I had never heard of Agent Fresco before reading the post of Ben Harris-Hayes of Enochian Theory. The post wasn’t directly about Agent Fresco but he mentioned he was listening to them. Any time that a musician that I like name checks another band, I take notice. Upon further review, I had to review the new Agent Fresco album, “Destrier.”
To start with, it doesn’t hurt that Agent Fresco is from Iceland. I love Icelandic bands like Sólstafir and Sigur Rós, but to be clear, Agent Fresco does not sound like either. They do have some post rock moments here and there but it’s just used as one weapon in their massive arsenal.
Agent Fresco sound like if Leprous and Mew merged into a bigger and arguably better band. Part of it is the vocals of Arnór Dan Arnarson, who has an incredible range. Arnarson can hit some obscenely high notes but not to the point of excess. Instead, he varies his approach to fit the songs.
And every song is distinctive and unique because not only are they addictive from a melodic stand point but they are also quite intricate musically. Agent Fresco are the point where art rock and accessibility meet. Do you like falsettos? Do you like odd time signatures? Do you like a bizarre atonal guitar break followed by beautiful keyboards? The title track has all of those!
They have the songs. That’s what makes “Destrier” so interesting and yes, addictive. “Dark Water” and “Wait for Me” should be huge hits. They will be in the more progressive areas of the globe. “Wait for Me” has some amazing high notes, plus angular guitar lines and some tasteful piano. Both of those last two are courtesy of Þórarinn Guðnason, who has what seems like a crazy number of complex riffs to choose from.
Another thing I found to be interesting is that song length really doesn’t matter. Agent Fresco can get as much done in 3 minutes as most bands can in 10! “Howls” is the perfect example. Catch but strange riff, KILLER chorus, and tight arrangement. What about a song that’s just a minute and a half? Witness “Citadel.” The song could be considered an intro to the following track “See Hell” if it wasn’t a great song on its own, regardless of length.
“Destrier” has so much variety on it, from song to song. There is not a hint of filler on this album at all. For those that want to scare of the prog posers in your life, play the song “Angst.” It’s short. It gets really heavy and acts like repellant to those who can’t handle a sudden large wave on an already rocky sea.
And that’s the point, this album has it all. From the post rock intro of “Let Them See Us” to the very proggy closer “Mono No Aware,” this is an album that fans of modern progressive rock need to own. Agent Fresco are fearless and incredibly creative, like true artists should be. “Destrier” is a true piece of art.
1. Let Them See Us
2. Dark Water
5. Wait For Me
7. The Autumn Red
9. See Hell
10. Let Fall The Curtain
13. Death Rattle
14. Mono No Aware
Label: Long Branch Records