Let's talk art for a moment. No, not Picasso or Rembrandt or De Vinci. I'm talking music. And when I think of art and music, there may have been several bands I could have come up with in the past that represented the two perfectly, but now they belong almost exclusively to Pilotdrift in the form of Water Sphere, the Good Records newly (and very first) signed prodigies who caught the eyes and ears of Good Records owner Tim DeLaughter of the once alt-rock jokesters Tripping Daisy, who now fronts the orchestral, twenty-two member, multi-colored robe wearing chorus band The Polyphonic Spree.
Pilotdrift are an exploratory band that splices music, electronics, orchestrations, guitars, singing, and anything else you care to imagine in a very unusual and epic way. Some space rock, some psychedelic funk spazz, and little resemblance to a modern rock outfit, they seem extremely comfortable in their own little bizarre corner of the universe, taking anything they find interesting and churning and burning it until it sounds listenable.
Pilotdrift go a little more out on a limb than do the aforementioned bands however; way, way out in some places. An example of this is "Jekyll & Hyde Suite", which has the band sounding like the latest project from Andrew Lloyd Webber and something you'd find on Broadway, or Off Broadway, or Off Off Broadway, or maybe Way Off Off Broadway? Belting, climaxing symphonies with big bass booms and cymbal crashes with a piano opus that would make Yanni blush are just a few things at the forefront of this track. Add to this a Tom Yorke-like crooning and you have one very interesting piece of work indeed.
Other tracks could only wish to have so much direction, for instance "Elephant Island". The same sweeping melodies and symphonic build-ups exist here as well, with a few minutes of misdirection in the middle; almost like the sheet music they were playing from suddenly caught a gust of wind and flailed about the room and they had no choice but to improvise with guitar-laden circus music until someone frantically gathered all the pieces back together again.
However, visit the official Pilotdrift website and you'll be treated to perhaps the best instrumental I think I've ever heard in the form of "Comets", which has a beautiful piano bed intermingled with a chorus of angelic voices, a subtle drum beat, and some nifty electronic goings on a la Grandaddy, making this something I would expect to hear passing through the Pearly Gates. Tracks like this are really where Pilotdrift take off (pun?), and make Water Sphere more of an experience than a rock album.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on the album closer "So Long" which, by itself, makes this album worth owning. Here we have almost six minutes of brooding, goose bump-filled climatic guitar music with heavy synth use and very abrupt chord changes and what sounds like the Polyphonic Spree themselves joining in on the chorus towards the end. This track succeeds on many levels, and absolutely showcases the brilliancy of these Texarkana art rockers.
From the opening guitar crunches and harmony-filled bellows in "Caught In My Trap" and the 70's-like electronic quirk rock in "Bubblecraft", through the ending jingle-jangling and pitter-pattering of drums and xylophones, it's easy to see that Pilotdrift aren't "just another" indie/math/prog rock band to come fluttering by in the breeze. They take their music seriously, and deserve to be listened to.