What’s more fun than a duo of Stick and drums? How about a trio of two Sticks and drums! Geph, a Boston-based trio of Stickists Josh Goldberg and John Tyler Kent and drummer Josh Merhar, offer their own unique prog-metal-fusion take on the format first pioneered by Tony Levin’s Stick Men trio a decade ago.
For this kind of intricate, densely packed instrumental music, it’s an ideal ensemble, as the many sonic personalities and broad range of The Stick meet the power and clarity of the drums.
Goldberg and Kent craft myriad tones on their instruments, giving each track it’s own distinctive sonic blend, which makes the album a real pleasure for “deep listening”. Some of the sounds are slight twists on the familiar, but many are truly fresh. Heavy distorted grooves, deep percolating two-handed bass, light and airy synth tones, intricate layered melodic lines, each sound introduces its own polymetric lick or phrase that form the whole. Josh Merhar’s drums pound, propel and punctuate with precision, the perfect complement to the multifarious strings around him. Even in the heaviest passages, the band’s dynamic use of filtering, plus some great production, makes it easy to “listen in” to each individual voice, or “zoom out”, and enjoy the total sound.
A lot happens in this 40-minute outing, each track ends as distinctly as it began, and often not as you’d expect… At times the music is very chill and spare, but not for long, veering swiftly into thick but carefully multi-layered grooves, only to shift gears again a short while later. While all these surprises make for a fun first pass, this record also holds up really well on repeated listens.
1. Macroaggressions 7:41
2. Whole Body Headbang 4:40
3. Little Guy 2:40
4. Get Your Insignificance On 4:58
5. Mourningstar 6:23
6. W.W.F.D. 8:51
7. Back From Space Earth 5:40