By Ryan Falla
Set and Setting is a band that builds their music up in a very unique and stylized fashion, looking to attack the brain as well of the souls of their audience with their prog-influenced instrumental build as a band. They take a massive risk with their third album ‘Reflectionless’, creating a high-concept piece that opts to explore down a path only Set and Setting could blaze. Not only do they challenge themselves with an album that adopts a unique formula, they push the limits even farther with drum work helmed by two men; Mark Etherington and Stephen Handal.
The drum work in this album is executed with phenomenal precision, leading to a foundation in production value and dynamics many albums would kill to run with out of the gate. Make no mistake, Set and Setting’s two-drummer build isn’t just a gimmick to create an artificial, titanic wall of percussion; Mark Etherington and Stephen Handal undertake different responsibilities and execute to perfection.
‘Reflectionless’ takes you on a journey of discovery and understanding with a somewhat modern prog approach that has strong flairs of the yesteryears of Yes. The dual guitar work of Shane Handal and Ryan Fugate is extremely fluid, building soft ethereal tones while simultaneously dropping seriously heavy ’90s prog riffs with tracks like ‘…The Mirrored Self’ and ‘Ephemerality’. My personal favorite style of work they utilize is when they play off serene and otherworldly tones on tracks such as ‘Saudade’ and ‘Spectacular Wavefront of…’. The bass work of Nick Sibilia is both subtle and outstanding, carving out a very strong presence while playing off the guitar tones that often reach for space with a very grounded low-end.
This album should come with a warning to those who have a hard time finding interest in deep conceptual prog work. The journey they take you on is fruitful throughout, although the instrumental prog approach that uses many dynamic changes leaves bits and pieces of music where the dynamics don’t hit as hard as they should. Concept albums need to jump more hurdles than the typical body of work since they rely heavily on building an emotional connection to a strong vision without losing grasp of this vision along the way.
Needless to say, Set and Setting leap over these hurdles no question, building a body of work with a vision that stays present from start to finish while skillfully handling the responsibilities of moving the concept along with strong dynamic presence and changes. When you listen to a prog concept album, you need to focus on how the musical scenery builds up to create an ultimately worthwhile journey, often taking more dedication as a listener as you unfurl the concept more and more with each sitting.
Set and Setting carves out a strong niche in the instrumental prog metal genre with ‘Reflectionless’, giving fans of prog rock/metal an enjoyable new twist on the genre to digest; a twist you can only find on ‘Reflectionless’.
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Record Label: Self
Release Date: January 27th 2017
02. Axiom Dream Within…
03. …The Idyllic Realm
04. Incandescent Gleam
05. Specular Wavefront Of…
06. …The Mirrored Self
07. Eternal Pendulum