The Aaron Clift Experiment
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The Aaron Clift Experiment

Austin, TX | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Austin, TX | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Rock Progressive

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The best kept secret in music

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Following the release of their 2012 album, Lonely Hills, Austin-Texas based band The Aaron Clift Experiment received some well-earned comparisons to progressive rock icons like Genesis and Porcupine Tree. True, the progressive rock comparisons have merit but the band was also influenced by classical music and jazz and display that well-rounded musical experience on Lonely Hills. Handling the vocals and keyboards, Aaron Clift receives solid backup from his band, including Joe Resnick (drums), Joe Green (bass) and Jim Ragland (guitars). In 2013, Jim Ragland left the band and was replaced by guitarist Danny Brymer. The songs on Lonely Hills are very well written, featuring unique-sounding harmonies, arrangements and a wealth of intriguing melodies. The Aaron Clift Experiment's web site features a series of videos filmed during the recording sessions for the album, including a 10 minute documentary entitled, 'The Making Of Lonely Hills.' A most impressive first album from prog-rock trendsetters, The Aaron Clift Experiment, Lonely Hills also benefits from fine CD packaging that features all the song lyrics. www.AaronClift.com. - Music Web Express 3000


Following the release of their 2012 album, Lonely Hills, Austin-Texas based band The Aaron Clift Experiment received some well-earned comparisons to progressive rock icons like Genesis and Porcupine Tree. True, the progressive rock comparisons have merit but the band was also influenced by classical music and jazz and display that well-rounded musical experience on Lonely Hills. Handling the vocals and keyboards, Aaron Clift receives solid backup from his band, including Joe Resnick (drums), Joe Green (bass) and Jim Ragland (guitars). In 2013, Jim Ragland left the band and was replaced by guitarist Danny Brymer. The songs on Lonely Hills are very well written, featuring unique-sounding harmonies, arrangements and a wealth of intriguing melodies. The Aaron Clift Experiment's web site features a series of videos filmed during the recording sessions for the album, including a 10 minute documentary entitled, 'The Making Of Lonely Hills.' A most impressive first album from prog-rock trendsetters, The Aaron Clift Experiment, Lonely Hills also benefits from fine CD packaging that features all the song lyrics. www.AaronClift.com. - Music Web Express 3000


The Aaron Clift Experiment is a four piece band comprising Aaron Clift (Keyboards/Vocals), Jim Ragland (Guitars), Joe Green (Bass) and Joe Resnick (Drums). Aaron Clift himself started very early in music (at the age of 2) and was into formal musical education at 11. Although he did spend some years as a classical composer, he was drawn towards what he perceived as the “adrenalin rush” which was only available through the live audience participation in rock music. This led to songs being written back in 2007 which would ultimately appear on this, the debut album, Lonely Hills, by the band.
Think of bands such as Styx, Kansas, Genesis, Pink Floyd and not forgetting Jethro Tull (the band and not the man who invented the seed drill) and The Moody Blues, and then throw in a chunk of experimentation (no pun intended) and you get a sound that encompasses symphonic prog rock, hard rock, classic rock and also a little AOR. Not what you would refer to as “classic” prog rock but the music on Lonely Hills is certainly nearer that genre than some recent releases.
Unlike many prog albums, Lonely Hills contains several short tracks, but each of these is a little nugget of musical excellence .There are 10 tracks on the album with the shortest clocking in at just under 3 minutes (2:54), and the longest running just short of 10 minutes (9:38). Tracks 5-10 form an ambitious suite, “The Castaway Saga” which is an amazing inclusion on a debut album.
The first track, “Seven” (3:21) is an excellent starter to the album with great piano/drums and subdued guitar at the outset and a real change in pace within the first minute. Powerful clear vocals from Aaron soar over the music backbone of the track. Around the 2:30 mark, the track slows right down before climbing back up to the starting tempo. It is a short, snappy and instantly memorable track.
Track 2, “Arsonist Games” (3:21) starts with a guitar (Jim Ragland) which sets up a series of power chords behind the voice and keyboards and there are rhythm changes all within the first 1:30. The bass and drums supplied by Joe Green and Joe Resnick control the pace of the song throughout. Jim gets a chance to show his skills before the track returns to the original pace/melody. Another track…and we are only on the second track that has an instant hook to it.
The title track, “Lonely Hills” (3:52), follows with a gentle piano/vocal intro before the rest of the band appear but maintain the gentle pace which slowly builds with the keyboards becoming more apparent and leading into an “old school” keyboard passage. The track continues with the piano and voice again until the false stop is reached when the voice and the piano become much more plaintive as the track runs to its end.
“My Andalusian Lover,” (4:46) track 4 has a much more up tempo start and purrs along with the characteristic voice of Aaron until the whole track builds up around the 1:30 mark. Good guitar work by Jim and the chorus is very catchy with another nice hook .The track moves through phases, each seamlessly merging with the previous. This is the final “single” track with the rest of the album being the long linked suite.
“The Castaway Saga” whilst made up of six sections each merging into the next is best listened to as a complete entity, but I will try to deal with each individual section. “Shipwrecked” (Part 1) (6:35), starts the suite and we are immediately into a short atmospheric passage before the instruments enter and suggest that there is a problem (a storm to be exact), and the lyrics of Aaron paint the picture of what is happening over the music. Guitarist Jim is again to the forefront ably backed up by the “engine” of Joe G and Joe R. Around the halfway mark there is an excellent guitar/keyboard passage which slowly increases in intensity, together with thunder and waves, which completes the picture of the whole shipwreck. This leads into “The Shell” (Part 2), (6:24) which has a gentle harpsichord-like keyboard beginning with the excellent, clear vocals of Aaron again lyrically brilliant in enabling the listener to soak up the feeling of loss. Drum and keyboards take over forming a backdrop, with another memorable motif, to the vocals. The track continues in the plaintive/forlorn setting until there is a change in pace around 4 minutes, which sees the castaway “raging” against the situation, and then into an instrumental passage led by the superb work of Jim. The keyboards then bring the pace back down, reverting to the piano motif at the start as the track moves towards its finale. “Low Tide” (Part 3i) (2:54) again start with piano/vocals and Aaron’s lyrics painting the scene vividly. The piano work is excellent and the perfect accompaniment to Aaron’s voice. The next track, “Staring At Fruit Out Of Reach,” (Part3ii) (9.38) is the tour-de-force of the suite, commencing with keyboards and guitar, this is a much more up-tempo driving intro. Jim and Aaron share motifs above the musical foundations provide - Muzik Reviews


The Aaron Clift Experiment is a four piece band comprising Aaron Clift (Keyboards/Vocals), Jim Ragland (Guitars), Joe Green (Bass) and Joe Resnick (Drums). Aaron Clift himself started very early in music (at the age of 2) and was into formal musical education at 11. Although he did spend some years as a classical composer, he was drawn towards what he perceived as the “adrenalin rush” which was only available through the live audience participation in rock music. This led to songs being written back in 2007 which would ultimately appear on this, the debut album, Lonely Hills, by the band.
Think of bands such as Styx, Kansas, Genesis, Pink Floyd and not forgetting Jethro Tull (the band and not the man who invented the seed drill) and The Moody Blues, and then throw in a chunk of experimentation (no pun intended) and you get a sound that encompasses symphonic prog rock, hard rock, classic rock and also a little AOR. Not what you would refer to as “classic” prog rock but the music on Lonely Hills is certainly nearer that genre than some recent releases.
Unlike many prog albums, Lonely Hills contains several short tracks, but each of these is a little nugget of musical excellence .There are 10 tracks on the album with the shortest clocking in at just under 3 minutes (2:54), and the longest running just short of 10 minutes (9:38). Tracks 5-10 form an ambitious suite, “The Castaway Saga” which is an amazing inclusion on a debut album.
The first track, “Seven” (3:21) is an excellent starter to the album with great piano/drums and subdued guitar at the outset and a real change in pace within the first minute. Powerful clear vocals from Aaron soar over the music backbone of the track. Around the 2:30 mark, the track slows right down before climbing back up to the starting tempo. It is a short, snappy and instantly memorable track.
Track 2, “Arsonist Games” (3:21) starts with a guitar (Jim Ragland) which sets up a series of power chords behind the voice and keyboards and there are rhythm changes all within the first 1:30. The bass and drums supplied by Joe Green and Joe Resnick control the pace of the song throughout. Jim gets a chance to show his skills before the track returns to the original pace/melody. Another track…and we are only on the second track that has an instant hook to it.
The title track, “Lonely Hills” (3:52), follows with a gentle piano/vocal intro before the rest of the band appear but maintain the gentle pace which slowly builds with the keyboards becoming more apparent and leading into an “old school” keyboard passage. The track continues with the piano and voice again until the false stop is reached when the voice and the piano become much more plaintive as the track runs to its end.
“My Andalusian Lover,” (4:46) track 4 has a much more up tempo start and purrs along with the characteristic voice of Aaron until the whole track builds up around the 1:30 mark. Good guitar work by Jim and the chorus is very catchy with another nice hook .The track moves through phases, each seamlessly merging with the previous. This is the final “single” track with the rest of the album being the long linked suite.
“The Castaway Saga” whilst made up of six sections each merging into the next is best listened to as a complete entity, but I will try to deal with each individual section. “Shipwrecked” (Part 1) (6:35), starts the suite and we are immediately into a short atmospheric passage before the instruments enter and suggest that there is a problem (a storm to be exact), and the lyrics of Aaron paint the picture of what is happening over the music. Guitarist Jim is again to the forefront ably backed up by the “engine” of Joe G and Joe R. Around the halfway mark there is an excellent guitar/keyboard passage which slowly increases in intensity, together with thunder and waves, which completes the picture of the whole shipwreck. This leads into “The Shell” (Part 2), (6:24) which has a gentle harpsichord-like keyboard beginning with the excellent, clear vocals of Aaron again lyrically brilliant in enabling the listener to soak up the feeling of loss. Drum and keyboards take over forming a backdrop, with another memorable motif, to the vocals. The track continues in the plaintive/forlorn setting until there is a change in pace around 4 minutes, which sees the castaway “raging” against the situation, and then into an instrumental passage led by the superb work of Jim. The keyboards then bring the pace back down, reverting to the piano motif at the start as the track moves towards its finale. “Low Tide” (Part 3i) (2:54) again start with piano/vocals and Aaron’s lyrics painting the scene vividly. The piano work is excellent and the perfect accompaniment to Aaron’s voice. The next track, “Staring At Fruit Out Of Reach,” (Part3ii) (9.38) is the tour-de-force of the suite, commencing with keyboards and guitar, this is a much more up-tempo driving intro. Jim and Aaron share motifs above the musical foundations provide - Muzik Reviews


The Aaron Clift Experiment

Lonely Hills

Review by G. W. Hill

These guys have quite an interesting sound. At times they have ties to jazz, but overall they are more of a progressive rock act. Still, even within that stylistic label, there’s a lot of variation. We get music here that’s like Genesis, other sections that are closer to Pink Floyd, things that aren’t that far removed from King Crimson and even Lands End seems a valid comparison at times. All in all, though, this is a disc that should appeal to fans of melodic progressive rock with both modern and classic stylistic links.




Track by Track Review

Seven
Here’s an energetic cut that’s part jam band, part jazz and part progressive rock.


Arsonist Games
There’s a bit of a controlled chaos to the sound on this track. It has a more symphonic prog sound and there’s definitely a great tension to it. Yet there’s also an extremely melodic and sedate movement in the midst. There’s some great guitar soloing on this tune.


Lonely Hills
Starting with piano, this has a modern sound, but yet seems to have some nods to Pink Floyd and early Genesis. It has some intriguing changes and is quite dramatic and powerful. It has a bit of a theatrical air to it.


My Andalusian Love
There is definitely some world music in the mix on this tune. It grows out in a modern progressive rock way. It is one of the most dynamic and diverse tracks. There’s a rather powerful vocal hook and some of the most classic progressive rock is heard at times.


The Castaway Saga


Part 1: Shipwrecked
The mysterious sounds that open this feel a bit like King Crimson. It launches out into some great, slightly off-kilter jamming that is extremely tasty from there. This is the coolest song to this point. It has some great swirling angular guitar interposed with more melodic sections. Fusion and King Crimson like jamming make up this awesome track. Still, some of the melodic movements are really exceptional. Around the three and a half minute mark it shifts to a section that somehow makes me think of Rush’s “Natural Science” a bit. From there, though it works out to some progressive rock that at times seems close to Gentle Giant and at other points seems to flirt with King Crimson again. There is some tasty melodic guitar soloing on the number at times. Eventually the sounds of a storm at sea takes the piece out.


Part 2: The Shell
This is a mellower number that’s rather moody and slow. There is a world music edge to it, along with some Pink Floyd and Genesis. It’s a slow moving number with an accessible vocal line. It really has a great pop rock meets progressive symphonic prog. They take it through some changes before exploding out into a killer jam band meets melodic prog movement later. It’s got a lot of energy and feels a bit like Yes through that segment.


Part 3: I. Low Tide
Piano opens this and the vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. It reminds me a bit of Lands End at times as it grows. There is some serious dissonance as this builds in a balladic fashion.


Part 3: II. Staring at Fruit Out of Reach –
At over nine and a half minutes in length, this is a song of epic proportions. It’s also powerful and dynamic, working through a number of changes and alterations. At times, it’s mellow and pretty at other points it’s more rocking. Again, I’m reminded of Lands End at times, but this modern progressive rock even has hints of The Doors at points.


Part 3: III. High Tide
This number has a bit of a world music vibe as it opens. From there it becomes a folk meets progressive rock ballad.


Part 4: Eye of the Storm
They end the set with a bouncy sort of melodic prog tune that’s got a lot of folk music built into it. - Music Street Journal


The Aaron Clift Experiment

Lonely Hills

Review by G. W. Hill

These guys have quite an interesting sound. At times they have ties to jazz, but overall they are more of a progressive rock act. Still, even within that stylistic label, there’s a lot of variation. We get music here that’s like Genesis, other sections that are closer to Pink Floyd, things that aren’t that far removed from King Crimson and even Lands End seems a valid comparison at times. All in all, though, this is a disc that should appeal to fans of melodic progressive rock with both modern and classic stylistic links.




Track by Track Review

Seven
Here’s an energetic cut that’s part jam band, part jazz and part progressive rock.


Arsonist Games
There’s a bit of a controlled chaos to the sound on this track. It has a more symphonic prog sound and there’s definitely a great tension to it. Yet there’s also an extremely melodic and sedate movement in the midst. There’s some great guitar soloing on this tune.


Lonely Hills
Starting with piano, this has a modern sound, but yet seems to have some nods to Pink Floyd and early Genesis. It has some intriguing changes and is quite dramatic and powerful. It has a bit of a theatrical air to it.


My Andalusian Love
There is definitely some world music in the mix on this tune. It grows out in a modern progressive rock way. It is one of the most dynamic and diverse tracks. There’s a rather powerful vocal hook and some of the most classic progressive rock is heard at times.


The Castaway Saga


Part 1: Shipwrecked
The mysterious sounds that open this feel a bit like King Crimson. It launches out into some great, slightly off-kilter jamming that is extremely tasty from there. This is the coolest song to this point. It has some great swirling angular guitar interposed with more melodic sections. Fusion and King Crimson like jamming make up this awesome track. Still, some of the melodic movements are really exceptional. Around the three and a half minute mark it shifts to a section that somehow makes me think of Rush’s “Natural Science” a bit. From there, though it works out to some progressive rock that at times seems close to Gentle Giant and at other points seems to flirt with King Crimson again. There is some tasty melodic guitar soloing on the number at times. Eventually the sounds of a storm at sea takes the piece out.


Part 2: The Shell
This is a mellower number that’s rather moody and slow. There is a world music edge to it, along with some Pink Floyd and Genesis. It’s a slow moving number with an accessible vocal line. It really has a great pop rock meets progressive symphonic prog. They take it through some changes before exploding out into a killer jam band meets melodic prog movement later. It’s got a lot of energy and feels a bit like Yes through that segment.


Part 3: I. Low Tide
Piano opens this and the vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. It reminds me a bit of Lands End at times as it grows. There is some serious dissonance as this builds in a balladic fashion.


Part 3: II. Staring at Fruit Out of Reach –
At over nine and a half minutes in length, this is a song of epic proportions. It’s also powerful and dynamic, working through a number of changes and alterations. At times, it’s mellow and pretty at other points it’s more rocking. Again, I’m reminded of Lands End at times, but this modern progressive rock even has hints of The Doors at points.


Part 3: III. High Tide
This number has a bit of a world music vibe as it opens. From there it becomes a folk meets progressive rock ballad.


Part 4: Eye of the Storm
They end the set with a bouncy sort of melodic prog tune that’s got a lot of folk music built into it. - Music Street Journal


Like many other bands, The Aaron Clift Experiment has a common instrumental configuration, using only keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals, however, the musical arrangements, sound like a full orchestra, The Aaron Clift Experiment and it's partners, together with the guest musicians, sounds like a splendid result of many influences from glorious progressive rock bands from the 70'. It´s clear that Aaron has strong trends that follow in the line's style Symphonic Progressive Rock, Classic Rock, Hard Rock including touches of AOR. The guitars, keyboards, drums and bass are all great. Everything is very well suited to all musical arrangements, where the instrumental is full of symphonic and melodic details, the same goes for the vocal, where Aaron's vocal tones gives the music a special vibration, making this a joyful trip, with a richly varied and multifaceted musical experiment. "Lonely Hills" is indeed a nice work, the recordings and production are perfects and the songwriting are outstanding, one of those albuns, that is fully into the vibrant and traditional American prog sound, using a similar pattern around bands such as "Procol Harum", Styx", "Klaatu" and "Kansas", but also introducing musical references in the line of european's bands as "Genesis", "Pink Floyd", "Camel", "Yes", "Supertramp", "The Moody Blues" and "Jethro Tull". In fact, "Lonely Hills" contains a collection of superb songs, but, the high point on this album is clearly the song "The Castaway Saga", divided in six parts, is a amazing "Suite", where we can hear a variety of sounds going in different conceptions, but, at the same time, that freely come together as a compositional whole. "Lonely Hills" was recorded in February 2012 at Test Tube Audio Studios – Austin, Texas. All music, lyrics and arrangements by Aaron Clift. Produced by Matt Noveskey and Aaron Clift. Recorded and mixed by Kevin Butler, mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Inc. – Austin, Texas. Art Design by Danielle Powers – Black Marker Design. The main musicians on this fantastic project are: Aaron Clift - Vocals, Keyboards, Jim Ragland - Guitar, Joe Green - Bass and Joe Resnick - Drums. Special guest musicians: Leila Henley - Flute On “Eye Of The Storm”, Kevin Butler - Shaking And Rolling and Matt Noveskey - Knee Slapping And Clapping. Brilliant, amazing and an indispensable work, highly recommendable - Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal Magazine


Like many other bands, The Aaron Clift Experiment has a common instrumental configuration, using only keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals, however, the musical arrangements, sound like a full orchestra, The Aaron Clift Experiment and it's partners, together with the guest musicians, sounds like a splendid result of many influences from glorious progressive rock bands from the 70'. It´s clear that Aaron has strong trends that follow in the line's style Symphonic Progressive Rock, Classic Rock, Hard Rock including touches of AOR. The guitars, keyboards, drums and bass are all great. Everything is very well suited to all musical arrangements, where the instrumental is full of symphonic and melodic details, the same goes for the vocal, where Aaron's vocal tones gives the music a special vibration, making this a joyful trip, with a richly varied and multifaceted musical experiment. "Lonely Hills" is indeed a nice work, the recordings and production are perfects and the songwriting are outstanding, one of those albuns, that is fully into the vibrant and traditional American prog sound, using a similar pattern around bands such as "Procol Harum", Styx", "Klaatu" and "Kansas", but also introducing musical references in the line of european's bands as "Genesis", "Pink Floyd", "Camel", "Yes", "Supertramp", "The Moody Blues" and "Jethro Tull". In fact, "Lonely Hills" contains a collection of superb songs, but, the high point on this album is clearly the song "The Castaway Saga", divided in six parts, is a amazing "Suite", where we can hear a variety of sounds going in different conceptions, but, at the same time, that freely come together as a compositional whole. "Lonely Hills" was recorded in February 2012 at Test Tube Audio Studios – Austin, Texas. All music, lyrics and arrangements by Aaron Clift. Produced by Matt Noveskey and Aaron Clift. Recorded and mixed by Kevin Butler, mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Inc. – Austin, Texas. Art Design by Danielle Powers – Black Marker Design. The main musicians on this fantastic project are: Aaron Clift - Vocals, Keyboards, Jim Ragland - Guitar, Joe Green - Bass and Joe Resnick - Drums. Special guest musicians: Leila Henley - Flute On “Eye Of The Storm”, Kevin Butler - Shaking And Rolling and Matt Noveskey - Knee Slapping And Clapping. Brilliant, amazing and an indispensable work, highly recommendable - Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal Magazine


Discography

Lonely Hills - 2012

Outer Light, Inner Darkness - 2015

If All Goes Wrong - 2018

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Aaron Clift Experiment is a dynamic progressive rock band based in Austin, Texas.  The group’s multi-faceted sound is an innovative blend of classic rock, modern rock, and classical all anchored by the band’s dedication to high-quality songwriting and musicianship.  

“Intricate and subtle yet with raw passion at its heart, The Aaron Clift Experiment is one of the most exciting and interesting bands currently writing and playing music today,” said Martin Hutchinson of Progradar after first hearing the group.  Hutchinson’s enthusiasm has been echoed by other media outlets worldwide, including Prog Magazine, who nominated the band for Best Unsigned Artist of 2013 and for the Progressive Music Award in 2016.

Formed in 2012 as the solo project of Aaron Clift, the band has since blossomed into a powerful live group enriched by the extensive musical background of its members.  The soaring vocals of classically-trained singer and keyboardist, Aaron Clift, are grounded by the powerhouse guitar of Mathew Aboujaoude and rhythm section of Christopher Aboujaoude (bass) and Tim Smith (drums).

In the last few years, the band has carved out a significant worldwide following.  Its last two albums, 2012’s “Lonely Hills,” and 2015’s “Outer Light, Inner Darkness,” were critically-acclaimed progressive rock achievements, landing on several year-end best album lists.  In 2017, the band had a star-making performance at RosFest, one of the largest progressive rock festivals in the world.  

The Aaron Clift Experiment continues to move its dynamic sound forward in its new release, “If All Goes Wrong.”  The album contains the band’s most diverse and electrifying music to date – songs full of enthralling melodies, masterful epics, and addictive pop hooks.

“I’ve always loved music that’s both sophisticated and immediate – challenging but also accessible, and with “If All Goes Wrong,” our music has hit that balance better than at any point in our career,” explained Clift.

Co-songwriter, Devin North, added: “This album challenges what a rock band is capable of and deals with one of the fundamental struggles in being a progressive rock band: playing the established genre of progressive rock and actually making music that progresses forward. Nothing is done half-way on this album.”

As The Aaron Clift Experiment examines its relationship within its musical community in “If All Goes Wrong,” the band also seeks to make sense of the larger world.

“Previous ACE albums were very inward-looking, but this time around, the songs are much more focused on interpersonal relationships as well as the individual's role in society,” said Clift.  “The battle to find peace of mind and love when everything around us seems to be crumbling is a major theme that drives the album.”

In the end, the band believes that music can become a symbol of hope and a force for positive change.  North explains: “While things do fall apart, in “If All Goes Wrong,” we want to show that there can still be a happy ending - a sense of overcoming and coming together as something beautiful and triumphant.”