The first thing you notice about keyboardist Jason Rubenstein is he is VERY talented. It turns out he also a really nice guy. I suppose that makes it easier not to hate him for being so damn talented. Jason can play prog, jazz, and can improv with the best of them. That's all well and good but can he write songs?
On his album "New Metal from Old Boxes", Jason states he is going back to his prog roots. We are all lucky he has. The songs are there, tightly arranged and with plenty of hooks. The thing that can happen with instrumental albums is that a sameness can creep in and the songs blend together. Jason makes sure the songs all stand on their own with his amazing playing, loud and aggressive. Think Keith Emerson joining Planet X. Nothing against Derek Sherinian but it sounds more like an album that Virgil Donati wrote with Emerson. Heavy prog!
Stand out tracks for me? The Steppes Of Sighs Part 2 (nothing wrong with Part 1!), A Burden Of Secrets (epic prog at its best), his cover of The Barbarian, and the heavy organ of Frankenstein On The Red Line. But the whole album just rips. How to make a piano sound heavy!
But wait! There's more! Prior to releasing this album, Jason released an EP called "This Is Not A Love Letter." The title reminds me of when Robert Fripp was speaking about the VROOM EP that was the prelude to the album Thrak. He basically said the EP was a "calling card and not a love letter." While Jason's EP might not be a love letter, there is a LOT to love in a tight space.
The title track and The Curmudgeon Invents The Future could have been on the album. Ok maybe any of the tracks could have. For me the EP is a companion piece to the album. If you have the album, you NEED the EP. Jason has a back catalog that needs to be checked out...by me as well! If I can actually stop enjoying these two, maybe I will look at the many sides of Jason Rubenstein!