Considered a “thinking man’s” band, The Alea Dilemma, a local progressive rock band, has released its first CD “Within the Clamor of Voices,” with many of the lyrics written by Danny Brymer, adjunct music instructor at State Fair Community College.
The band consists of Brymer, of Sedalia, Ryan Sloan, of Kansas City, and Todd Crookston, formerly of Sedalia, now of Independence. Brymer and Sloan had a band together previously while attending college in Denver, Colorado. Together, they have been creating music for more than a decade.
After college, Brymer moved to Texas, and Sloan to Kansas City. When Brymer came back to Missouri to take the position at SFCC the two decided to create The Alea Dilemma. They added Crookston, a drummer, in spring 2014.
“He kind of cut his teeth playing drums around here from what he’s told us,” Brymer said. “When we auditioned him, we were blown away by him. He knew a lot of the same stuff that we liked.”
Brymer, the band’s vocalist, is the musical director while Sloan is the booking manager and bassist. The men chose the band’s name with a philosophical idea in mind. “Alea” means dice in Latin.
“The short version of what our name means is the problem of chance,” Sloan said. “That’s really where the name itself comes from. We want to have a sense of thought process behind our music, we consider ourselves a thinking man’s band.”
“Progressive rock at least its origins are back in the late ’60s or early ’70s,” Brymer said. “They were influenced by classical and jazz musicians. A generation of people grew up classically trained and studying jazz while absorbing the sounds of the Beatles … and Jimi Hendrix. So, I wanted to make the style of music that had the power of rock but also had the complexity of art music.
“That’s what I wanted to do with this band was create something that used familiar instruments, bass guitar and drums,” he added. “But, also had this higher aesthetic art form like classical music and jazz music. All very complex and all very rich forms of music.”
The complexity of their music is found on the CD “Within the Clamor of Voices,” released online Nov. 1. Each song on the CD is different and fresh, moving from jazz components and spiraling up into rock in the song “Forsaken Pawns,” then addressing a more mellow sound in “Beyond the Realm.” It also explores an African beat with the song “Survive Another Mile.”
“That’s something that we really strive for when it comes to writing songs,” Sloan said. “Danny is the primary writer. He does about 85 percent of the writing, and Todd and I do the other 15 percent. We want (music) where it shows that we’re personal but still work as one unit.”
“It’s all arranged as a band,” Brymer said of the lyrics.
The lyrics are poetic. The subject matter deep. “Survive Another Mile” deals with emotional abuse of an adopted African child.
“One of the girls that they adopted from Africa just started suffering abuse at the hand of this mother,” Brymer said. “I just felt those words coming, and I paired them with (music) I composed on the piano. Then I inserted the more African tribal sound.
“It’s very much about child abuse, but also about hope,” he added. “Survive another mile, (says) that there is something better out there. You will get through it.”
“It still sends chills down me when I hear the song, because I know how real the events were,” Sloan added.
Brymer said he writes lyrics that “challenge” people to think.
“You have older bands like Queen that have incredible lyrics,” Sloan added. “Queen, Pink Floyd and Kansas, they had such great thought-provoking lyrics. They really ruled the ’70s in terms of rock music.”
The Alea Dilemma’s song “Altars,” written by both Brymer and Sloan, carries a blues/bluegrass style and addresses the issues of trust.
“That was one that started off with my idea,” Sloan said. “As a bass player, I try to think outside the box. I do a lot of cord work.”
He said he sat down and came up with a “cool and groovy” blues cord progression and then added some jazz for Brymer’s benefit.
“Then, he took it away and wrote that main driving riff off my cord progression,” Sloan added. “The chorus also came from an idea I had, from my old rock background …”
They deviated from the typical song format, placing two verses first and then the chorus.
“That one’s always a lot of fun to play live,” Brymer said. “I think people get into that one, it has a consistent groove to it. I like the bluesy feel of it.”
The lyrics of “Altars” addresses putting one’s complete faith and trust in politicians or other high profile individuals. It also explores the concept that we are all human and we all fail at some point.
The men said they believe the band’s message is positive.
“You’ll never see profanity in the lyrics,” Brymer said. “I don’t want to preach to anyone. I have my own views and I don’t think they are totally obvious by reading them.
“I’d like our music to appeal to people of different viewpoints,” he added.”I’d like people of different backgrounds to be able to see something in our music and enjoy it.”
The band, who plays mostly in Kansas City and at The Bay in Warrensburg, has a style that is often compared to Rush, Yes, Kansas, King’s X and King Crimson. In the future they hope to play more venues in Sedalia and in the Columbia and Lawrence, Kansas, areas.
“We have connections in San Antonio and Austin (Texas), so that’s the furthest place we’re looking at,” Sloan said. “Then, also Denver, because I still have connections out there.”
The Alea Dilemma will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 at Coda Bar & Grill, 1744 Broadway Blvd., in Kansas City.
“It’s what they are starting to call a listening room,” Sloan said. “It’s about a 100-person venue, they have a bar and food. But, really, it’s a place where people can just go and sit and enjoy a band.”
“Within the Clamor of Voices” may be purchased on iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon or by contacting The Alea Dilemma on their Facebook page or at www.thealeadilemma.com. The CD is also available locally at Instrumental Influence Inc., 3127 W. Broadway Blvd. 827-3004.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.