Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pigeon Toe are a five-piece prog-rock outfit, hailing from Germany. They’ve recently signed a deal with Lifeforce Records, giving their debut, The First Perception, worldwide distribution and a happy backer to help with promotion. The five members aren’t exactly new to the block either. They’ve all been involved with a couple of projects that have gained a fair amount of attention – Fear My Thoughts, Backslide, and Triptykon to name but a few.

“I’m sorry we didn’t come up with something more innovative,” says Martin Fischer, guitarist and vocalist of Pigeon Toe, when asked about their bizarre band name. “We used it as a working title when we started the band, and when it came to playing the first show, we didn’t have an alternative name”.

The name Pigeon Toe has been a stumbling block for critics to clamber over. One critic awarded Pigeon Toe “extra points because of their weird name”, while another critic was much more aggressive in tackling the band name before reviewing the debut, “Let’s get the issue of the bands name out of the way. It is awful. It just is. Everybody I’ve spoken to agrees with this, so let’s just leave it there.” Fischer devilishly smiles, “Well… our name might be helpful because people don’t know what to expect.”

Despite mixed feelings over the bands name Fischer insists that the press response to The First Perception has been positive. “It’s a good thing most critics are giving it [The First Perception] a second or third listen”. Detail is very much part of Pigeon Toe’s work. Their subtlety makes for an underwhelming experience first time around, but a colourful adventure on second playback.

The First Perception is a stripped down production. The guitars don’t have the sharp distortion found in metal. The drums are warm sounding and loosely compressed, and the vocal is sung rather than belched. There’s a space all around the stereo field, much like Devin Townsend’s Ki, or King Crimson’s live album Level Five. Their debut can sound blank in one section, but explosive in another.

During a previous interview Fischer mentioned that their debut was both conceptual and open to interpretation. How can an album be both? “I spent some time thinking about a story and characters and all that, but it never seemed necessary to make that work for everybody else, in or outside the band. Still, people should create their own picture when listening to the album.” Critics are divided in what The First Perception is meant to represent – if anything. Some have said, “Alice lost in Wonderland”, others “a potential wizardry”. You get the impression the band aren’t so sure themselves. “Well, all of us had all kinds of ideas in our heads”.

Living far apart in the digital age means very little to these prog rockers. The members of Pigeon Toe live miles away from one another, yet they’ve pursued a sound that’s most effective when they’re together in the same room, “Actually, the possibilities of digital recording are really impressive, and yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time in front of the computer”. The use of recording software is fast becoming a recurring theme in the mainstream. U2 are known to jam for hours on end, only for the resident engineer to cut and paste the ‘better’ bits together using software; technical giants Meshuggah are known to electronically program sections of their music before reaching the demo stage; the revered Radiohead are known to work around electronic sequencing first, before the other instruments are even considered at the writing stage.

Yet, listening to The First Perception, it doesn’t sound like it’s been made with a computer in mind, “I’ll take that as a compliment!” says Fischer, unsure if a compliment was actually meant. “Of course, there was a point when I realised that this [digital recording] doesn’t replace the feeling in a band, inside the rehearsal room.” “Still, we’d use it [recording software] to save some ideas and work on them at some other time… but when it comes to song writing or rehearsing we have this one place where we’ll all meet. Also, I think it’s really important for us to react spontaneously and inspire each other”.

Song writing and spontaneity can’t live without the other, and were progressive rock is concerned, spontaneity has been the genres corner-stone for decades. “It might get a little complicated when we’re writing, but it can be pretty refreshing having all kinds of unplanned combinations happening at once”.

The First Perception by Pigeon Toe is available worldwide via Lifeforce Records online store, iTunes & Amazon

Posted by Posted by Andy at 3:41 pm
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