Pirate – Left of Mind

Although there was a fairly distinct sound for ‘progressive rock’ back in the ’70s, the genre has become so heterogeneous that it becomes difficult to pinpoint what modern prog has become. To find some semblance of the present ‘prog’ sound, I often try to look at current sounds of modern rock music, and then see which contemporary acts take that sound to a new height. If that is the definition of modern prog, then Pirate certainly fits the bill. Although there is a rich sax presence in their music, Pirate often reminds me of much of today’s alternative rock, with melancholic yet often catchy songwriting, fuzzy guitar textures, and driving bass lines. ‘Left Of Mind’ does not explore regions of alt-prog that haven’t already been tread and marked, but their take on it is powerful and energetic.

‘Left Of Mind’ is a fairly short album, but one is able to get a good bearing of what this band is all about, based on the music they have made here. The album starts on a fairly alt-rocky note, with rock rhythms driving behind some odd distorted vocorder vocals. As the album goes on however, the music of Pirate evolves into a much jazzier sound beginning with the soft ‘Finish’, continuing with ‘Creepy’, and ultimately culminating with the two killer last tracks, ‘Daggers’ and ‘Time Minus Five’. The jazz sound is brought forth by Pirate’s use of the saxophone, an instrument that vocalist Joel Woolf totes around like an urbane Ian Anderson. Although a distinct sound is hard to pinpoint at the start of the album, by the end of it, Pirate sound much like a less-chaotic version of The Mars Volta. There is not a sense that Pirate are ‘hacking’ the sound from TMV though, their use of the saxophone is both effective and sincere.

Joel’s saxophone work is incredible, and ‘Left Of Mind’ would have been a potentially greater album if it did not take half an album for the sounds of the sax to be properly introduced. His vocals are less successful however; there is little idea here what Joel’s voice¬†actually sounds like, because his voice has been teched out to the point where it’s anyone’s guess. In general, Woolf’s vocals are either distorted (think ’21st Century Schizoid Man’) or given a robotic texture, like Cynic. If there is a big issue with ‘Left Of Mind’, it is that it is too brief for a listener to form a full opinion on them. They are evidently talented and energetic, but not enough ideas are let loose in the chicken coop for Pirate to take the prog world by storm… yet.


1. Left Of Mind 04:29
2. Animals Cannibals 02:54
3. Rough Shuffle 03:55
4. In The Balance 04:52
5. Finish 02:03
6. Creepy 03:28
7. Daggers 04:09
8. Time Minus Five 05:18


* Shan Abey – guitar
* Tim Adderley – drums
* Ben Norvill – bass
* Joel Woolf – sax, vocals



1 Comment

  1. N

    October 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Great music but i don’t like the vocal.

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