[Mankind] The Crafty Ape Crippled Black Phoenix
Crippled Black Phoenix’s fifth album, “(Mankind) The Crafty Ape,” may already be one of this year’s highlights in progressive music. And, that includes Pink Floyd’s extended reissue of “The Wall” later this month. And, speaking of The Floyd, The Phoenix’s singer does sound astonishingly like David Gilmour on the double album’s first full track, the 10-minute “The Heart of Every Country,” a slow, melancholy song with haunting melodies and a groove straight from “Echoes.” The album’s other long track, closer “Faced With Complete Failure, Utter Defiance Is the Only Response,” is also in parts reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Mostly though it takes on the dark intensity of early- to mid-90s Swans with a bit of The God Machine thrown in. “Release the Clowns” is one of the standout tracks, an enthralling blues number about impending revolution. The atmospheric piano and noise piece “We Will Never Get Out of This World Alive” is full of sadness and beauty, which suits the sobering title. No progressive album without an underlying concept: the songs are grouped into three chapters, the whole dealing with themes of mankind’s corruption and failings. This is the music Pink Floyd should have made after “The Wall.” Crippled Black Phoenix have managed to take the essence of classic Pink Floyd and adapt it for the 21st century.