One of my favorite indie releases of the last few years was AAA Battery’s Corrosion of Buddha. A cross country, file swapping kind of project, the project held up as an homage to the corrosion of the human spirit. Musically, it was a blend of alternative sensibilities with progressive rock leanings – kind of like Neil Young meeting Tool. AAA Battery’s Fred Jeske rang me up back in June to tell me about his forthcoming project – Conduit of Humanity. It sounded really ambitious – a group of 20+ individuals getting together to create reality bending music that could change hearts and minds. But isn’t that what the best music does? We made plans to get together in Seattle in August at his band’s performance and…my life took a left turn. Instead of catching up with Fred and taking in his band, I found myself driving across the USA on the very same day I had made plans with Fred. Sorry Fred! His new project – Conduit of Humanity – has recently released their debut album, The Zen Cage. And I can tell you, it is an album that lives up to it’s ambitions.
Conduit of Humanity is a project that has roots in the various members shared love of Todd Rundgren. Fred met up with various musicians and friends at ToddStock West (a celebration of Rudgren’s 70th Birthday that was held in various locations in 2018). Jordan Zadorozny of Blinker the Star agreed to produce the record, and slowly more and more players signed up to contribute to the record – 28 or so different musicians are on this record. Surprisingly, the result is a cohesive, masterful record that engages the listener on a visceral level.
Light a Candle kicks off the record in sublime fashion. Dreamy power pop with psychedelic vibes, it sets the tone for the record. The band follows this opener with another masterful song, Sighlence. This tune has a bouncy pop feel that is underpinned with some darker tones that carry emotional resonance. It reminded me of Canada’s finest power pop band, Sloan. No Law sounds like Genesis or Chicago with its bouncy refrain that opens the song. It quickly segues into an emotional plea for togetherness. “Holding hands the best we can” was a line that stuck out to me. Greedease is a late album highlight – noise f/x living comfortably with the band’s power pop tendencies. This is a song that I can imagine providing a grand finale at one the band’s shows, with how the closing instrumental passage builds and builds. Everything is Cosmic in Navarro is a low key way to the close the record. Swirling keyboards, sound f/x, hazy vocals – it is a fitting way to say goodbye.
The album is out now, and can be purchased directly from the band here.
For Fans of: Neil Young, Todd Rundgren, Lusk, Tool, Genesis
- Light A Candle
- No Law
- Right Now Here
- Filthy Ocean
- I See Birds
- Thanks For Going All Out
- Conduit of Humanity
- Everything is Cosmic in Navarro