I have been involved in developing a few mission statements over the years, and it is not something I really enjoy doing as there is always the risk of overstating/understating the intent, and then the business not living up to it anyway. Not every business does this of course, and even fewer bands, but you can read United Progressive Fraternity’s on their website, “To produce great music, as a collective concept, whilst conveying a message of peace, hope and global awareness”. There is a lot more than that of course, but this is the core. Hence we now have the second part of ‘Secondary Overload’, following on from 2019’s ‘Loss’. The core of the band are the duo of Mark Trueack (vocals) and Steve Unruh (vocals, guitars, sitar guitar, bass, bass pedals, thumb piano, violin, flute, wind chimes, tambourine, percussion, narration, harmony vocals), but then there are a whole host of guests involved including the likes of Charlie Cawood, JPL, Ryo Okomuto and Steve Hackett but if you are that interested you will need to look them up yourselves as there are about 40! Also, if the nealy two hours of music is not enough then if you purchase it from Bandcamp you get an additional album, ‘The Secret Life of Light’, featuring an additional nine songs (68 minutes) by UPF’s “Romantechs” (Christophe Labled, Mark Trueack, Steve Unruh) which takes us up to a running time of three hours!
This is progressive rock, with loads of different elements and influences as one would expect from the involvement of so many musicians. It can be somewhat overpowering at times, with so many threads and layers that they can blend into each other, yet what makes this work is at the heart of this are some really strong melodies and songs and one can never deny the power of the lyrics and words. This is all about communication and something which brings this really home are the tracks which are just speeches from the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Chief Oren Lyons – that they have been brought in without any trickery really makes them stand out and brings the message strongly home that we are damaging our planet, but we can still reverse what we have done so far, hence “Hope”. This is not an album which can be drifted into, there needs to be a deliberate decision to sit and really listen to it, played on headphones when one has the time to concentrate and not be disturbed. Given the amount of work which has gone into this, the amount of people involved, and the small matter of a global pandemic it is no surprise this album too much longer to appear than was expected, and while there are elements quite reminiscent at times of The Flower Kings this is very much an album which stands on its own. There is a lot to take in here, both lyrically and musical volume, but it is definitely worth the effort.