The seven member insanity known as Aficionado astounded with their debut album, Circus Music, back in 2008. Combining the energy and horns of ska, the rebellious attitude of punk and the complexity and schizophrenic creativity of prog, it was damn near genius. While no official follow-up has been announced (fingers crossed), they have released a new EP, When It Comes to Creation. Although only about twenty minutes long, it contains more fresh ideas and impressive musicianship than most full length releases.
The title track opens the EP, and it is incredible. Electric guitar riffs and piano lines interweave within the first seconds before exploding into frenzy comparable to At the Drive-In (mostly due to the vocals of Nick Warchol). Admittedly, his voice is an acquired taste and may even annoy some, but it’s all part of what makes Aficionado fairly unique. A lot of punk music carries this sort of unprofessional singing; the difference here is how innovative, tricky and colorful the music is.
“Do Nothing, Be Nothing” is a more straightforward rocker, but it still packs in some awesome horn playing and shifting time signatures. “The Myth About Real Life” is what would happen if No Doubt got a male singer and drank a lot of Red Bull. The way Aficionado play with dynamics here is very impressive; a collage of rhythms and instruments surround what is, at the core, a simple but catchy basis. This is the type of song you want to hear under headphones, studying all the nuances and discovering new things with each listen.
The EP continues to impress with “Naysayers.” With touches of both The Mars Volta and early Chicago, it’s stellar. The best moment of When It Comes to Creation comes when everything gives way and a keyboard pattern is played over some guitar solos. It harkens back to the classic days of prog rock and the band rocks it out until the very end. The EP ends with “The Same Original Idea,” which is a slightly calmer track but still full of craziness. Nick and flautist Laura Carrozza sing about how copying original ideas makes the idea lose its originality. As obvious a statement as that is, it’s also a perfectly blunt and needed commentary on the state of music today.
When It Comes to Creation is a fantastic release by one of the most inventive acts around today. Aficionado is a group of friends and excellent musicians who compose and perform with a shared mindset. The way the band combines qualities both amateurish and highly skilled is what makes them special. As I said two and a half years ago, this band proves that the most important music is being made under the radar. While carbon copied garbage is paraded on the airwaves, it’s modest and talented underdogs like Aficionado who deserve all the attention.
Check out “The Myth About Real Life” here.