A new generation of musical talents are making their presence known. Retrosphere is a band that can easily be included among those ranks. Through colorful musical composition and a lush garden of ideas to pick from, they’ve proven to be both talented and resourceful in their craft. They approach music from an angle comprised of a completely DIY work ethic. That in itself is admirable but when you consider the actual fruits of their labor, there’s a lot to be interested in here.
The band is made up of two primary members that prove to be quite the force together. They are Byron Hernandez and Seamus McDaniel. They’re both guitar players and multi-talented artists pushing different boundaries of their own. They’ve both been playing since a young age (playing together since an AP Music Theory class in high school) and it’s translated into quite the skill set. With their powers combined, they weave together some awesome Progressive Metal / Progressive Rock type music through an instrumental medium.
This really shows on their new album by the name of “In Motion”. They cooked up no less than 40 minutes worth of music for this release. The composition matched with sheer attention to detail and taste make for quite a ride here. The full album is currently available for streaming and purchase at all major online outlets. You can scope it out by CLICKING HERE. We also had the honor of streaming “In Motion” from front to back over on The Circle Pit YouTube channel. You can give that a listen by pressing the play button down below. If you’d like to learn more about these artists as people, you can also hop over to an interview we recently conducted with them by CLICKING HERE.
Now! Into the meat of this motion…
Hook, line, and sinker. The first track on this album is a catch. “Fast Forward” might just might make the listener want to pause and repeat. It immediately displays the chops of these young guitarists put in motion (pun intended). The artists themselves have marked down this number as one of their favorites for good reason. The riffs put on display here are hard to deny and only mark the beginning of the journey to be found on this record…
“Viridian” is a track that immediately shows great taste. Notes weave in and out through changes of pace and feeling as a follow up to a great opener but… In my opinion, “Atmos” is where this record really reaches level number 2. It brings some very nice subtle elements into the fold with a clean sense of composition and atmosphere. The basslines are also quite notable as the guitars pull some awesome feats.
I’ve always enjoyed a child like sense of wonder in my prog music but “Here Again” is something entirely different. It signals the same concept that artists like Plini bring from time to time but comes at it from an angle of growing up which strikes me as an equally awesome style… Or at least that’s how I perceived it. For all I know, Bryon and Seamus are on an entirely different page.
That brings me to a point though… Many of the tracks on this LP paint a picture with a full setting which is something that cannot be overlooked. From more obvious numbers like “Waves” and the aforementioned “Atmos” to more subtle surroundings like “Order I” and the previously named “Viridian”, the effort of musical illustration is clearly present on “In Motion”. That’s probably the reason why the word “colorful” is always popping up in my head while listening.
“Burst” turns things in a bit more of a contemporary direction, starting with the clicks of trap high hats in the same way that a band like Polyphia might. It’s one of the two tracks featuring a cameo. Liza Grishaeva brings a very tasty approach around the 3 and a half minute mark which breaks things up nicely. The other cameo comes from Jeremy Hook on “Solstice” which is an impressive fireworks display of guitar riffage.
I have to say the synths towards the beginning of “Rogue” kind of set my teeth on edge but it quickly compensates with some wicked wizardry on the guitars. Talk about bouncing back!
Also, for the record, “Order I” and “Order II” make for a nice ending to “In Motion”. They form a certain duality with Pt. I working as a build up to the catharsis of Pt. II. They belong hand in hand so don’t be skipping around these tracks!
To be perfectly honest, my least favorite part of this album is the production. It’s most of the way there but lacks the beautiful clarity and natural feeling found in the music of contemporaries like Intervals and Plini. I understand it’s hard to compete with those standards… BUT if Retrosphere polish their music to a new level and throw in a real drummer, they’ll be some fierce competition. Almost all the other elements from talent to taste to foresight are already present. It’s hard to deny some math like that. While I think the total DIY approach of Retrosphere is one of their best qualities, it might not hurt to either a) continue working on and perfecting all elements of audio production or b) outsource themselves to a new level of clarity with some of the proven entities out there. On another level, I believe Retrosphere themselves understand these limitations and prefer the path a) approach because from my very first interactions with them, they were looking to improve and expand in any way possible. I respect that 100%.
If I were to sum up Retrosphere with a single word, it would be potential. The talent here is bursting at the seams and it’s not hard to see these artists taking things to the next level one way or another. It should be exciting to see where they go next through continued musical evolution, a professional attitude, and a noteworthy work ethic. Give them another LP or two and people might just be calling favorites!
To conclude, the duration of “In Motion” blurs between a 7.5 and an 8.5 in my mind which naturally lands them a solid 8 on the scale. This debut full-length is a commendable effort that could easily be recommended to the prog heads of this world. This is certainly a band to watch out for!
Once again, you can look into their music via the stream provided above and by CLICKING HERE for plenty more stream and purchasing options. If you wish to follow along and support Retrosphere directly, you can also give them a sub on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and check their Official Website. Keep your ears to the Earth’s sphere for whatever may appear up next from this band’s career! Until then…