Never the easiest or most accessible of propositions, hyper-nerdy instrumental tech-freaks Animals as Leaders step further out into left field on the aptly titled The Madness of Many. A little extra time was needed to review this album; whilst 2014’s The Joy of Motion was full of bombast and relatively straightforward by the band’s standards, The Madness of Many is comparatively esoteric and at times formless. This album will do little to expand the band’s broader appeal, but will intrigue current fans. The tracks are long, involved and unrepetitive, keeping you guessing almost at all times. Only occasionally does their hyperactivity give way to expansive and open grooves, with soaring lead guitars. When those moments do occur, they are glorious.
Backpfeifengesicht, for example, is as bizarre and flummoxing as its title suggests. While it incorporates jazz, ambient, gyrating funk and other elements, it is nonetheless cohesive. Reactively, the band follow with Transcentience, which is simple by comparison. The juxtaposition of technicality with a catchy tune makes it the album’s best cut. By the time you get to the penultimate track, your ears and psyche may be suffering from a little overload after the relentless stream of notes. Cleverly, they counter that with seven minutes of beautiful ambience on The Brain Dance.
Keeping it all together is lead guitarist Tosin Abasi himself, and Matt Garstka‘s drumming is dextrous beyond all belief. Rhythm guitarist Javier Reyes as much a master of his craft as his bandmates and their collaborative efforts have added another dimension to their sound. Prepare your mind and your senses for the wonder that is The Madness of Many, but be prepared to give it at least half a dozen listens before you cast judgment. If you do, the rewards are stunning.