Search - Thinking Plague :: In Extremis

In Extremis
Thinking Plague
In Extremis
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Thinking Plague
Title: In Extremis
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Cuneiform
Original Release Date: 10/13/1998
Re-Release Date: 9/8/1998
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Styles: Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 045775011325

CD Reviews

Thinking Plague's New Birth
Lord Chimp | 11/14/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Listening to RIO,(Rock in Oposition),May be for many an experience in consternation best forgotten, while for others it is a palatial palace of wonderment and delight. Time changes galore, instrumentation in all directions, and rarely a recognized melodic structure within listening distance. One must approach said musical event with some sort of reverent dedication in hopes of making sense of it all. Recalling my first encounter with Henry Cow in 1972, I simply never gave up searching for that one unifying moment where enlightenment and insight led to a transformational moment of amazement and appreciation and now consider myself amongst the Cows constituency of dedicated listeners. Now here we are in 1998 and Thinking Plague have just released something called "In Extremis" and I find myself listening with the same amount of enthusiasm that transformed my experiences of 1972. "In Extremis" is, quite simply put, an awe inspiring continuation in experimental purity, executed with a musical depth and magnitude in intuitive abilities from all involved, that place the crown of *classic* upon its title. Mike Johnson and company have taken the foundations of every definable form of music, shaken it, stirred it, and mixed it into a cohesive and rapturous listening experience, making it one of the most thought provoking and stimulating releases of this year, bar none. In order for RIO to become palatable for my digestion it must contain elements of a very pronounced bass and drum pattern that allows the other various instrumentation to soar to expressive forms of flight, and David Kerman(Drums)along with Mark Harris supply more than enough, taking it even further out and into areas less explored, building into one monstrous force. Deborah Perry's vocal presentations weave pleasantly throughout, complimenting the ambient atmosphere to which it is attached. With a potpourri of musical instruments at hand, Mike Johnson creates a canvas with such potential energies, it will simply pull you into its vortex of sounds, uniting soul,mind and spirit into one resounding never ending bliss, reshaping and enhancing your aural abilities, giving you new ears to hear with. The centerpiece of this seven track epic is "Les Etudes D Organism", containing a whirling, spiraling firestorm of creativity, picking you up and dropping you in the middle of nowhere, welcoming you to the outer limits of the inner mind. A stellar performance by all involved, this piece of music stands up to any of the classics of the genre, past as well as present. Ten years the predecessor to "In This Life", "In Extremis" is a work that has finally surfaced for all to behold and become enthralled in its beauty and brilliance. I only hope Mike Johnson doesn't take as long with the next installment. But for now "In Extremis" holds court in my CD player as well as in my enjoyment and appreciation for musical genius such as this. "In Extremis" is a good beginning point for anyone wanting to experience RIO at its most elegantly performed heights or for any of those already seasoned in its finite possibilities. One not to be missed."
My least favorite Plague album, but don't let that stop you
A. Temple | Ann Arbor, MI | 01/06/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"_In This Life_ is my favorite album in all rock, so this was kind of disappointing. The main problem I have with _In Extremis_ is the overly "proggy" sound; earlier Plague albums took elements of 70's symphonic prog, but they used their synths tastefully and never overdid it. Some of the actual sounds here, though, are just downright cheesy. And I won't even go into the painful lyrics.That said, the four shorter tracks on this album are all musically excellent and wonderfully complex, and would be absolutely fantastic if they had different arrangements. The first two, especially, hold up as some of the best songs TP has ever done, from a purely musical perspective. And although Mellotron moments abound, they're not everywhere-- the parts of the album that don't sound cheesy have a nice dark feel similar to the song "Warheads" from the band's second album, _Moonsongs_.There are two other problems I have with this album. The more minor of the two is singer Deborah Perry, certainly a good vocalist but somewhat flat (in affect, not pitch) in comparison to previous singers Susanne Lewis or Sharon Bradford. More importantly, the long tracks on this album just don't appeal to me that much. "This Weird Wind" seems badly put together, and has a distinct Yes-like vibe that annoys me, probably as a result of Bob Drake's rather Jon-Anderson-like voice. It's also got some amazingly tacky "dark"-sounding voice alterations. "Kingdom Come", too, seems to me to go on too long. Lead guitarist and composer Mike Johnson says it requires more "passive or meditative" listening than most Plague. Fine, I guess it's just not for me.And then there's "Les Etudes d'Organism." This takes two of my absolute favorite Plague songs, "Etude for Combo" (from _Moonsongs_) and "Organism" (from _In This Life_) and combines them into one of my least favorite. I can't say exactly what annoys me about this. Maybe the circus-music section just doesn't work for me (although I love the one at the end of "Love" on _In This Life_). Maybe it's just those damn synths. I don't know. But this song, except for maybe the first three minutes, fails to move me in any way.Don't get me wrong, of course. The worst album by the best band is still a good album, it's just not up to their former standards. If you like Yes and King Crimson, you'll probably like this a lot more than I do. And as for my complaints about structure, I'm just obsessive, and most people probably won't even notice. So yeah, progheads trying to get into avant-prog, check this out. But if you don't like, go to _In This Life_ instead."
And when you meet the plague you will die.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 02/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Their first album after almost ten years, Thinking Plague returns with what is a beast of an avant-rock album. Most notable changes: the wonderful anti-prog voice of Susanne Lewis is gone, replaced with the talented Deborah Perry; Bob Drake is no longer a central member (although he does perform bass and vocals on "This Weird Wind"); the one-of-a-kind Dave Kerman fills in on drums (both groovy and weird). There are more synths in the sound this time, but they mostly act as stage lighting. When they do take a more dominant role in the arrangement, their gritty tones fit nicely with the band's weirdness. As with _In This Life_, the reeds are very important here, and the music has an aggressive, edgy chamber-prog kind of sound. The short songs are all essential Plague tunes -- concise, punchy, complex, and catchy, and wickedly contrapuntal, atonal, and full of inventive, complex rhythms. "Dead Silence" sounds like a myriad catchy parts assembled into an inharmonious relationship...that still manages to be captivating. "Aesthete" is convoluted math-rock a la Plague. "Behold the Man" is downright groovy (yes, Thinking Plague actually grooves), and also frighteningly dense and aggressive.The two 14-minute epics are excellent and merely good, so somewhat mixed. "Kingdom Come" is one of my favorite Thinking Plague pieces, developing ominously for about ten minutes, finally peaking with a nasty tangle of atonal cacophony, and ending with an unsettling soundscape of apocalyptic dread. It is probably their most haunting song yet. "L'Etudes d'Organism" is a little less successful, in my opinion. It is based on motifs from past Thinking Plague masterpieces, "Organism" (from _In This Life_) and "Etude for Combo" (from _Moonsongs_). There are some great parts, but I'm ambivalent about the wacky, circus-music middle-section -- on the one hand, it doesn't seem to gel with the darker feel of the band's music in general -- on the other hand, it's twistedly fun and deranged and kinetic. The beginning is rearranged take on the piano & guitar meltdown from the beginning of "Organism". The ending is mostly an ambient flow, surprisingly haunting and unsettling after the madcap middle section. It lasts a little long but it is good (between here and the next album, _A History of Madness_, composer Mike Johnson really mastered the soundscapey stuff).The other epic, "This Weird Wind", is about 8 or 9 minutes and rather Yes-sounding, due mostly to Bob Drake's voice, which is eerily similar to Jon Anderson. Actually it doesn't _really_ sound like Yes -- that would only be true Yes' actual musicians came from a alien bizarro version of the world in all those Roger Dean paintings. It's an eerie piece, but it seems a little out of place at times.This seems to be the favorite Thinking Plague album, particularly among 'normal' prog fans, even though it is definitely not flonkus prog. Even saying that this is usually the number one choice, most people will still find it unpleasant, so it is not necessarily accessible. Personally I think _Moonsongs_, _In This Life_, and _A History of Madness_ are better. Still, this album is outstanding anyway you cut it (and Kerman's drumming is phenomenal), so if you enjoy the Plague you'd be a fool not to have this. They are one of the best bands ever, and everything of theirs is worth having."