A few weeks ago I received an unexpected note from an editor at the newly relaunched UK magazine Prog – perhaps the best known and respected print journal of progressive rock. My new album Super Brain was getting a review!
“Ben Sommer’s complex art-rock makes an instant impression, effortlessly flitting between classic and progressive, while lyrically evoking more than a little bit of healthy punk rock cynicism. The most all-pervading influence however is that of Frank Zappa, both in the playful approach Sommer takes to the lyrics and the way the musical arrangements fit together. More than anywhere else this streak is evident on the a capella Consumerism. Here with a single word (shopping) arranged into a multi-part harmony, Sommer delivers a blunt critique of modern consumer culture – even if the detail in his manifesto is obscure. Count To Twelve on the other hand draws out some more esoteric art-rock tendencies, and brings jazz resolutely into his sonic palette for the first time.
While the lyrics are more throwaway, the instrumentation is dense, and the textures employed to weave his tapestry are intensely rewarding. The focal point is established by way of a segue into the Rush-like Dark Grey Matter, and the second half of the album consequently feels substantially more coherent. Though it isn’t an easy listen, strong melodies and detail teased out by repeated plays bear all the hallmarks of a cult classic.”