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DO5 by Mahogany Frog

This 2008 effort marks the Canadian quartet’s fifth release and inaugural album for this estimable New York City-based progressive-rock and jazz record label. And after being afforded a chance to check out the band’s pre-release demo, I quickly realized that this prog-rock ensemble places great emphasis on composition. In addition, the analog engineering and strategic mic placement adds a broad sound stage to complement a hybrid, retro-modernist type muse. Thankfully, the band doesn’t place more importance on technical gymnastics yet the musicians are no slouches by any stretch.

With streaming crunch chords and knotty time signatures, the ensemble looms as a moveable wall-of-sound. But the key ingredient is centered within it’s shrewd arrangements and memorably melodic hooks. In effect, the album spawns a great deal of interest amid the instrumentalists’ occasional jaunts into jazz-rock territory, to coincide with a few interstellar meltdowns. They also communicate a tender side where guitarists/keyboardists Graham Epp and Jessie Warkentin employ their old time, but still loveable moogs and Farfisa organ to induce quaint melodies that shade the perimeter of several works.

The songs often project similarities to a rock-opera, where various movements interweave and spawn variable motifs that convey an interconnecting vibe. As they occasionally summon up notions of early ‘70s hard rock via distortion and feedback techniques while treating certain passages with majestic synth-horns choruses. Moreover, they touch upon the psychedelic element, partly due to church organ progressions and phased guitar passages as the latter, reminds me of the old days when guitarists would plug-in to a Hammond B3 organ Leslie speaker.

One of the many highlights pertains to the piece titled "Lady XOC & Shield Jaguar," where the band generates an endearing hook atop a carefree but forward-moving vibe. Here, the group instills a sense of endearment, nicely contrasted by the guitarists’ diminutive phrasings and wah-wah EFX.

Sure enough, this album signifies a wonderful entry into the modern day progressive-rock arena. Unlike many of its peers, this outfit truly makes a difference. Again, the compositions stick! And the overall program beckons repeated listens as I’ll go out on a short limb, asserting that many advocates of this genre will not be disappointed.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mahogany Frog
  • CD Title: DO5
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Moonjune Records
  • Musicians: Graham Epp & Jessie Warkentin (electric guitars, MicroMoog, Farfisa Organ, Farf Muff, ARP String Ensemble, Korg MS2000, electric & acoustic pianos), Scott Ellenberger (electric & acoustic bass, Briscoe organ, percussion), J.P. Perron (drums, conch & electronics), Graham Epp & Scott Ellenberger (trumpets)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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