My jealousy of Ed Bernard knows no bounds. Why? Well let’s back up and explain who he is, for those who are unaware. Ed Bernard is the guitarist, well okay multi-instrumentalist behind the band Druckfarben. If you don’t know them, you need to go check them out as well. Ed can play so many different instruments, it’s quite unfair to refer to him as just a guitarist. Though his guitar playing is sublime. This leads to my jealousy.
Ed’s solo album “Polydactyl” showcases Ed, as a solo album should. He does virtually all the instruments, except the drums AND he sings. This includes: mandolins, guitars, violin, bass, and keyboards. He is a virtuoso on ALL of these instruments plus as I said he sings and I love his rich voice. He wrote, mixed and produced “Polydactyl” as well. I hate him. How does one person have all this talent?!? It’s really not fair to people like me with no real talent at all.
The album starts with an instrumental in the spirit of Spock’s Beard called “Symfoprogru.” It’s technical as hell yet quite melodic; a perfect showcase for Ed’s playing. The song really sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Derealization” was released via Bandcamp ahead of the album. This 8 plus minute song has an unforgettable melody, one that I found myself singing along to after only a few listens. The song makes a few amazing detours along the way, culminating with Ed’s superb violin playing. What a GREAT track. It has a bit of a Steven Wilson meets Rush vibe.
The next track “Entitled” should be released as a single. If we were back in the 70s, this song would actually get played. It’s a bright, upbeat song with great harmonies. Yes meets Genesis at a mellotron store. “Eyes Everywhere” opens with some nifty mandolin playing because Ed can play that too. The bass line is very reminiscent of Chris Squire. The song has a jazzy verse with yet another KILLER chorus that I have to sing along with. Just a fantastic track.
“Running” was the second track I heard off “Polydactyl.” I remember getting a message from Ed which he said to check out this song. I sat there and listened to this song and was dumb founded. It reminds me a bit of “Entangled” by Genesis with an even stronger chorus than that song. The other difference is that “Running” kicks in and really takes off. Amazing keyboard work, mandolins, and more harmonies than you can believe.
The fact that Ed is such a skilled mandolin player adds an element to this album that many prog artists just don’t have. It’s cool that bands like Gazpacho actually have someone who plays violin and mandolin. “Withywindle” is an instrumental that actually reminds me a bit of Gazpacho since it focuses on those instruments along with an organ and other vintage keyboards.
“1000 Hates” is a good old kick ass prog rocker tune. It has a nice mix of the acoustic instruments along with electric guitar work during the chorus. “The Quiet Race” is a little funky which is yet another side of Mr. Bernard who by now is just rubbing my nose in his ability. This song is the must Druckfarben like as far as I am concerned which is natural but also cool that you can feel the link to what Ed has done before. “Bring it Home” does just that. It’s a nice all acoustic folk number.
“Polydactyl” is a true solo album by an amazing talent that deserves to be heard by the masses. Yes, Ed Bernard has the chops but more importantly he writes great songs with strong hooks and melodies. Add in that the artwork has cats on it (I love cats) since the title references cats born with extra toes. Maybe Ed has extra fingers!! There has to be an explanation for how great this album is. This album is essential if you consider yourself a fan of true progressive rock. It is released on November 2oth.
4. Eyes Everywhere
7. 1000 Hates
8. The Quiet Race
9. Bring it Home