Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Up Close and Personal with The Alea Dilemma

Hello fellow progheads!  Time is running out on 2015 faster than people's faith in government--and I thank you for carving out some of that precious time to join me back here in the Concert Closet.  The search for all things prog these past 11+ months traveled many a tangent road discovering many great, new, up-and-coming prog bands along the way.  The Alea Dilemma is no exception--I had the privilege of reviewing the band's debut album "Within the Clamor of Voices" when it was released in October.

Now that Danny, Ryan, and Todd have had an opportunity to let everything sink in, it seems only fitting that the Concert Closet take one more jaunt to Kansas City and talk with the guys behind the instruments.  So I bring to you my fellow progheads the final interview for 2015 as the Concert Closet talks with Danny Brymer and peels back the curtain on The Alea Dilemma...

Closet Concert Arena: First of all, congratulations on the release of  "Within the Clamor of Voices!"  How have sales been, and what does it feel like to have your work out there for the world to hear?

The Alea Dilemma: Thank you Vinny!  Sales have been OK.  We are a new band playing
non-mainstream music so there are definitely some challenges.  However; we have been seeing a steady increase in sales and awareness.  We recently had some sales in London and a radio station in Sweden contacted us interested in promoting our music among other stations and publications.  We are very glad to discover our music has global appeal.

Closet Concert Arena: Why progressive rock; what led you guys to this genre?

The Alea Dilemma: There is no one style of music that completely satisfies me; I love the artful excellence of classical, the harmonic complexity and intensity of jazz, and the sheer power of
rock 'n' roll.  Progressive  comes the closest to being a complete style for the three of us having come from all those backgrounds.  We wanted to craft a powerful yet aesthetically excellent art form. Progressive rock is such a profound medium with which to accomplish that while remaining unique within the genre, as shown from the artists who have influenced us.

Closet Concert Arena: You're based in Kansas City, MO; any plans to expand beyond that region when touring?   

The Alea Dilemma: It is definitely in the works, yes.  I used to play in the Aaron Clift Experiment out of Ausitn, TX and I still remain in contact with them.  There is the possibility of a Texas "mini tour," performing with them for one show among others.  The Alea Dilemma absolutely wants to break out beyond the Kansas City area and expand.

 Closet Concert Arena: There are definite jazz and metal influences scattered throughout your music...what bands/artists have made the biggest impression on your playing style?

 The Alea Dilemma: The jazz is unquestionably there.  As for metal, I think hard rock more accurately defines that side of us.  Ryan our bass player is the most metal of the three of us, but I believe "rock-wise" we hail more from the school of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Van Halen than we do the school of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden.  However; I would not say our music is devoid of metal.  Ryan digs the bottom of Tool and Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave, so there is that presence bass-wise.  Our influences go well beyond hard rock though...we love the classic prog bands like Yes, King Crimson, Kansas, Rush, Pink Floyd, and ELP, as well as latter day prog artists such as Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, and King's X.

All three of us have played jazz so that element is strong.  As far as jazz influences, we love Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Weather Report, Miles Davis John Coltrane, and Pat Metheny among others.  I also studied classical music extensively while working on my Master's Degree in music theory and composition, so Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Messaian, George Crumb, and Bach are powerful influences on me compositionally.

 Closet Concert Arena: What brought this trio together and what is the story behind the band's name?

The Alea Dilemma: Ryan and I have known each other for ten years; we met in Denver, CO while studying music in college.  We had a prog band during that time called Strativarium.  In fact one of the songs that survived from this era and made the journey to The Alea Dilemma is "The Catalyst." Strativarium ended amicably and we all went our separate ways in 2009.  By chance, Ryan and I met up again in Kansas City in 2013 and immediately decided to start another band.  We both wanted a new and fresh start, so with the exception of that one song, we set out to write completely new music. We picked up Todd our drummer in the spring of 2014 and started rehearsing soon thereafter.

As for the name, I liked "Aleatoric," the term for an avante garde genre of classical music where the element of chance is used in the performance.  Ryan suggested using the root word, "Alea," which is Latin for "dice" or "a game of chance."  Nobody remembers where the "Dilemma" part came into play, but that is how we managed to name the band.  We were doing something new and adventurous so we thought Alea Dilemma fit us well.

Closet Concert Arena: There is a definite "dark feel" to the music, yet I never sense anything macabre or foreboding.  Is there a style to your writing and/or any life experiences that affect the final product you put on vinyl?

The Alea Dilemma: I write all the lyrics and they are drawn from my personal experiences and observations of the world around.  "Forsaken Pawns" and "Altars" were written about the media and people of influence that subject the general public to homogenized thought.  "Betrayed Brilliance" was written about people I've known who have traded dreams for temporary fixes, and "Survive Another Mile" is about a little girl I knew who underwent abuse at the hands of her adoptive parents.  "Beyond the Realm" was deeply personal; written during a time of darkness and trial in my life.  I am drawn to the profundity of lyricists like Kerry Livgren and Roger Waters, and how they are able to challenge your perceptions of life.  That is something I also try to do in my writing.  I want to challenge the listener to think, and although that may lead to some dark moments, I am not into angst, hate-filled lyrics, or the use of profanity.  In anything dark I write I like at least a glimmer of light, because oftentimes that is all it takes for a good balance.

Closet Concert Arena: What band(s) and/or musicians--living or deceased--would you like to play a gig with if you could?

The Alea Dilemma: Hmmm....that is a tough one.  If I was playing guitar, I would have Chick Corea  on keyboards, Jaco Pastorius on bass, Bill Bruford on drums, and Steve Walsh doing the vocals...and perhaps Wayne Shorter on sax.

Closet Concert Arena: That is a show I would wait all night in line for tickets to see...

Closet Concert Arena: What else do you want the world--or at least the Closet Concert Arena faithful--to know about The Alea Dilemma?

The Alea Dilemma: That we got here with lots of coffee, so drink more coffee!  Also, please check out our new record, look out for a gig near you, and there are some wild ideas cooking for upcoming music as we speak!

So there it is fellow progheads, one more prog band exposed to the light.  The Alea Dilemma has elements of old and new prog, fused with some strong jazz top notes, all blended with a tinge of metal/hard rock.  A prog band that seemed decades in the making, Alea Dilemma came together the old fashioned way--their paths crossed randomly years later by chance.  Prog music draws on emotion, and as Danny so eloquently points out, sometimes you use the darkness in your life to shine a light on the path that leads you out.

Please give the clip below a listen so as to peel back a layer on Alea Dilemma yourself--and expand your prog listening library. Check the band's website at http://www.thealeadilemma.com/ to get your copy of "Within the Clamor of Voices."  You can also follow The Alea Dilemma on Twitter, @TheAleaDilemma.  Facebook updates include tour dates, music clips, and other band information https://www.facebook.com/TheAleaDilemma

As 2015 makes her final curtain call and 2016 prepares to take center stage, I find myself appreciating bands like The Alea Dilemma because of their bare bones approach to music generally and prog specifically.  The prog garden has acreage dedicated to many different subplots within the genre, but ultimately they all share a common thread--the ability to dig deeper, peel back another layer, and go behind the curtain.  The Alea Dilemma brought their sound to the masses two months ago, but their music has been years in the making...which is one of the traits that separates prog from other genres.

Just a few grains left in the hourglass, but the search for all things prog continues...until next week...

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