PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS – Spooky Action at a Distance [2-CD version] (2023)

PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS - Spooky Action at a Distance [2-CD version] (2023) - full

Since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2019, Los Angeles-based quartet PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS have been one of the prog rock scene’s most prolific outfits. Now, only a year since their previous effort, the band return with their new album ”Spooky Action at a Distance”, an eclectic melodic masterpiece with captivating lyrical narratives, from a Norse king’s introspection to a pregnant teenager’s quest for freedom, guaranteeing a captivating musical journey.
”Spooky Action at a Distance” finds Pattern-Seeking Animals more confident than ever approaching new soundscapes and topics, combined with the DNA of their previous work for their most memorable, melodic delivery, artsy, modern rock&pop yet with classic feeling throughout.

2023 has been a most excellent year for rock music, with many fine releases hitting the racks. They have been full of music of worth and value, not the unimaginative, tepid and vacuous drivel that dominates the airwaves, grabs the headlines and gets the promotional push and thrust of X, Snapchat or Tik Tok, the arena where things like good song craft and musical abilities are unrecognized.
Fortunately there’s still rock music that contains all the elements that make ‘music’ worthwhile: song craft, strong musical performances and compositions that have themes and are interesting, rather than banal and lacking these elements entirely.
This all brings us to this fine new release from Californian band Pattern-Seeking Animals with their new album ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’. This ten song album has all of the elements to satisfy fand of well crafted proggy rock&pop.

Pattern-Seeking Animals are the vehicle that songwriter / keyboardist John Boegehold uses for his music, he is accompanied by most of the current line up of Spock’s Beard. On this album there is also a string section that adds significant orchestral elements to the music.
In addition, for this album, extra attention has been focused on the vocals / harmonies and that attention and focus has paid significant benefits, this means that the songs really are memorable and stay with you, long after the album has concluded.
This time around PSA have changed this around a little to create something that is different to what has gone beforehand and this has been very successful.

Pattern Seeking Animals have a highly melodic approach and quality of music that seduces at first listen. The album has lots of excellent arrangements and perfect performances, and opener The Man Made Of Stone sets the stall out with a very memorable chorus and enough changes of direction, through all of which there is a central melody that is recurrent and impresses greatly.
This is followed by the storming Window To The World which, again, features some unusual time signatures and rhythmic sections that work together to make something that is both different and unusual, yet also an a extremely fine listen. The lyrics are strong and the vocals are powerful and clear with the backing vocals sounding especially fine.
What Awaits Me is hinged on a repeated bass run that plays to the bands musical strengths. Again, the string section add touches that enhance the song greatly. This track serves to emphasise just what a great band PSA are and what worth they have and offer, this is quality stuff, lovingly and carefully crafted with every song working to create a cohesive album.

The fourth song, He Once Was, is another fascinating track, slightly downbeat in tone as it is a song about a soldiers wartime reflections. This piece is very moving and well constructed, with great musicianship, it is also the albums’ longest song and the extended length gives room to expand and the time is used wisely and thoughtfully, with sections being recognisable, and different enough, to retain the listeners interest throughout. I really like this track as it shows the great skill that has gone into its making.
Again, I am reminded of the classic sound of Kansas, who PSA have a similarity as they have a similar mix of sound and depth.

Underneath The Orphan Moon continues the album with another excellent melody with a great vocal, sympathetic strings and bass that adds to the great dynamics of this shorter track. It is a very satisfyingly fine one at that, with excellent bass work anchoring the song wonderfully, this song oozes emotion and class.
Clouds That Never Rain is a very upbeat and sprightly track with a recurring riff that leads the track well. An impassioned vocal really adds soul and the background vocals are especially strong. The song is only a shortish one but has lots contained within its five plus minutes running time.

The catchy Bulletproof has a refrain that others would kill for! Somewhere North Of Nowhere is another fine track, seemingly about Aliens hunting people after an invasion. Again, there are lots of impressive bass work and touches, including some great keyboard embellishments. This is followed by Summoned From Afar, which is about a reluctant warrior victorious in her last battle. There are a lot of layers to this track, with subtle use of other instruments like the flute and mandolin to enhance the overall sound palette and spectrum, another most impressive track that will stay with you for certain.
The album closes with Love Is Still The Light, a very poignant and gentle song with a really great vocal performance from Ted Leonard. This is a beautiful heartfelt track that tells us that ‘Love Is Still The Answer, Love Is Still The Light’. It has a neat and brief guitar solo that plays counterpoint to the vocals and really grabs the attention and this song closes the album gracefully.

This edition comes with an extra disc including a studio track, short and poppy, and three live tracks captured last year live a ProgStock. On stage the band sounds so perfect, and find room to jam and deliver some impressive instrumentation.

This is an album of significant worth and value with some great performances and musicianship from all the band. The changes to recording location and production that the band have utilised has definitely reaped great rewards.
If you want modern progressive rock / rock&pop with both style and substance then ”Spooky Action at a Distance” will hopefully meet that requirement for you.
HIGHLY Recommended


(CD 1)
01 – The Man Made of Stone
02 – Window to the World
03 – What Awaits Me
04 – He Once Was
05 – Underneath the Orphan Moon
06 – Clouds That Never Rain
07 – Bulletproof
08 – Somewhere North of Nowhere
09 – Summoned from Afar
10 – Love Is Still the Light

(CD 2)
01 – There Goes My Baby
02 – Orphans of the Universe (Live at ProgStock 2022)
03 – Elegant Vampires (Live at ProgStock 2022)
04 – Time Has a Way (Live at ProgStock 2022)

Ted Leonard – lead vocals, guitar
Dave Meros – bass
John Boegehold – keyboards
Jimmy Keegan – drums, vocals



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