Spock's Beard Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep

Spock's Beard Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
7
The departure of a lead singer is a loss that cripples most acts. Fans wondered how Los Angeles prog rockers Spock's Beard would weather frontman Neal Morse's 2002 exit after six classic albums. They quickly rebounded, with drummer Nick D'Virgilio stepping up to the mic for another decade and four more records before quitting. Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep, their 11th studio album, finds Enchant singer Ted Leonard and drummer Jimmy Keegan (both of whom played in Spock's Beard at one time or another) assuming their positions as permanent members, causing the group to sound as vibrant as ever. As Leonard's vocal range approaches that of Trevor Rabin, the Yes references abound throughout this double-CD of strong material. Ryo Okumoto's keyboards in "Something Very Strange" are very Rick Wakeman-like, and guitarist Alan Morse answers every note in kind in a swashbuckling display of virtuosity, while Morse's Steve Howe tendencies marry perfectly with Dave Meros's Chris Squire inspirations in "Waiting for Me." Within one song — namely "The Man You're Afraid You Are" — the group swing from the ponderously poppy choruses of Galactic Cowboys offshoot Gristle to the noodly chord repetitions of Robert Fripp's the League of Gentlemen, as played by Fragile-era Howe. "Down a Burning Road" lopes along like Pink Floyd's "Pigs," as covered by the Flower Kings. Once again, Spock's Beard turn the tragedy of losing key band members into triumph, as Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep gives prog fans more of what they crave most. (Inside Out)