Crash and Ride Music’s favorite prog-hop band Ontologics released their newest album recently called “Drones From Home.” As you can ascertain from the title, the album consists of several politically and socially charged songs, residing in the same spectrum as Rage Against The Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers. But readers of their last album review on this site know that Ontologics’ sound is far more than that. Drawing upon influences of progressive rock and jazz, “Drones From Home” again dazzles its listeners with its distinctive and fresh sound.
Consisting of multi-instrumentalist Ian Campopiano and percussionist Matthew Walshe, “Drones From Home” is the Ontologics’ third release. Although their influences range far and wide, I felt that the prog branding of their signature “prog-hop” sound is not as distinctive as their last release “Something To Needle Over.” The sound definitely follows in the footsteps of well-renowned bands like 311 and the Beastie Boys, but contains only hints of rhythms and arrangements that remind me of classic progressive rock bands. But that’s ok; in fact, it makes the album much more approachable to the average listener. Take the third track “Under Warranted Suspicion,” a track heavily reliant on deep guitar chords and bass lines that can be found in most alternative rock music. It has a catchy beat, something that will make non-progressive music fans dance in circles. “A Wizard’s Touch For All You Skeptics” also falls in line with the deep, riffy verses that remind me of John Lancaster. These songs are more straightforward, and are lacking the experimentation of most progressive rock songs.
Just because the approach for “Drones From Home” is different doesn’t mean the album is devoid of experimental and progressive sounding material. The opening title track, besides being one of my favorite tracks off the album, contains some incredible instrumentations. The opening sitar, effect-sounding guitars, and intricate drum beats all introduce to the listener the different sonic experiences they will discover throughout the album. The instrumental “Stretch Armstrong” is also a notable song, considering it’s Latin jazz sounding introduction and keyboard arrangements. The intricate guitar work throughout the album feels more complex with every listen, containing quick picking of the strings and interesting chord arrangements. I especially love the wah’d sound used frequently through the album (“Reaching For Pins,” “Cracked Eggs Don’t Hatch), reminiscent of that classic 70’s rock sound that is used by fellow contemporary guitarist John Frusciante. The final track “Modern Revisionists” is the album’s most experimental, containing all sorts of beeps and boops from different synthesizers and drum machines. I have a feeling this song would be enjoyable in a live setting.
I couldn’t help focusing in on Campopiano and his multiple instruments when I listened to their previous album “Something To Needle Over.” This time around, though, I was drawn in my Walshe’s difficult and flavorful drum beats. I’m not sure what differed from the recording process of “Drones From Home” from their last album, but the drums stands out starkly against the orchestrations provided by Campopiano. The solid snare hits, crashing of cymbals, and stomping of bass pedals are more animated, something I wish happened more in their previous album. I also enjoyed the bass guitar in the song “Primal Discourse,” which is performed by guest bassist P-Nut from the band 311.
How do I feel about “Drones From Home”? It is definitely an interesting take of progressive rock and hip hop, just as their last album. I personally felt a deeper connection with their previous album, though. It might have been because the aura behind the band was so new to me the first time around, fascinating me enough to share their album with my readers. The album also feels much longer than their previous album, which could be either a pro or con depending on the listener. For me personally, I couldn’t help but start tuning out with only a few songs left. Hearing Ontologics again, I still enjoyed “Drones From Home,” but simply didn’t have that same fascination as their last album. I still urge you all to check “Drones From Home” out, especially for fans of bands like The Beastie Boys, 311, De Facto, and others. Please support Ontologics by checking out their website, and by following them on Facebook and Twitter for band updates.