The best progressive band of the 2000s? If you’re looking for Progressive Rock that isn’t trapped in the 1970s, The Mandrake Project has some forward thinking music for you.
DAVID JAMISON: Whew.
KIRK SALOPEK: Yeah, that’s what we do, we make a noise, we go, whew!
Drummer David Jamison and guitarist Kirk Salopek are two of the principal members of The Mandrake Project. They’ve created a band with expansive influences and a wide-ranging sound that doesn’t wear any label comfortably.
Kirk Salopek: I tend to say that it’s cinematic music or it’s music that you would compare to things you would hear on a movie soundtrack. It’s by no means something you’d go to the local bar down the street to see on a Friday night.
Most people Would probably all the Pittsburgh band’s music Progressive Rock and even though they were mostly born after Prog’s heyday, that’s certainly a strong element in the group. But you can also hear influences raging from Arvo Pärt to Radiohead.
Mandrake Project violinist Rick Nelson‘s day job is playing with the choral pop group, Polyphonic Spree (who were in my personal Top 10 for 2007) something he’s done for about 9 years. Although there’s a quantum difference between their level of popularity and The Mandrake Project, there are similarities in their music.
Rick Nelson: I guess the obvious difference is Mandrake doesn’t have a touring choir and it goes on the road with us whereas the polyphonic spree does. But they’re both very orchestral and cinematic in nature.
The name The Mandrake Project might seem curious. Philadelphia music fans will remember the 60’s psychedelic band, Mandrake Memorial and Harry Potter fans certainly know the mandrake root. Kirk Salopek wasn’t aware of either reference at the time he picked the name.
Kirk Salopek: The name itself refers to the mandrake root you know, when it was pulled from the ground it would make a shrieking noise that would render the person severely injured or killed. of course, I wasn’t likening our music to a screaming noise that can render you injured or killed.
You won’t die listening to the Mandrake Project, but you might find yourself screaming on the cinematic roller coaster ride of their music. Their new album is called A Miraculous Container on Blistering Records. I’ll have a more extensive interview with them on Monday’s Echoes. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music. It will be broadcast tomorrow on WXPN, Philadelphia, 88.5 FM about 9:30AM (wxpn.org) You can also hear an audio version here.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))