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Pure Reason Revolution


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Pure Reason Revolution are a British Prog Rock band formed by Jon Courtney and Chloë Alper at the University of Westminster, London in 2003. Their music incorporates elements of Progressive Rock, Folk Rock with sprinklings of Electropop for good measure. Fair to say their sound is an amalgamation of such diverse influences as Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, Porcupine Tree, Nirvana, Kraftwerk, Chemical Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Main songwriter and creative force Courtney had previously played with Pop Punk guitar band Gel, which was scouted and signed by Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records. Their sole album 'Sparkly Things' was released in 1998. Alper used to front the Indie Punk band Period Pains, who scored a hit with an anti-Spice Girls song 'Spice Girls (Who Do You Think You Are?)' in 1997.

Pure Reason Revolution began life as a Reading Indie band called The Sunset Sound, which featured Jon Courtney, Chloë Alper and Jim Dobson, but it was during their time at the University of Westminster (2000 - 2003) where Courtney, brother Andrew, Chloë Alper, Greg Jong and Jim Dobson came together to form Pure Reason Revolution, going through a number of name changes along the way including "The Wow" and "Pendulum Dawn". The band's name was inspired by Courtney's University thesis on the nature of genius and its application to Beach Boy Brian Wilson, for which he studied Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant.

Their first single 'Apprentice of the Universe' was released on Alan McGee's Poptones label in 2004. By autumn 2004 they signed to SonyBMG and the following year saw the band releasing two singles - 'Bright Ambassadors of Morning' (the title is from a line in Pink Floyd's ‘Echoes’ on the ‘Meddle’ album), and 'The Intention Craft' - plus one mini-album, 'Cautionary Tales for the Brave'. Their first full-length album, 'The Dark Third' was released in April 2006, and was produced by Paul Northfield (Rush, Porcupine Tree, Gentle Giant, Dream Theater). Sadly, due to low record sales, Sony dropped them in December 2006.

The second album 'Amor Vincit Omnia' was released in March 2009 on the Superball Music label and was a departure from their more dreamy, classic-Prog style of 'The Dark Third', with electronic elements now becoming a greater and more prominent part of their sound. The title of the album is Latin for 'Love Conquers All', alluding to Vergil's famous line from Eclogue 10.69. It is also a reference to the painting Amor Vincit Omnia by the Italian baroque painter Caravaggio, completed circa 1601. Their third album 'Hammer and Anvil' was released via Superball Music in October 2010, co-produced by Courtney and Tom Bellamy (The Cooper Temple Clause). The new music continued the dark, electronic themes of 'Amor Vincit Omnia', and was partially inspired by themes of World War I and II.

The band parted ways in November 2011 following touring in support of their 2010 album 'Hammer and Anvil', releasing their final EP, 'Valour' in November 2011. Since then, Jon Courtney formed an electronic duo with vocalist Sammi Doll called Bullet Height and released their debut album ‘No Atonement’ in 2017, while Chloë Alper formed a new Rock band with Grammy and MOBO nominated multi-instrumentalist Mat Collis called Tiny Giant in 2015. Their first single 'Joely' was released in May 2016, which won them a nomination for the Limelight (New Band) award at the Progressive Music Awards Eon Music. They released a further three singles, 'School of Hard Knocks', 'Draw Me A Line' and 'Thirsty & Sad'.

In June 2019 Courtney and Alper re-united as Pure Reason Revolution and played the Midsummer Prog Festival, Openluchtheater, Valkenburg, Netherlands. Courtney and Alper were the only returning members. The reunion was a huge success and with refreshed enthusiasm and renewed chemistry they set about writing and recording new material. The resulting new album 'Eupnea' was released in April 2020 on Inside Out Music. Their fourth album and first for ten years was produced by Paul Northfield, who produced their debut album 'The Dark Third' in 2006, and features collaborations with former guitarist Greg Jong. The album title 'Eupnea' means natural relaxed unconscious breathing. Containing just six songs, but with two of the tracks exceeding the ten minute mark, it is an ambitious and multifaceted album that draws on the bands strengths from the early psych-Prog of the first album to the more experimental experiences of the second and third albums.

The album opens with the dramatic and intense 'New Obsession', delicate atmospheric synths set the foundation with the sound of heartbeats, telephone rings, and hospital monitor beeps gently passing through to add dramatic weight. The track builds layer by layer with sparse sweet guitar plucking over insistent drums before waves of synths wash over adding further texture. The tempo increases before insistent and intricate melodic vocal interplay between Courtney and Alper enter. The blend of the two voices is quite sublime and magically majestic. The harmonic interplay between Courtney and Alper is a key focal point that defines the essence and overall strength of the band. Heavy crunchy guitars and thunderous drums punch through the wash of Electronica making their presence felt and adding weight to the overall bombastic story unfolding. Segueing smoothly from the slow fade of the opening track, 'Silent Genesis' is a behemoth of a song that unfolds and sprawls over ten minutes. The opening starts with fragile and frail crackling synth textures and electronic beats before the driving drum rhythm is established, silken shimmering slide guitar proceeds to weave between the beats before erupting euphorically into a cacophony of snarling over driven electric guitar power chords peppered with intricate phrases and melodic passages. The songs unfolding epic journey is multifaceted with dips into tender serenity and moments of intense jubilation and intoxication!

'Maelstrom', one of the shorter songs on the album, opens with a lone hypnotic drum pattern before Alper's celestial vocals launch themselves into the maelstrom of hooky piano and rumbling bass. Courtney's voice then joins Alper's in the harmonic euphony, a pleasing melodic chorus gives the track delectable prominence. Proceedings take a darker turn with 'Ghosts & Typhoons', which is a gradually building track that starts dark and brooding with atmospheric and succulent synthesiser generated textures, tinkering piano runs and soaring sustained electric guitar runs. Irrepressible towering vocal harmonies abound reaching scorching heights of exultation, with delectable tempo changes and elevating blistering crunchy power chording guitars slashing away as though life depended upon it! Exciting and exhilarating stuff!

'Beyond Our Bodies' is the shortest song on the album, clocking at just over four minutes, this track starts out as more of a melodic ballad type piece, but as like the other tracks on the album it starts gentle, gradually building in intensity until all hell breaks loose near the end! The final song on the album is the monumental labyrinthine title track 'Eupnea', all thirteen minutes and twenty three seconds of it! Opening with the immortal words 'Breathe', it already sounds epic before it even gets off the starting block! Sustained Floyd sounding synth chords set the scene with diaphanous airy harmonic vocals gliding over the top. Rampant guitars hammer out perfectly executed repeating melodic phrases, determined to make their musical statement of intent to facilitate and guide the passage of the piece onwards through the maze of sound and upwards into the euphoric stratosphere. Cleverly placed mellow breaks, mood dips and rising crescendos keep the progress of the song vivacious and enticing. Resplendent ethereal vocals from Alper majestically float and weave over sweet melodic passages with style and grace, quite in contrast to the dense heavy and dark interludes that predominate. A gargantuan awe-inspiring track!

The album brims with confidence and feels very refreshed and assured. A full-on kaleidoscope of cinematic colours and dark atmospheric textures with strategically placed elements of exhilarating raucous heavy thrashing go on to make this album a captivating and adventurous masterpiece. Definitely the rebirth of Pure Reason Revolution and with out doubt their finest album.

Steven C. Gilbert

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