The Artichoke” in the most proper way, a happy lively tune with bright memorable melodies, a bunch of well-layered and mixed new instruments, and a unique sound that’s different from the rest of the record and worthy of the plant that grants eternal life. Tyler Kamen steers his sound into a heavier and faster area with “Vegetable Bandits”. With more intense riffs, powerful vocals, and the main melody highly influenced by Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” he pictures the dangers that fall upon the gnomes’ journey. With some oriental vibes and tribal percussions comes “Riddles of Zezop Mcgregor” presenting a new character, it builds up into roller coaster melodies with insanely good drums and really nice vocal harmonies at the chorus.
“The Island” introduces us to a new place on their journey, it’s a mellow break with a dreamy hopeful sound that puts all the focus on the floating guitar melody and again remarkable drumming. “Wandering Woods” is where they find the artichoke and try to transport it home. Next comes “Flying Hippopotamus” starting with clean classic guitar and percussions then goes into a festive mood with bright happy melodies. The hero gnomes finally get back to the village with the artichoke and everyone gathers to get their piece at the “Bacchanalia”. This is my favorite track off the record as it gathers all the pros of Kamen’s songwriting all in perfect balance. It has an interesting structure with fluid melodies and dynamics, cool guitar work, drums and bass lines, and enjoyable progression that keeps escalating to an epic outro. “Conclusion” ends the story with some happy tunes reminding us of how it all sounded at the beginning and most probably, will make you play it all again from the top.
“Artichoke Pythagorum” is a massive effort by Tyler Kamen, it is well-written, layered, and arranged top-notch progressive rock. It draws a lot of influence from classic acts like King Crimson and Genesis while adding Kamen’s unique modern touch. The story is simple and interesting and he spared no effort in putting us right into it with sounds, effects, and samples. I think I’m going to dig deeper into Tyler Kamen’s cataloge while I wait for his next release, waiting for more, cheers!