A gentle breeze blows as you trek through the darkness. The night air is filled with the comforting chirp of crickets and the ebb and flow of waves on the shore of a nearby lake. You hear rustling in the bushes nearby and reach for your sword. Is it a rattlesnake? Perhaps a troll? No, you’re not leading an expedition of hobbits to Mordor, you’re listening to the intro track from +5 to Strength, the debut album by St. John’s band Quilt. As the album name, artwork, and song titles (like “Oppose The Gates” and “Fortunate Assembly”) might suggest, this album is as much influenced by role playing games and fantasy novels as it is by Led Zeppelin or Yes. That being said, the cheese factor is surprising low and the quality or musicianship very high. From start to finish +5 to Strength holds the listener’s attention with its inventive arrangements and shifting time signatures.
Today’s track, “Ramkeizer”, is my favorite from the record, opening with the background sounds of clinking glasses and miscellaneous bar chatter (knights and rogues fraternizing at a tavern in the woods?) The music begins sounding like a sterile lounge-jazz band until the singer steps up to the mic and detonates the song into a frenzy of psychobilly punk, yelping and howling like the lovechild of David Yow and Fred Schneider.
Okay, I realize I’m letting my imagination get away from me on this one, but I think that’s the effect Quilt was going for. Have a listen to +5 to Strength for yourself and let your imagination run wild. It makes a great soundtrack for a rousing Friday night game of Dungeons & Dragons.