The Lemming Shepherds

Symphony for the Census

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Though it sports some truly bizarre cover artwork -- a cartoon of a wise old lemming guiding a horde of young lemming disciples -- that still doesn't prepare the listener for the Lemming Shepherds' Symphony for the Census. The densely orchestrated synth strings, gusts of acoustic guitar, and phased vocals on "Serious Isolation" recall the heyday of prog rock as well as its parodies, such as Ween's "Squelch the Little Weasel." And though the arrangements on instrumentals -- such as "Heartstrings" and "Stargazer" -- are well-conceived, the overly slick, digital-sounding instrumentation and production make them sound cheap and dated. Symphony for the Census also features a CD-ROM-accessible storybook mapping out the album's concept (something about a couple of misfit lemmings who fall in love and survive the predictable fate of their species), which adds another fascinating level to this strange but heartfelt release.

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