Stress to Impress by Milton Man Gogh

Release date: October 10, 2017
Label: Art As Catharsis Records

It seems to be a favorite expression to label anything coming from Australia as coming from “down under”. It certainly has a lot to do with the Eurocentric concept by which the maps of the world are produced. But, maps can be deceptive, and if you, for example, turn one around down under becomes, “there on top”.

Probably sounds a bit warped, but then so does the Australian humor, often used in the music coming from that continent too (forget Man In Hats!). The case in point is the Brisbane trio, Milton Man Gogh. A warped name maybe (and the album cover to match), but it is funny and it works. It doesn’t stop there with these guys. On their debut Stress to Impress, that Aussie sense of humor continues in that same frame with titles like ‘When a King Eats a Suspect Heart’, ‘Green Eggs And Sam’ and ‘Running on Feels’.

When Andrew Saragossi (tenor sax), Zac Sakrewski (bass & effects) and Benjamin Shannon (drums & percussion) were asked to explain a bit about their music, they said that they try to cover everything from Meshuggah and Donny McCaslin to Aphex Twin and Bela Bartok. Another Aussie joke, you might think. Could be, but then when you listen to the album, you might just start scratching your head. Saragossi is an obvious jazz buff with leanings to classic players like Albert Ayler, his sound a bit comparable to current players like James Brandon Lewis and Binker Golding of the London duo Binker & Moses. Sakrewski is the classical/prog rock guy with his angular runs and effects and Shannon has obviously a large heavy metal collection or has previously played in a metal band or both.

Describing their sound in such a manner could lead you to expect yet another joke, or more of a disparate shambles – classical-tinged prog/jazz for metal fans. Yet it all when the opener ‘Quit While You’re Ahead’ starts and through all of the other seven tracks it all slowly starts to make sense. Milton Man Gogh manages to bring all these disparate musical elements into a musical whole that not only makes sense, but is primarily listenable and thoroughly enjoyable for all who are willing to listen without sticking prejudice plugs into their ears. The clincher here is ‘Fork (In a World of Soup)’ that appears here twice (one is a single version), which gives all three players a chance to show what they know without the “watch my hands” show-off, often associated with prog, jazz, and metal.

An interesting road ahead for these guys, maybe next time around they will throw in Kylie Minogue into the mix. Just for the heck of it.

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