In 2015 the US-progressive rock outfit 3RDegree released the album Ones & Zeros : Volume 1 (see review). To promote this release, the band embarked on an European tour which brought them to countries such as France and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands I witnessed them at 't Blok in Nieuwerkerk aan de IJssel (see review). During their excellent performance they not only played songs from the album they promoted. But also tracks taken from their back catalogue and even some brand new music. The brand new music was planned to be released on their upcoming album. Titled Ones And Zeros: Volume 0, or 2, they hadn't decided yet which number it would get. Now three years later finally the follow up to Ones & Zeros : Volume 1 is released and indeed got the title Ones And Zeros: Volume 0. And indeed some of the music I heard three years ago can be found on this release.
The very strongly produced Ones & Zeros: Volume 0 is of course the sequel, or a sister album from Ones & Zeros: Volume 1 and deals with the challenges, possibilities and dangers associated which go hand in hand with the digital age. The title is a good example of the humour that is also found in the lyrics. In the digital age volume 1 may of course follow volume 0. Or vice versa. Since we are dedicated to the topic of the internet and computers, naming is no longer so strange, because we know what the combination of numbers 1 and 0 in the digital world means.
The album begins with the short but very strong instrumental Re1nstall Overture, which brings back some of the musical themes of its predecessor. The album continues with more or less shorter songs on which the magic most of all lies in the arrangements. The backing vocals and harmonies are not rare on most of these songs and give them even more colour. There are many details in the songs. I like the freshness and the sometimes cheeky ideas, especially in the vocals and of course the bitter evil satirical lyrics. But also the character of the production with the bass in the foreground, mixed well with the sounds with the keyboards. Sometimes the arrangements also get a slightly electronic touch, as the vocals are mainly accompanied by a discreet electronic rhythm and the spherical keyboard instruments. The interaction of the instrumental and vocal contributions, which complement each other, makes the compositions and arrangements of 3RDegree certainly a listening pleasure for me.
One of the musical highlights on the album is without any doubt the fifteen minutes long Click Away! on which I was able to make out traces of The Beatles from their more mature days. On the other hand the guitar-accented instrumental passage lets you think of Genesis. The Logical Conclusion is certainly another song which fully got my attention all the way through.
Finally some words about the slim digipak with many zeros and ones printed on it. The cover shows a sleeping naked lady but also shows very cleverly a human face and a beautiful white swan wrapped around the naked body. Just like with the bands compositions the cover shows some special details as well. Something which is always a good thing to notice!
3rdegree is a band that knows how to develop from album to album and always improve. Also with this new release they surpass themselves again. As for myself Ones & Zeros: Volume 0 is probably their finest work to date. And if you like for example The Beatles, Echolyn, Gentle Giant, Little Atlas, Spock's Beard, Izz, you will certainly enjoy this album. A great album which should be heard by every progressive rock lover out there. Your best to this point without any doubt!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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