Album Review: Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea

Album Review: Pure Reason Revolution - Eupnea

One of the most interesting progressive rock groups to emerge in England in the early 2000s was a Reading-based Pure Reason Revolution, who in the period between 2003 and 2011 launched a number of singles, two EPs and three studio albums before going an indefinite hiatus in 2011. When it seemed that the band is done, the duo of Jon Courtney and Chloe Alper were announced as co-headliners of 2019’s Midsummer Prog Festival. Almost a year later, and they are about to launch their fourth studio album entitled Eupnea via InsideOut Music.

Rejuvenated than ever, Pure Reason Revolution breathe a new life to their music with somewhat more organic approach, resulting in an album that strips away all the pretenses and takes progressive rock back to its logical basics: six motif-laden tracks are all there is to be found within the recording’s 48 minutes.  Whether or not cutting the line-up down to two has anything to do about the band’s sound feeling more unprocessed, on Eupnea Courtney and Alper in a way let classic influences to paint their soundscape by favoring spiraling arrangements which lend themselves to epic, far-reaching guitar clanks and perplexing sound effects.

Spectacular the music may be, but it’s the reflective lyrics that keep the album firmly on Earth. Eupnea’s songwriting takes on a darker and edgier nature, leaving its predecessors up in the clouds by comparison. “It’s a new regime / it’s a lighter way / but you give no space / you come in-between,” the duo sings on the opening “New Obsession,” a number that is in a continuous sonic motion finding a way to build and build upon it, and does no less than hold the listener’s attention for all of its five minutes. Upheaving into a chorus, it’s not unusual to hear a fluttering piano next to a segment of full-on rocking out, for example.

On one of the album’s centerpieces “Silent Genesis,” Pure Reason Revolution let both their emotions and ambitions run free. The texture and glazed-over harmonies are oozing, as thick as honey; the guitar weaves from one speaker to another, as the track lifts slowly towards hope and the bright side, while the relentless drum thumps into your consciousness throughout it all. Everything fits perfectly: clever crescendos provide a tingling sensation of comfort, and the moments of riffage are, simply said, spine tingling.

Pure Reason Revolution

On the other side of that, there are still four excellent slices of music to be heard, and signify a clear progression after “Silent Genesis”. “Maelstrom” is filled to the brim with fluffy piano chords that adorn the track with classic flourishes. There are moments of pristine beauty on the following “Ghosts & Typhoons,” a song that incorporates both singalong pop pieces and punishingly heavy passages. Elsewhere on the album, the beautiful ballad-turned-rocker “Beyond Our Bodies” utilizes layered vocal harmonies and flows smoothly into the closing title track. Taking time to build, Pure Reason Revolution carefully layer a segment upon segment of musical brilliance in “Eupnea” (the song) creating an epic piece that travels through the history of the progressive rock genre.

A fantastic interplay between celestial, soothing decors and huge walls of sound, Eupnea is like an ocean—so vast that it packs its many questions into your brain more than any of their other releases thus far. Holding together as one vast concept and as six masterful compositions, Eupnea kicks upstarts back into their place with a listen flooding with ideas. Whereas younger prog bands seem to feel the need to prove their worth through sudden time changes, technical skills rather than craftsmanship, and wildly enigmatic lyrics, Pure Reason Revolution’s art is much more subtle. It’s the kind of rare record that, long after it’s gone, leaves whispers in your ears. Pause and appreciate that grandeur. Breathe in its sanctity.

Eupnea is out on April 3rd via InsideOut Music; pre-order the album from this location. Like Pure Reason Revolution on Facebook.

Pure Reason Revolution - Eupnea

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