AMN Reviews: Far Corner – Risk (2018; Cuneiform Records)

Far Corner is the instrumental quartet of William Kopecky on bass, Dan Maske on keyboards, Angela Schmidt on cello, and Craig Walkner on drums, with Jerry Loughney contributing violin. Risk is their third studio album (technical their fourth album overall), and first in about decade. They play a rather charming and unique take on heavy chamber rock. As such, they fall in the middle ground between progenitors in both the 20th century classical and prog rock genres.

From the outset, the group makes it clear that they are not kidding around. Risk begins on the aggressive side and rarely lets up. Maske’s plethora of vintage and modern keyboards (I’m pretty sure I hear a mellotron in there) combines with Loughney’s riffing and lead themes to produce a retro, albeit non-derivative, sound. Kopecky and Schmidt and hold down the low end and then some, adding both color and further motifs. Walkner is a precise and busy drummer, who tightly drives the labyrinthine rhythms with generous use of the double bass.

Far Corner occasionally wears their influences on their sleeves. For example, Flim Flam Man could be subtitled Poking Fun at Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. On the other hand, Myopia is a heady and all-out prog anthem that moves in a more modern direction. But then Past Deeds, Present Treacheries exhibits more of a Univers Zero structure and feel. Further, The Chickening (a great song title) alternates between what sounds like electric guitar riffing (despite that instrument not being credited) and more melodic breaks.

At some point when listing to Risk, you need to just sit back and enjoy it. Regardless of its occasional toying with darkness, this is just a fun album. Highly recommended.