Lo-Fi Resistance
Chalk Lines

First off, I have been a hardcore fan of Porcupine Tree for some time, and while it’s always been Mr. Steven Wilson that holds the creative mantle for their music, each of their members are at the top of their game. Most notably, Gavin Harrison has made a name for himself, not only for Porcupine Tree, but also for OSI and the indomitable King Crimson. In other words, when Gavin Harrison is part of a project, chances are it’s going to be great. This indication does not go astray on “Chalk Links”, the second and latest recording by Randy McStine. Under the name Lo-Fi Resistance, Stine comes together with some of the most talented and acknowledged musicians in progressive rock to create a stirring piece of art rock that affirms many of the things that make the modern progressive music scene so great. Although you may not have heard of Lo-Fi Resistance before, chances are that they won’t stay a kept secret for long.

In order to describe the sound of Lo-Fi Resistance on Chalk Lines, it may be helpful to list some of the people Randy has enlisted to help out with it. King’s X’s Dug Pinnick offers a contribution here, as well as John Giblin (ex-bassist for Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel) and Dave Kerzner (former keyboardist for Kevin Gilbert). On top of Gavin Harrison and his legendary precision with the drumkit, Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin, and live guitarist John Wesley are also present for part of the album. It should come as little surprise by this point, but comparisons to the sound of Porcupine Tree are virtually inevitable. The poignant simplicity of proverbially ‘good’ singer-songwriter music is fleshed out by an atmospheric production and sonic arrangement typical of the modern prog elite. Although the album’s closer “Face Another Day” between the fourteen and fifteen minute mark, Randy’s songwriting prefers to be concise whenever possible. The long-forgotten art of the chorus is rekindled here as well; suffice to say, there will be several vocal parts that you may find yourself at least humming along to by the second listen through. Perhaps above anything else, “Chalk Lines” reminds me of the mid-era Porcupine Tree, most notably “Lightbulb Sun” or “Signify”, where expansive Floydian arrangements contrasted yet complimented relatively ‘simple’ songwriting.

Arguably the best piece on the album is “The Fall”, a very vocal-driven piece that combines beautifully the merits of melancholy and rich ‘otherworldly’ atmosphere into one emotionally stirring experience. Although Randy’s big merit is his songwriting, he- and everyone else involved with this project- is also a great musician. Vocally, Randy’s voice fits quite well into the sort of post-progressive scene we’ve seen growing over the past couple of years; it wouldn’t be too difficult to see him singing a song by Marillion or Anathema. Although his vocals are not incredibly impressive on their own, his melodies are powerful, and the lyrics- passing me as a sort of sincere confessional- only serve to reinforce the feeling of ‘emotive prog’. Like myself, I’m sure many people came into listening to the album with an ear specifically on Gavin Harrison’s drum performance. It’s no surprise, obviously, but his performance is fantastic. It exudes professionalism and the sort of mechanical groove and precision that has earned him a spot at the throne of progressive drumming. As for the other collaborators here, it’s a little difficult to point out certain parts as being performed by a particular musician. This is not technically virtuosic music, but the overall impression here is one of professional musicianship and fine-tuned technique. Although Lo-Fi Resistance does not skirt closely enough to any band (including Porcupine Tree) to construe labelling them any brand of copycat, there is the impression that “Chalk Lines” would rather reinforce existing modern progressive ideas, rather than push the boundary further. This detail doesn’t hurt the musical experience or enjoyment any, but some sort of ‘new angle’ to the musical style may have seen Lo-Fi Resistance leave an even greater impression on me.

Although chances are you’ll have heard of Lo-Fi Resistance via the participation of Mr. Harrison, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s rare that an art rock album manages to combine the fundaments of solid songwriting, and the ambition of progressive rock into one seamless package. Modern progressive rock has another name to look out for, and that name is Lo-Fi Resistance.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Conor Fynes
March 22nd, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: JK

    Cool, my company made these CDs for Randy. It was a pleasure working with him.

    Great record too.


  2. Commented by: Michellle666

    I came across Chalk Lines song through a huge fan of PT and esp. of Gavin’s and I absolutely loved it. After a couple of years I thought about Lo-go again and got their album. It’s amazing, Fall is one of my favorites and going through some rough stuff at the moment, this piece of music has calming and healing effects, I swear. Thank you !!!


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