February 2006

House Of Not | Sexus CD release party
February 23, 2006The RivoliToronto
21st Century Prog
by Andy Frank with photos by José Romelo Lagman
I retrieved a postcard from my CIUT mailbox after my Tuesday evening live music presentation, and it simply refused to land in the green bin with the other pieces of propaganda that magically float into my slot every week.

The photo featured the silhouette of a slightly hunched guitarist playing lead under soft orange light, and wearing a hairstyle that resembled a 1970’s era Neil Young. Within seconds, I was flooded with at least 1,000 words, and before I turned the card over to face the inevitable sales pitch, I knew this was an act that deserved my immediate attention.

Thursday evening at the Rivoli, the back room was filled with people who ranged from late-twenties to fifty-plus. As is often the case at a CD release party, the band mingled with the crowd before the lights went down, and acknowledged many of their fans by name. Rock n’ roll veterans, I concluded, comfortable in their skin, well past the image-forgery stage; this trip is about a vision, and about music.

Steely Dan plays in the background, just as they always seemed to do at every significant rock show I attended in the 1970’s. The music was fitting, because the two major influences evident with House of Not are musician’s musicians, Pink Floyd and Steely Dan. I can make a delicious tossed salad of other classic and progressive-rock comparisons, and a few more flavours will emerge in this review, but it’s what House of Not does with the genres that is so laudable.

This is Generation-RC (remote control) after all, and even those of us who could once appreciate a 23-minute John Bonham drum solo amidst a thick haze of Du Maurier and Acapulco Gold are obsessively avoiding boredom, especially during our leisure time. Who’s got time for Prog Rock?

House of Not’s core members, Brian Erikson, Ken O’Gorman and Lou Roppoli, are aware of this dilemma, and have found a clever way to package a five CD mythic adventure. In their words, the CDs are “musically and lyrically integrated, although each album is thematically independent and represents a complete phase of the trip.” (The trip is a hero’s journey, and is beautifully articulated at www.houseofnot.com)

(L-R) Ken O’Gorman, Brian Erikson, Dee Brown and Lou Rappoli

Ken O’Gorman

Ken O’Gorman and Brian Erikson
Just as each album is independent/interdependent, so is each song within each album. Most of the tracks can be played as singles, but when assembled on the CDs, they sound like an uninterrupted presentation, perhaps even a rock opera — which the band indeed wishes to realize one day.

On with the show.

Ken O’Gorman, the technical genius behind the band, and the shadowy figure whose image I held in my hands at the radio station, played a plethora of guitars, including a magnificent electric sitar. Lou Roppoli kept pace with his own array of six-strings, and I loved his passionate expressions as he doled out lead after lead. Eric Stever added more guitar depth, and was particularly enjoyable when jamming closely with keyboardist Omar Ales. Drummer David Henman and bassist Garth Blake thrashed and grooved — I especially enjoyed the rarely heard bass solo — and Dee Brown’s rich vocals were the perfect complement to Brian Erikson’s often brooding, Roger-Watters-style leads.

Erikson is a fabulous blend of past and current singers. Clutching his hands behind his back while he sings into a stand-up mike reminds me of Liam Gallagher, but he is also capable of wing-spanning, soaring Michael Hutchence exultations. He resembles Jackson Browne, with a devastating Mick Jagger mouth. He commands your attention, however this show ultimately wasn’t about him. When the time came for an Eagles-like double guitar solo featuring O’Gorman and Rappoli, he left the scene, and supportively clapped his hands well out of the spotlight beside bassist Blake. At other times, such as the sitar solos, he left the stage altogether. Like Steely Dan and Pink Floyd, House of Not is all about the music. They didn’t even have an encore prepared — the show was over when it was over. Then, back to mingling.

House of Not is living proof that 21st Century Prog Rock is achievable, and I hope those tired Classic Rock stations take note. Meanwhile, catch the highlights of the show on CIUT 89.5’s It’s (A)Live!, hopefully sometime in April.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Andy Frank
• • • • • •
José Romelo Lagman
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2006