Album Review: Temple of Switches’ S/T

Temple of Switches’ self-titled debut came to my attention towards the end of 2015, thanks to the folks at Prog Sphere Promotions. The album’s endearingly naive artwork and intriguing musical offer were enough to warrant closer scrutiny. With a name cleverly fashioned, Temple of Switches made their debut on the US music scene with an album full of intriguing melodies, characterised by an ethereal, almost brittle quality, complex yet at the same time not too taxing for the listener.

Temple of Switches is indeed an impressive effort, which sees the band build upon the progressive rock foundation, while fine-tuning their sound and adding layers of complexity, though without making things unnecessarily convoluted. While Temple of Switches does have plenty of smoothness and melody, I would certainly never call it background music. Some of the tracks display a more than satisfying level of energy and dynamics, all the while keeping true to the deeper nature of their sound.

Clocking in at slightly over 33 minutes, Temple of Switches immediately appears as a supremely sophisticated effort, starting from the striking cover artwork which seems to reflect the nature of the music itself. While the majority of the tracks lean towards the slower, more atmospheric side of things, delivered in a rather short, somewhat compact format, the album is bookended by two numbers that differ quite sharply from the rest, as well as from each other. Opener “Federal Offense” is the closest Temple of Switches get to a ‘conventional’ classic/prog rock sound, something over 4 minutes of rhythm section and guitar emoting over an exhilarating jungle beat laid down by Jay Heffner’s drums and percussion that gives a first taste of the seamless interplay between the instruments. On the other hand, the Rush-inspired, “The Vortex”, masterfully interpreted by singer (and keyboardist) Kevin McConnell, is imbued with a feeling of nostalgia. Indeed, the three numbers that form the central section of the album might almost be considered as parts of a single suite, since they are characterized by a wistful mood.

Oozing sheer class, with outstanding performances all round, yet plenty of warmth and accessibility (unlike a lot of hyper-technical albums), this is a release that has the potential to appeal to anyone who loves good music and does not care about sticking a label on anything they hear.

Temple of Switches is available from Bandcamp.