The word 'progressive' is coming to be abused but still has more than sufficient legitimacy in groups like the Infinite Partials. One of the reasons others mis-cite the term is through an ignorance of where such things as 'progressive folk' began. It wasn't with the intriguing 'weird folk' movement of the past decade or so, not at all, but rather in the Strawbs, String Driven Thing, It's a Beautiful Day, John Martyn, even later Van der Graaf Generator, and others. Those estimables endeavored quite successfully to amalgamate the classical and jazz adjuncts that progrock was utilizing to marvelous effect, expanding tonal palettes appreciably. Sometimes, this merely meant switching or interpolating modalities, other times it required importing exotic instruments. Infinite Partials has done both, and End of Begin drips with violins, cellos, violas, djembe, and so on.
The tempos and vocals base themselves most firmly in folk tradition, but a very strong World influence quickly ducks in to bolster the milieu while retaining infectious grooves familiar to all ears. Then cuts like Texas Song slot interweaving solo sections for the strings to swoop and soar, furthering the clear progressive wont in improv. The foundation ensemble is a foursome augmented by a number of session musicians sitting in to widen the sound, filigreeing bars and measures. Grant Hudson's the singer, frequently accompanied by Amy Downing, and the CD was recorded in open spaces, either living rooms or large vaulted areas, so the feel is of a concert but without all the crowd noise.
Every cut here sparkles with invention and nuance. More than once, the prairie slips in to remind everyone where we are, but Infnite Partials travels well outside dusty lanes and worn paths. More than anything else, I hear generous doses of It's a Beautiful Day, and that's a sound too long missing. One small hope for the future: guys, please record the next CD in a studio. There's such a wealth of dynamics and layers here that the successor effort can only shine like a diamond under such conditions. The richness of the compositions and instances like the polyphonal movements between cello and main themes, as in Fear of Death, will gain breathtaking dimension. Meanwhile, though, I'll very happily content myself with this great disc.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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