ALBUM REVIEW: Pomegranate Tiger – All Input Is Error


On All Input Is Error (Self-Released), Canada’s Pomegranate Tiger (aka prog multi-instrumentalist and accomplished composer Martin Andres) takes a topical AI concept and runs with it. Does he win the race? Yes, in the end – even if the final fate of humankind is ultimately unknown (there are no lyrics, you see, so you can make up your own mind, all you creatives out there). 


OK, it’s prog, but what kind of prog? Definitely metal, but pretty much all kinds, including djent. Technically complex, heavy on synchronisation and syncopation, frantically and rhythmically brain-boggling, gut-punching, and Meshuggah shagging. Within this record’s DNA is a Definite Nod (to the) avant-garde (i.e. John Coltrane). 


A concept album that’s wholly instrumental poses the question of how exactly it gets the “message” and the “story” across, but (in my head) the music conjures up visions of out-of-control robots in a techno-war, with shades of Nine Inch Nails industrial chaos. Don’t ask me exactly how it conjures up all that, it just DOES. Repeated listenings may offer deeper insight. 


Do the “songs” become memorable, individual entities? I’ll leave that with you, and, again, time will tell, but maybe that’s not the point. Let’s just say the Pomegranate Tiger universe is a good, good place to be. After a few hours (or days) away, you may well be drawn back, like a cautious, bloodied wolf, returning to a familiar water source, whatever the risk. Your velvet tongue dried to harsh gravel driveway stuff, dude.



Opener “Devils To Ourselves” showcases the Fripp-style pickin’ discipline of King Crimson, and some Dream Theater geetar riffing. Bass sounds are often to the fore (see “Poison Pen”, for example), offering a propulsive, go-ahead energy as well as narratively punctuating perilous positions of inescapable sci-fi menace – try saying that when a mental robot is chasing you and AI is threatening the planet. The heavy and decidedly off-kilter “The Great Filter”, with its enigmatic handclaps finale, sounds like evil mind-control in sinister action, the musical equivalent of the worst hangover ever, plus chaos, in a good way.


Tracks don’t outstay their welcome (“Burn The Spirit” is longest at almost seven minutes), but could one say things sound a bit samey after a while? Well, yeah – ”False Dawn”, in its transcendent brilliance, probably sums the whole thing up, but this is still an intriguing, intelligent, and intense musical odyssey, even if the helter-skelter craziness considerably outweighs any sense of wonder, or any spiritual flights of freedom. Also, while the whole AI concept is bang up to date, the theme of technology (or a higher power) threatening the world (particularly artists and musicians) is old hat, even by prog standards.


“The Cryptographer”, yet another genuine, mind-bending tour de force, has more chugging bass, more nightmarish “ghost in the machine” effects, while “Metasphere” ups the riff-tastic riffage. Bits of “Metasphere”, like other sections of the album, sound like the extended, quasi-improvised guitar segueways Matt Bellamy churns out between proper songs at live Muse outings, and that’s meant as a compliment. The interplay between guitar and drums is often the key to this particular sonic puzzle.


The aforementioned “Burn The Spirit” is a spectacular centrepiece (seventh track out of ten, actually), the virtuoso musical dexterity in full evidence, the emotional intensity to the fore, the throbbing, synthy sounds providing the forward thrust as the ship rocks and rolls, with the last of us, the ragged remnants of human civilization, tied to the mast (or helm, or whatever the best futuristic, space-y equivalent is – you tell me).


Respite from this challenging experiment’s general aural craziness is offered by the title track, which opens acoustically and almost medieval before taking a trip forward through time to catch up with the techno-soundscape, while the closing “Keyways” (The drums! The drums! Drums in the deep!) performs much the same trick. “Dagger Dance” is another track that realises calm, space and tranquillity are much needed to fully take in all these ideas.


The cover artwork is … remarkable. The “naff” moniker? Well, I always thought Porcupine Tree was a daft name, so what do I know? I also think Urne is all wrong, because it looks so much like “Urine”, but their new album is far from pish. Pomegranate Tiger makes a return here with the first album in eight years – he’s been touring and working with Gojira, Devin Townsend, and others – and, the impending AI apocalypse notwithstanding, hopefully, we won’t have to wait so long for the next installment.


Could it all be reproduced live? I fckn well hope so – I’m there! But wait, I have to go now, those robots are still chasing me – those dang robots… (Review terminated – Ed).


Buy the album here:

9 / 10