For Australian prog rocker Dan Webb, timeliness is everything. He set a self-imposed deadline to finish recording by Election Day and to release his new LP, Oedipus the King, on Inauguration Day. The album’s heady political commentary proves that even the mild-mannered Australians are railing against US politics. “This album is all about truth and expressing that in whichever form came naturally,” he explains.
In fact, lead single “Let Them Eat Cake” was inspired by WikiLeaks’ release of DNC emails. Webb noticed the breaking news trending on Twitter, then just as the story was heating up, it mysteriously vanished. Enraged, Webb penned the sneering, volatile track, on which he lashes out not only at the state of the world, but takes on his own career, too. “I’m not Katy Perry,” he sings, “so I can’t expect kids would wanna play me… at least anytime soon.”
Besides its political origins, Oedipus the King also reflects Webb’s musical pedigree. Despite a large chunk of his catalog falling into a psychedelic or Avant-garde bag, Webb cut his chops on the jazz greats like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea. As a result, over half of his new album is instrumental. The album’s overture, in particular, takes a jazz template and transforms it synthetically, setting the tone for what to expect on the ensuing tracks.
From there, Webb is off and running. The album’s second track, “Day One,” is a mish-mash of instrumentation and vocals that makes it clear that the listener is in for a wild ride. From there, however, Webb manages to reel it in a bit, settling on a sound more palatable for all types of listeners. The most mainstream tracks, “Missed Opportunity,” “Look What’s Become of You,” and “Got to Know” meld traditional rock and pop with some alternative licks, creating a sound slightly reminiscent of the 1975’s recent output.
Meanwhile, it would be a tragedy to not highlight other sublime instrumentals, like the bossa-nova-esque “Cool Spain” and “Sojourn,” which is just begging for lyrics.
Overall, Dan Webb has taken the world today to task and created a piece of art. From start to finish, it’s a snapshot of not only the US political climate but also the future of music. Instead of marrying himself to one particular sound or style, Webb creates something unheard of — and has the audacity to sprinkle in a few instrumentals for good measure. It’s not only the perfect soundtrack for the next four years, but because of its progressive nature, the next forty, too.