Grown from the seed of acts like Yes and King Crimson, The Aaron Clift Experiment makes even the prog rock traditionalists proud with this latest effort, Lonely Hills. Lying somewhere between the traditional tempos of something like Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and the clean vocal and fusion renderings of a Porcupine Tree, Aaron Clift is the drawbridge that rests over that turbulent moat known as progressive music.
Aside from a pristine clean vocal sound, Clift takes instrumentation in every direction. The band goes from a gentle tinkling to a full blown organ sound, and the guitar sound follows suit. You can hear light strumming at one moment, and hear intense solos and picking techniques the next. All of this varying instrumentation coordinates very nicely with the mood of these songs, too. One problem I notice with many proggers, especially much of the new breed, is that they cram as much music as they can into every second, just because they can. Sure, they can play, but much of what’s being played feels out of place within the context of the songs. Nothing really feels out of place here. Clift crafts fairly complex themes and rhythms, and keeps them on track with patience and a humble approach.Clift combines eloquent and aggressive qualities into songs that are deeply lyrical and well-versed. There is a journey to be taken while listening to these songs, and for me that is one of the most appealing aspects of progressive music. “Prog” means something a little different for everyone that stumbles over it. For some it’s the atmospheric storytelling through song, for others it’s simply the expert musicianship that can sometimes soar to heights that popular music just won’t attempt. No matter what type of prog fan, I think The Aaron Clift Experiment can hold a place in anyone’s menagerie.