The original aim of the blog was to promote discussion about all and any facet of progressive rock but from time to time, bands and musicians contact ProgBlog with new prog-related material that they want to expose to a wider audience; ProgBlog's album of 2017 An Invitation by Amber Foil was one such approach.
The range of styles ProgBlog has been exposed to through this route has helped to expand and challenge my listening habits but time constraints have meant that not all submissions have received the attention that they deserve.
The DISCovery section has been introduced to better serve the requirements of musicians who contact ProgBlog with the aim of increasing the audience for their music; without music there can be no discussion of music.
Jean-Marc Perc began playing the guitar at age nine and his education eventually resulted in graduation from university in Vienna with a degree in Music. His writing skill was first aired on the short instrumental track Myra (available from his Bandcamp page https://thelastcell.bandcamp.com/), begun in 2013 and completed in 2016; it’s very representative of his style, a combination of interesting-interval djent and melodic shredding, all carried out with outstanding technical dexterity. Released under the banner of his stage name The Last Cell, the five-track EP Nautilus followed in 2018 where, amidst the prog-metal there’s a very pleasant surprise; the picked acoustic Ocean Floor which reveals a very different side. Highly melodic with some jazz-phrasing which also features guest cello, the tune is the most obvious example of Perc’s innate musicality.
The Nautilus EP is an instrumental concept piece, telling the story of the origin of life, the struggle for survival and its inevitable end. Separated from Nautilus by the single track We the People (from September 2018), the just-released Continental Drift, another entirely instrumental cut, continues the ‘creation through chaos’ theme of the previous EP, once more aided by the exceptionally able Lukas Florian on bass. Taking a post-humanity cosmological view the music describes the process leading to the eventual extinction of the universe where, just before the final moment, all that remains is the last cell. There’s even some nice continuity in the artwork that graces the two EPs, created by Lukas Wagner, stamping a distinct identity on the Last Cell brand.
Opening track Landslide indicates that Continental Drift isn’t just about guitar. Of course it has Perc’s trademark high-speed fretboard runs but there’s a respite from the onslaught with the introduction of a few bars of rhapsodic piano (like all the studio drum parts, this is programmed by Perc). Piano also features in Flora and Fauna, helping to broaden the palette but it’s the short acoustic Pebblestone, like Ocean Floor from the Nautilus EP, which stands out as something creative, sensitive and reflective. In this context, it’s a bit like Steve Howe’s Mood for a Day sandwiched between the angular South Side of the Sky from Yes’ Fragile and the bombast of Machine Messiah from Drama, as next track Thengana starts as an aggressive djent-inspired piece which eventually subsides into some nice Latin-like guitar and some melodic lead riffs. Title track Continental Drift is well constructed from passages of relatively clean guitar and bubbly bass, slightly distorted lead arpeggios, staccato guitar pinned down by bass and drums, all culminating in some uplifting lead motifs before giving way to a bucolic ambience.
If Nautilus set down a marker for technical proficiency, then Continental Drift marks a stride forward in strength of composition. Given the appropriate publicity, I suspect there’s a bright future for this prog-metal guitarist from the Alps.
The Last Cell - We the People
The Last Cell - Continental Drift
The Last Cell (L - R: Robin Weber [drums for live performances], Jean-Marc Perc, Lukas Florian) - photo (c) Alex Hoeller