The Audio Guide to Happiness Pt. I
I've got a complicated relationship with progressive metal, and so I feel kind of guilty attaching the term to Jolly’s latest work, “The Audio Guide to Happiness, Pt. I”, but everything about it is absolutely right. Somewhere along the line of Dream Theater’s rise to commercial fame in the mid 2000s, progressive artists started to forget about moving the genre forward. To clarify, I’m not accusing Dream Theater of selling out, because that’s absurd, but they’ve certainly lost the innovative spark. But, on topic, Jolly’s big publicity push for this record centers around the idea of “binaural tones”. It sounds like witchcraft, but the idea is that by playing two frequencies that are only a few hz apart, your brain generates a third tone that exists sort of in between the two. This much however is true. The controversial part is that if you play them out of separate sound sources, one in each ear (So through headphones), that the generation of this third tone actually alters the state of your brain, inducing a slow state of euphoria if done correctly.
Jolly did quite a bit of research into this idea, and actually did some tests on it and remains confident that it works, I’m here to say that much doesn’t really matter though. The music of Jolly has a much wider appeal than its (remarkable) production. My first full listen was on my jankity car speakers, and I can say that many more followed on a variety of different headphones and speaker systems. The compositions have a level of precision that I expect, and find, in most all progressive metal, but what separates this is the variety. There is no musical element that is left unattended, with excellent backing vocals, an earthy bass presence, soaring lead vocals, excellent drums, and very tasteful guitar presence. The number of influences expressed is also a huge bonus. One of my personal favorites on the record Pretty Darlin’ is an evil sounding ragtime number with chanting choirs and the very best of imitation classic rock guitar noodle, there’s even a background dive bomb for good measure. Say what? It’s executed perfectly. This is the type of stuff I wish modern progressive was doing more often.
The next song, titled The Pattern is much more in the shred prog territory. It has that pervasive mentality that gave birth to many of the complete technical overload bands that litter the scene today. The difference for Jolly is the atmosphere, the feeling, and the honest ability to still rock out while they let the fingers fly. Tracks like Storytime and Where Everythings Perfect represent Jolly’s mastery over the genre, and while I have been known to criticize records for being too short and not containing a centerpiece or a longer track, in the case of The Audio Guide to Happiness Pt. I, I make no such complaint. Songs range from a little under 4 minutes to about 6 and a half minutes in length, with 9 songs in total, and 3 transition tracks to guide the listener through the engineered sonic high. This is a record to be had.
Dagg’s rating: 4.75/5