Fibonacci Sequence Cracks Instrumental Neo-Prog Code on Numerology
Posted by Michael Mueller on April 28, 2011 at 10:51 AM
In full disclosure, I've had Numerology, the debut disc from Milwaukee-based instrumental prog-metallers Fibonacci Sequence in my possession for some time. And even though I thought it was incredibly well-written, brilliantly produced, and flawlessly executed, I held off on reviewing it because the guitarist, Michael Butzen, is an old friend and colleague, and I didn't want it to look like hometown favoritism. So what changed?
Well, after listening to Numerology a few times when it first arrived, it got buried in the endless "I'll get to it" pile of CDs, and as a result, I had kind of forgotten about it (sorry, Mike). But when I got my new iPod a couple of months ago, I added the album to my playlist. Then one day as I'm out for a jog around the neighborhood with my iPod on "shuffle" mode, the album's second track, "Neap Tide"—a 9-plus minute epic replete with changing time signatures, a fat guitar riff, and crystalline piano, and a tight bass groove—came on. As it had been a while since I'd heard the album, my first thought was, "Hmmm ... I don't remember hearing this Dream Theater tune before." I'm not saying it's derivative; the song is stylistically similar and just that good.
As the iPod shuffle gods would have it, on the next day's run, the opening tick-tocking of "Missing Time" (another near 9-minute opus) accompanied by calm-before-the-storm piano giving way to thunderous tritone stabs followed by a riff shifting bar-by-bar from 5/4 to 6/4 to 5/4 to 6/4 to 4/4 fueled my uphill climb, and once again, I had to pull up the artist on the iPod screen to see who it was. I immediately recognized the album artwork and pretty much decided then and there I had to cover this album.
The name Fibonacci Sequence is taken from a mathematical series of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding ones, and Numerology follows suit. The album is best experienced as a whole entity—an exploration of sound, mood, and meter that weaves an intricate and wondrous tale, even without lyrics. From the aptly titled opener "Commencement" and aforementioned "Neap Tide," you're led to "Primrose Path," which shifts gears so many times in six and a half minutes it could make a Formula 1 driver blush. In the quiet interlude that is "Dawn," cascading piano gives way to introspective acoustic guitar before launching into "Catlord," which is reminiscent of When Dream and Day Unite-era Dream Theater. The Asian-tinged acoustic "Illuminati" is yet another interlude that sets up the ironically titled "Work in Progress." The penultimate and epic "Faunus" and closing track "IO" (both featuring guest Elizabeth Grimm on violin) bring the story full circle, and when the needle finally lifts, you exhale and want to start all over again.
In addition to Butzen on electric and acoustic guitars and mandolin, the band consists of keyboardist Jeffrey Schuelke and drummer Thomas Ford. One-time Cynic bassist Chris Kringel contributed all the bass parts (except for "Missing Time" - Chad Burkholz) and also produced the album. Throughout Numerology, instrumental command is abundantly evident yet never veers into self-indulgence—a testament to the overall musicianship of the band.