Blue Sky Theory – Good Place, No Place

By Matt Kastner

Question:  What do you get when you mix soft melodies with strange lyrics? No, not Pink Floyd. Well… Ok, you get Pink Floyd, but you also get Blue Sky Theory. Compared to the likes of Rush, Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis, Blue Sky Theory offers post-apocalyptic lyrics with intricate guitars, busy drums and keyboards. Though you may have not heard of them (I know I hadn’t before I received the album in the mail), they’re no strangers to the music business. They’ve been around since 1996, but have gone through various changes throughout the years like any band does. Now, they have finally released their first official album under their current moniker after previously releasing (and disowning) two albums under another name.

Simply put, Good Place, No Place is a whirlwind of chaos. As soon as the first track, “Spirits of the Law,” comes on, you feel like you’ve just been picked up by a whirling tornado. Once the second song, “Can’t Catch Jacques,” starts, you’ve landed, only to find out that you’re not in Kansas anymore. And just like any journey through Oz, you’ll run into some interesting characters while listening to the album. No, it’s not the Scarecrow, Tin Man, or Cowardly Lion. It’s the songs “Blueprints for the Tortoise,” “Restless,” and “The Smash.” Easily the highlights of the album, these three songs offer soothing melodic guitar work as well as some intense rhythms that would fit well in a chaotic movie scene. If you’re listening to the album in the background and “Restless” comes on, you may think your CD player or computer somehow changed CDs and turned on a Dream Theater album. The vocals sound very much like James LaBrie (which is a very good thing) and the intro piano melodies sound like something you might hear off of Scenes from a Memory or Octavarium. Once “35th: Mammoths and Men” finds its way into your ears, you’ve reached the Wizard’s castle, and are returned back home to Kansas. The melodies during the song will have you tapping your foot and bobbing your head as the groove is hard to get out of your head.

Now, Good Place, No Place will not please everybody. It took me several listens to finally get past the first couple of songs without turning it off. Once I forced myself to listen to the remainder of the album, I quickly discovered I had been denying myself the best parts of the album. The first four songs really seem very disorganized to me, but that also seems to be the point of them. Once I discovered that, I then started to enjoy the beauty of the album. In true progressive form, it indeed carries elements of Rush (you can clearly tell the drummer is greatly influenced by Neil Peart here), Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. If you get the chance to check this band out, definitely do it. You won’t regret it if you’re a fan of the old-time prog bands.