Ok Goodnight – The Fox and the Bird (2023)

Ok Goodnight - The Fox and the Bird (2023)
Artist: Ok Goodnight
Album: The Fox and the Bird
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: De Ligma Records
Year Of Release: 2023
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

Tracklist:
01. The Drought (2:57)
02. The Fox and the Bird (4:40)
03. The Raccoon (and the Myth) (4:59)
04. The Journey (2:09)
05. The Snake (3:43)
06. The Nightmare (3:01)
07. The Falcon (6:12)
08. The Dream (1:50)
09. The Bear (5:06)
10. The Crocodile (5:12)
11. The Bird (3:08)
12. The Mountain (5:31)
13. The Rain (3:17)

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Personnel:
– Casey Lee Williams / lead vocals
– Martin Gonzalez / guitar
– Martín de Lima / keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
– Augusto Bussio / drums, backing vocals
– Peter de Reyna / bass
– Elizabeth Hull / lead vocals & co-writer (8,12), Fx (6)

As you restack old papers, books, a photo album that you’ve carried from life to life, a curious container, flaps creased, folded and dusty, steals your gaze. A careful pry open reveals further scuffed objects, but not ones immediate in memory. The objects are familiar, though, familial even as you glance upon a name or two on faded documents, but one thing stands out in the shuffle: a gently worn copy of something called The Fox and the Bird signed Ok Goodnight. The discolored prose-filled paper wears time more noticeably than the heavier cover. On the inside corner a blue-inked scribble reads “Thirteen chapters that we hope find you whenever you may need them.” The fantastical forest life that rests in your hands possesses a mystical vibrancy. But to the foreign aphorism contained within, is today really the day you need this eclectic collection? The Fox and the Bird rustles along undaunted.

Four years Ok Goodnight has pondered on their whimsical blend of art rock, math rock, and prog. Each member fresh off a stint at Berklee, and with frontwoman Casey Lee Williams additional years of experience as the voice of the RWBY soundtracks, Ok Goodnight felt it best to take a low and slow approach for this full-length follow-up to their debut. Movement permeates instrumental chases as this character-driven opus unfolds (“The Journey,” “The Nightmare,” “The Dream”). And with snappy syncopated guitar plucking and tasteful polymeter shuffles bouncing around the most progressive-leaning numbers (“The Snake,” “The Falcon,” “The Crocodile”), Ok Goodnight finds themselves in solid company of 70s-minded contemporaries with a modern alternative edge like Kingcrow or Riverside. Not a single set of limbs or vocal chords lagged on prior outings, but time has lent itself well to the cinematic nature of this group’s vision.

Expression, experience, and education collide to help Ok Goodnight find unique rhythms and melodies. Particularly behind the kit, Augusto Bussio (Atomic Guava) slams out wildly shifting rhythms to bend around slippery verse work (“The Snake”) and uses splashy cymbal spreads to give space for huge chorus swoop ins (“The Falcon”). The tension-building groove and blaring harmony of “The Journey” may resemble a Petrucci run-off, but as soon as Martin Gonzalez’s (Atomic Guava) jazz-kissed and restrained leads kick in, the potentially overwhelming histrionics of the build dissipate. “The Bear” charges forth with a piano march and cymbal stride that could have introduced the best Leprous song1 in the past five years, but the duet of Williams and guest vocalist Elizabeth Hull (Atomic Guava) turn the track elegantly down a frantic and thespian pathway. Williams’ voice has too much power to ignore, from the introductory reverberations in “The Drought” to the off-kilter slither of “The Snake” and the accepting cries that drench “The Rain,” her contributions tame the frenzy of all that surrounds.

Yet in true prog and high fantasy fashion, Ok Goodnight, despite the restraint on display, finds a way to prance and wander in beautiful but puttering excursions. Sometimes, as on the early “The Fox and the Bird” and “The Raccoon,” the duel and convergence of gentle guitar and synth serves both a thematic element and plays off as a modern-day Pat Metheny vs Lyle Mays soundscape. However, the false ending and subsequent Dream Theater escalating solos on “The Falcon” and similar trade-offs on the extended “The Mountain,” Ok Goodnight indulges to a lesser narrative their apparent virtuosity. The first half of the album smoothly cycles its various characters and moods, but post “The Dream” many of the transitions render as fadeouts, another bump that drags the conclusion over the 52-minute course—not exceedingly long, but not always validated.

Regardless, Ok Goodnight has grown impressively since 2019’s Limbo, which makes sense given that, at the time of recording, barely any of the group had even seen two decades of life. The Fox and the Bird realizes more the potential that rests in their nimble and unrestrained conceptualization of progressive music. It’s hard to say exactly what the future holds for Ok Goodnight, as in the tumult of youth one member (Gonzalez on guitar) will be departing post-release, but the spirit of creation does not appear to be empty in anyone involved. Either way, The Fox and the Bird exists now and whenever else it calls to you. And wherever these folks land next, keep an eye out. Greatness is only a step away.
~ By Dolphin Whisperer, angrymetalguy

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