The Age Of Misinformation

Aaron Clift Experiment

Independent release, 2022

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


In lieu of doing any actual work at my job post-holiday, I was listening to Spotify on shuffle and “Your Arms Hold Them To The Dark” came on, the great dark prog track from the Aaron Clift Experiment’s 2015 album Outer Light, Inner Darkness. It got me thinking that we were about due for a new ACE disc, since he releases one every three years or so… and lo and behold, The Age Of Misinformation is upon us.

I mean that in two ways; the first, in that the new album dropped the first week of January, and second, that Clift is taking square aim at fake news, the cult-like mentality of cable news and Facebook pages, the cult of personality, emotions overtaking actual facts, etc. It’s what we have lived for the last several years, not just because of COVID and the Biden and Trump presidencies, but because of how intertwined opinion and news and agendas have become in the last decade.

We have a right to be angry, and certainly this infuses Clift’s lyrics and songwriting, though it’s far from the only facet here (nor could one consider this a protest album or polemic). Certainly, “L.I.A.R.” is the angriest Clift has ever been on record; that and the opening title track—featuring quotes from Trump and other media personalities—provides a dynamic and gripping opening rock salvo.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But then the band veers into the 10-minute “Bet on Zero,” a fantastic and smart multi-part song featuring both a drum solo and enhancements from Austin’s Big Wy’s Brass Band. It’s audacious, the most prog-sounding song here, and little wonder that it was picked as the first single. Note to the youth of today: in prog rock, a 10-minute single is perfectly acceptable. As it should have been, as the song is so arresting that you want to listen to it again to see what you missed the first time.

This is definitely the most self-assured and dynamic the band has sounded across its four albums; this could be due to Clift’s growth as a songwriter, or the talents of the new faces in the band: guitarist Anthony Basini (who gets some good solos and also co-wrote three of the songs); Pablo Ranlett-Lopez on drums; and Clif Warren, who brings a jazz sensibility to his bass playing, giving the songs a spin not often heard in prog-rock. There are moments in the disc that remind the listener of Weather Report or King Crimson, and no disrespect to the departed Devin North, but I am excited about this new direction.

“Dark Secrets” doesn’t quite live up to the other songs, but “Rise” makes up for it, allowing Basini and Clift (keyboards and vocals) to trade riffs and chops like old pros, showing why the band has a following at prog festivals. The punchy, jittery “Malaga” is equally as arresting, not least because of the string quartet that gets the solo in the middle, while closer “Weight Of The World” soars in the chorus and puts a confident flourish on the center.

The only other song here is worth singling out for its beauty and complexity; it could well be the band’s greatest song, even if it’s not as indicative of their more rock-oriented sound. “The Color Of Flight” begins with lovely acoustic guitar picking, then adds harmony vocals, piano and percussion, before the string quartet returns. The song slowly builds these layers, then allows for some breathing room for a starlight acoustic guitar solo and a final crescendo.

So what we end up with is probably the most “experimental” album from the ACE, one that’s not afraid to draw on modern rock, prog and jazz and combine them into something original and unique, set to timely lyrics about the search for truth in an age of lies. Perhaps the long gestation during COVID helped the songwriting, or perhaps the new lineup breathed life into old approaches, but this is clearly the band’s best album to date.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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