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CD Review: Epigene

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Epigene
A Wall Street Odyssey
(2011, Independent)

Although Woodstock’s Epigene—Sean Bigler and Bonnie Lykes—first conceived this epic, double-CD, 24-song rock opera in 2005, it couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time; not since the Depression has the image of Wall Street been so tarnished in the public eye. Folks are ripe for a compelling story in this conflict-rich milieu and Epigene delivers, big-time, with audacious music and a lush illustrated book. The hero of this three-part tale is investment banker Yossarian, whose soul-crushing work drives him to addiction and, ultimately, complete mental collapse and homelessness. Saved by his hippie brother, Yossarian heals and becomes enlightened at an eco-village in Upstate New York, then heads back to Manhattan to try to convince the urban dwellers they’re puppets in an encroaching fascist dystopia.

Musically, this is Wagnerian stuff, propelled mostly by Bigler, who wrote, recorded, and produced A Wall Street Odyssey at home in a contained electrical storm of devotion, ambition, and top-notch musicianship. Bigler’s rare soaring tenor recalls front men of yore like Ian Gillan, Brad Delp, and Peter Gabriel, and his sonic palette stretches far and wide. This is ballsy, textured, musical storytelling, with exhilarating derring-do in both literary and musical execution; the fraught drama spins out in time signature-shifting prog, anthemic rock, and woodsy folk. And just when you think you’re listening to a take-no-prisoners ’70s LP, Bigler throws in found sound and the creepy rhythm of computers. If you like your rock bold, this is an odyssey you’ll relish. www.epigenemusic.com.
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