From the monthly archives: "October 2003"

Review of In The Year 20XX, originally published on  Written by Alex Baia.

Every once in a while, LOTD sends me an album that comes seemingly from out of nowhere by a band that is both weird and wonderful.  Well, today’s my lucky day, because Chromelodeon is the newest weird and wonderful band that you and I have never heard of until just now.

They self-describe as an “8-piece epic rock group” fromPhiladelphia.  They’re epic alright; a mixture of, among other things, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Mr. Bungle, and old-school Nintendo music.  I make those comparisons only as attempts at reference points.  Chromelodeon actually sounds nothing like any of those bands individually.  Rather, their album sounds like the soundtrack to an epic battle of superheroes and robots.  It exudes triumph and sadness, exhilaration and defeat.  It is lyrical and romantic without ever using words.  The album name, In the Year 20XX, seems to stand for anything and everything futuristic.  A story is being told here, but which one?

The epic feel of the album is accomplished not merely through a diverse range of instruments but also through a diverse usage of the instruments.  Staccato drum marches, shimmering guitar atmospherics, and walls of radiant synths create a feeling that ranges from melodic and dreamy to pounding and jagged.  The synths mimic violins, accordions, droning machines, and the wails of ghostly robots.

The album clocks in at just less than 30 minutes.  I could talk about the individual tracks, but that doesn’t seem necessary, and it might even be counterproductive.  The album feels like a continuous composition.  It may not have been a concept album by intention, but even so, the execution tells a story.  Melodic and rhythmic themes from the beginning of the album are revisited near the end.  Instrumentally, the members of Chromelodeon are talented and able.  Despite the fine individual performances, there is no showing off here.  The instruments sound unified; everything contributes to the whole.

In the Year 20XX is an album that, whether they like or not, will make all listeners grin and take note.  Not everyone likes theatrical, instrumental rock music.  For those that do, this album is golden.  Few bands are unique.  Chromelodeon is one of the few.

-Alex Baia