BEN SEIGEL – Welcome to Flyover Country
When Ben Seigel is not busy at his day job or busy running the popular madisonmusicians.net website, he makes music. For as long as I’ve known Ben, and that’s been several years, he has been putting this album together. Unable to find musicans that were willing to commit to a full-time project or band, he finally assembled his music by seeking out collaborators from around the country. He’s struck gold too, landing the sensational Milwaukee guitarist Kirk Tatnall and several other professionals with long lists of credentials.
In this day and age of flying virtual tracks through the ether, allowing anyone in the world to add parts, can result in a less than dynamic element of human interaction. Flyover Country suffers from this a bit as the somewhat mechanical assemblage of parts, numerous edits and copious overdubbing becomes obvious. But that aside, this is a great album that is full of tasteful arranging and melodic development.
Particularly of note are the rhythm section performances. Seigel’s brother Matt (drummer for Former Future) shines throughout, especially on the instrumental “Organic Fuit Car Disaster.” Tatnall is somewhat reserved in his playing throughout the album but on this track he explodes with Allan Holdworth-like dexterity, displaying the fire he’s known for. Bassist Chris Kringel (also living in Milwaukee now) glows on everything he touches here as does bassist Brian Calhoun ,who plays on two tracks including the aforementioned “Organic Fuit Car Disaster.” Fellow Madisonian Scott Schroedl (Tamboura, Heartbreaker, Altered Five) drums on three tracks as well, including the standout second track, mentioned in more detail below.
Musically, this album owes a large debt to Rush, an unabashed influence, but this is far from being a clone band. Seigel has an ability to develop a melodic idea and he keeps every track interesting with several left turns, meter changes and modulations. Vocally, his voice is pleasing but with limited range. He makes the best with those limitations, however, seldom stretching beyond his limits. He also lays a foundation of keyboard layers that are sonically pleasing and diverse.
The second track on the album, and its longest at 7:14, is a killer. “Seasons of the Mind” boasts a fine melody and chorus line and is arranged quite well. The middle section is an extended devlopment of the intro that circles around to find the chorus for one last reprise. The guitar/bass riff that lifts the song off is an ear-grabber, very Rush-like.
“Borders Drawn and Rearranged” is another standout, an energetic slice of progressive elctronica with some spectaular drumming by Elad Fish, an Isreali-born session player now living in Los Angeles.
This album is simply too good to escape notice. Seigel is on to something here and if he could assemble a performing group that could reproduce the excitement in these compositions, that would be interesting indeed and would surely launch him into an international arena.