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Two shows will showcase Allegory of the Cave.
Danimal Pinson. I'd heard the name but not the the man’s music. That’s true of more than a few artists in the area, I suppose, but what was unique about Pinson is where (or rather from whom) I kept hearing about him.
He is held in high esteem by some of Chattanooga’s best and brightest, a man who holds the respect of the people who hold everyone else’s respect. A musician’s musician, if you will. That I hadn’t heard his work seemed absurd—but it also meant that I probably had something really wonderful to look forward to…
I was not disappointed.
There isn’t space here to do justice to the album Allegory of the Cave but we’ll do the best with what we have. I have a soft place in my heart for concept albums (Pink Floyd was my first favorite band). The concept album is the ultimate litmus test, the definitive line between genius and pretentiousness. Pinson’s album is genius. He may very well be Chattanooga’s version of Brian Wilson.
The album kicks off with “The Entrance,” an ethereal tune that literally describes descending into a cave and ends with the repeated admonition to “Please follow your guide.” It sets the stage for what is to come and I admit that the intrusion of the touristy-sounding fellow asking about how much the cave weighs was jarring, but it honestly made me laugh out loud. Little touches like that help to keep an album of lofty ideas and philosophy grounded. It is a wink from the composer to let you know that while he takes his music and subject very seriously, he doesn’t make the mistake of taking himself too seriously.
“Windows” is the second track. It explores the ideas of perception and living in the moment with a jaunty rhythm and an infectious melody and vocal line that makes itself a comfortable little home in your mind since it’s going to be there for a while. The elongated harmonies of the third track, “What Is It Inside” nod to the aforementioned Pink Floyd, reminiscent of the period between Atom Heart Mother and Dark Side of the Moon, which makes it very choice material.
The titular track, “Allegory of the Cave” continues building on the foundation of classic psychedelia and progressive rock, while Pinson delivers vocals that would make Jeff Buckley say, “Dammit, I need to sound more like THAT dude…” Seriously, if you don’t catch some serious Buckley vibes from this tune, your time is probably better spent admiring shiny objects.
I really wish I could give a song-by-song breakdown of this whole album, but here we are four tracks in (out of 15) and I’m almost out of space. “Hammered in the Fall” and “Desolate World” are two particularly moving pieces on an album composed of outstanding tunes, and the absolutely delightful and unexpected “Counterclockwise” reinforces the notion that Pinson refuses to let the listener become complacent in listening.
There is enough homologous to the album to maintain narrative integrity and enough variation on themes (and genre, really) to keep it interesting and engaging. The trouble with progressive music is that too often it is inaccessible to the uninitiated—but Pinson has created art rock for anyone with ears. If I had my way, I’d like to see the entire album mounted as a stage production at one of the larger venues in town (Track 29, for instance.) It would be a hell of a thing.
Pinson’s current project, Danimal Planet, will be opening for Lucius this Friday evening followed by an after-Nightfall show at JJ’s Bohemia with Hudson K and Birds with Fleas (another local group I have heard phenomenal things about). I strongly encourage you to catch it for it is art of the highest caliber.
Danimal Pinson has the respect of so many accomplished musicians for one simple reason. He has earned it.