Epigene – A Wall Street Odyssey – Review

Without giving too much away about the story that ensues throughout this rock opera – it focuses on Yossarian, a struggling Wall Street investment banker disillusioned by capitalist greed, surmounting financial debts and his progressively out-of-control life.

                       

Together forming the band, husband and wife Sean Bigler and Bonnie Lykes started Epigene in 2000. They certainly have ambition that has to be appreciated but in opera terms this is leagues away from Ayreon’s 1993 metal opera classic Into The Electric Castle.  But who could expect it to come close with the guest-list of established musicians on the revered record?

Its hugely tongue-in-cheek lyrics are made from familiar dystopian concepts but nevertheless the 95-page mixture of graphic novel, lyrics and story make for one hell of a booklet. Although it is to be expected there are great dishes of cheese in the album.

Pop rock with big prog edges is about right and I’m not sure if it’s the best form of music for truly telling such a story – especially with the concepts involved. Epigene’s dreamy sound doesn’t do enough to fully describe Yossarian’s working conditions – both extreme states of living (country and city) should be not simply divided in parts like they are, but also schizophrenic or at least polar in sound to reflect this.

I Eat The Concrete is one of the better tracks. It’s fair to say the lyrics are slightly ridiculous and on the melodramatic side at times – hopefully delivered with a slight wry intention. They’re direct and as accessible as their soun, but backed with some nice twists of jazz in there too.

On the second disc Isis Conspiracist mashes spoken word with some spacey electro to bolster the atmosphere and make it stand out from the rest.

Their tuneful ideas nod to more commercial Yes and could even attract Super Furry Animals fans who can digest layer upon layer of even more cheese.  But truth is, their musical credence doesn’t match the nature of the story – which is a captivating yet cliche-led ride with snippets of various dystopian prophecies, contrasting concepts of Illuminati control, spiritual enlightenment with Orwellian leanings.

By the end, it’s safe to say that A Wall Street Odyssey: The City, The Country And Back Again can be extremely nauseous if overplayed – it’s a one listen, back of the shelf job that may surprisingly be enjoyed at a later date, only to cyclically resurface and be enjoyed again.

6/10

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