Russian-born musician/songwriter Joe Deninzon came to the United States as a young child when his parents were hired to be a part of the Cleveland Orchestra. With that early Classical upbringing, it was almost a given that Deninzon himself would end up becoming a musician, which he did. And while he did learn to play the violin, it was Rock and Roll and not Classical music that would eventually draw him into the world of music. And with that Classical music influence, it seemed only natural that Deninzon would find the style of Progressive Rock to be his musical direction of choice.Eventually, Joe Deninzon went on to form the band Stratospheerius.
Drawing from early Prog-rock bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Jethro Tull; Gentle Giant and even Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, Stratospheerius takes the various influences from those bands and creates their own style of Prog-rock while also helping to continue pushing the boundaries of Progressive Rock. That wide array of influences can be found in the music contained in the band’s current release, 2012’s The Next World…
While the band incorporates unusual rhythm patterns and melodic structures just like any other Prog-rock band, the lead-off track from The Next World… “Release,” is one of the most commercial sounding tracks on the album. Drawing more from the likes of Sting rather than Peter Gabriel, “Release,” features a pop-rock approach that incorporates a sound that feels like something from The Police. “Release” is one song from Stratospheerius that could easily find a spot on Album-oriented Rock radio formats.
The following track of “The Missing Link” also finds Deninzon and the band creating a track that feels very commercial. This time, however, Stratospheerius adds a little more progressive feel to their Prog-rock. The track’s music is a little less straightforward and a little more challenging. The ever-changing feel of the rhythm and pace of the song along with a stronger feel of the playing from guitarist Aurelien Budynek gives the listener a lot more substance to the music to enjoy. While the track does contain a strong progressive approach, there is also a lot of melody that fills up the track’s sound.
Of the album’s first three tracks, the most progressive musical approach comes from the song “Tech Support”. The track begins with the unmistakable sounds of a computer. Those sounds then get incorporated into the main body of the music to the track. The band of bassist Jamie Bishop, guitarist Aurelien Budynek and drummer Lucianna Padmore help Joe Deninzon create music that continuously alternates between Ska influences and Jazz-Rock. The speed at which the quartet plays the Ska passages and the way they transition into the Jazz-rock proves just how capable the band is at handling the challenges of playing Prog-rock. “Tech Support” is one of the standout tracks on The Next World… because of the challenging nature of the music.
Along with the widely accepted challenging nature that comes with Prog-rock, one of the other things that make the genre so progressive is the inclusion of other styles into the music that helps to continuously change the way the music sounds. On the track “Climbing,” it isn’t so much about intensity as it is about adding new sounds into the mix. With Joe Deninzon adding a strong folk influence into the music with his violin, “Climbing” ends up being the track on the release with the easiest pace. With the rest of the album being rather intense, “Climbing” is a nice change of pace…if only for one track.
If you get to catch Joe Denizon live in concert, you experience firsthand the talent of the musician and what he can do with the violin. On the track “Gods,” Deninzon puts down the bow of his violin and ends up playing the instrument in much the same way someone else would play the mandolin. With Deninzon “picking” on the electric violin creates a rather unique and interesting sound and it’s that sound that is featured on “Gods”. The track itself features a straight-out Rock and Roll approach. But the violin adds an element to the music in a style reminiscent of an electric guitar but with a noticeable difference that makes “Gods” such a strong track.
On the song “Road Rage,” the band as a whole picks up the energy of the music. The track begins with the electrified sound of Joe Deninzon’s violin as he lays down a riff that sounds very much like a guitar. After a few seconds, the rest of the quartet launches the song into hyperdrive. The quick pace of the playing from every musician in the group creates a tune that would be perfect when included a mixtape for long highway journeys.
The Next World… from Stratospheerius continues with the song “One Foot in the Next World”. Like the song “Release” from earlier in the album, “One Foot in the Next World” once again finds the band creating a track that has a much more commercial, radio-friendly approach than most of the other songs. In fact, the album’s “title track” is the most recognizable song in Joe Deninzon’s library of songs. The track has become a fan favorite.
The Next World… from Stratospheerius is one solid release with strong songs from one song to the next. And with the album already being several years old, Joe Deninzon and the band are in the process of creating a follow-up. But until they release the album that is in the works, check out The Next World… and rock out.
Also check out his record label, Digital Nations.
Click the album cover below to purchase a copy of The Next World… from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius.