THINKING PLAGUE
Sharon Bradford • Robin Chestnut • Elaine Di Falco • Bob Drake • Harry Fleishman • Mark Fuller • Mark Harris •Shane Hotle • Mike Johnson • Dave Kerman • Suzanne Lewis • Matt Mitchell • Eric Moon • Deborah Perry • Kimara Sajn • David Shamrock • Dave Willey

Alternative Press placed Thinking Plague, in the vanguard of groups riding the crest of a largely unheralded avant-progressive tsunami, an idiom responsible for some of the 20th century’s most significant musical achievements. The manner in which Thinking Plague have condensed only the most fertile (and often the most pulverizing) aspect of the last 30 years of progressive exploration into an nth-degree endgame is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

 

Thinking Plague's official website


IN THIS LIFE



RUNE 407

Thinking Plague has been releasing impossible to categorize albums to a devoted fan-base for over 30 years.

In This Life, originally released in 1989, was the group's 3rd album and their first CD release after two previous albums that flew under the radar of most listeners.

Originally released by the ReR label, this was the first album to really bring this superb US band to a wider audience. It was their last to feature singer Susanne Lewis, who lends a convincing  air to the menace of some of the lyrics. It is also their last album to feature Bob Drake as a full member of the band.

Just over twenty five years have passed since I first heard this album upon its release, but what I originally wrote about it still rings quite true, even if I didn't anticipate that the band would still be a vital force two and a half decades later: 'Combine the sound of the 5uu's with the Art Bears, add a (non Dagmar like) female singer & woodwinds, & you come up with this unique U.S. slant on the European art rock song sound. What a great album; one of 1989's best releases!'

It comes back into print now for the first time in years. The two 'bonus tracks', which were taken from their first two albums and can be found in superior form on Early Plague Years have been removed and this presents the album as the band originally planned it. The CD is now shorter, but much more focused this way and a more coherent, single work. It has been newly remastered  by Mark Fuller from the original stereo mixdown master, as overseen by the band.

In This Life press release

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DECLINE AND FALL



RUNE 320

"Thinking Plague lays down some of the most rhythmically complex, texturally inventive, and melodically challenging popular music of the last 30 years, and somehow makes it all sound easy and natural." – All Music Guide

Decline and Fall is the long awaited sixth album from a group who personifies the term 'beloved underground favorites'. From the group's beginnings as a duo doing basement recording experiments nearly 30 years ago until now, Thinking Plague has always had a strong vision of their unique take on progressive rock music. Despite the very long lifespan of the band and the many years between records, the basic sound of the group and instrumentation was set early and the years since have seen interesting variations on their sound, from the stripped down approach of the earliest work to the deep layering of electronic sounds and samples of their last album.

Decline and Fall strips back a lot of the 'studio-isms' and more than ever, sounds like the work of a really powerful band. The album adds a few other new surprises, most notably the addition of wonderful vocalist Elaine Di Falco who fits right into what may be the band's most demanding job. She sings with great poise and control the band's hallmark melodic lines - passages that would trip up a lesser vocalist. Also new is keyboardist/drummer Kimara Sajn who plays with tremendous authority on both instruments (although just before finishing up the album, the group added drummer Robin Chestnut who appears on one track). Returning are long-term members Mark Harris on saxes and clarinets, Dave Willey on bass and Mike Johnson, the band's guitarist, leader and composer.

A new album by Thinking Plague is always an event; working slowly and unwaveringly, the group has released a handful of brilliant, art-rock classics. Decline and Fall is the latest of them.

Decline and Fall press release

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A HISTORY OF MADNESS



RUNE 180

A History of Madness presents a further maturation of the band’s sound. Its warm, organic sound is due in part to the inclusion of acoustic instruments in the mix, which is also interwoven with electronic sounds and samples. The CD includes two soundscape pieces, “War on Terra” and “Le Gouffre”, that leader Mike Johnson maintains: “are really a departure for me, or a beginning, as it were, in that they are my first really serious forays into the realm of semi-composed, sonic environments rather than organized pieces or songs." The line up is Mike Johnson (guitars), Deborah Perry (vocals), Dave Willey (bass and accordions), Dave Shamrock (formerly of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) (drums), Mark Harris (reeds) and Matt Mitchell (piano, harmonium, synths) with contributions from other musicians, including Dave Kerman (percussion), Ron Miles (trumpet), Mark McCoin (samples and soundscapes) and others. The CD’s magic reveals itself on multiple listenings, in exploring the work’s threads like currents in a stream. However, a single listen will suffice to leave most spellbound.

A History of Madness press release

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EARLY PLAGUE YEARS



RUNE 141

For years Mike Johnson was certain that the mastertapes for Thinking Plague's first two albums were long lost. They recently surfaced and made Early Plague Years possible. Thinking Plague grew out of basement recording experiments by Mike Johnson and Bob Drake in the early 80's. They released their 1st lp, ...a thinking plague in 1984 on their own label in a hand-painted edition of 500. They then disbanded the original version of the band & formed a new version, featuring Susanne Lewis & others. This band released Moonsongs in 1986, which Option called "stunning" upon its release.

Newly remastered by Bob Drake, with astonishingly improved sound, this marks the 1st time that these vinyl rarities have been available in over a decade. You can hear the development of the band grow from their roots into the sound that could only be theirs.

Early Plague Years press release

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IN EXTREMIS



RUNE 113

When a band has gone 9 years between releases, I suppose it's fair to call this new release "greatly anticipated"! In Extremis includes leader/composer Mike Johnson, Bob Drake, Dave Kerman as well as a host of new names, all of whom turn in tremendous performances on vocals, guitars, multiple reeds, accordion, keyboards, bass, drums and more. Tuneful, well composed & strongly structured, this is very much in the vanguard of the RIO art-rock song style, along with peers such as U Totem, the 5uu's & the Art Bears.

In Extremis press release

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MEDIA
For press and media: cover art and high resolution images are available below for download (click thumbnail, right-click image and select "Save As.."). Please credit the photographer (when available) and "Courtesy of Cuneiform Records". For more information, click here.

IN THIS LIFE
DECLINE AND FALL

PRESS RELEASES
In This Life press release
Decline and Fall press release
A History of Madness press release
A History of Madness press quotes
Early Plague Years press release
Early Plague Years press quotes
In Extremis press release
In Extremis press quotes

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5/29/2013: Cuneiform Artists Tour the USA West Coast Summer (May-Sept) 2013
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