“Cascade,” the new music video from John Hickman, releases today. A rarity in the music industry, John Hickman didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a musician. He loved music and took piano lessons as a teenager, but that was the extent of it. Later, Hickman worked as an Aerospace Engineer in Seattle, where his wife gave him a guitar for Christmas. He viewed the guitar as “something to mess around with.” But one thing led to another and, after retiring from the aerospace industry, he moved to Maui and dove headlong into music.
Stylistically, Hickman fits into the alt rock category, claiming influences like Styx, Rush, The Beatles and David Bowie, he blends elements of rock, progressive rock and alternative rock into a sound unrestrained by conventional musical doctrines.
“Cascade” starts off with a solid groove and a bright synth pouring forth with dynamic resonance and rolling energy. As the intro subsides, the synth and a shimmering guitar drive the melody. The melody surges with progressive rock and psychedelic elements reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Project and Queensryche. The rhythmic harmonics provided by the profound bassline and extended snare and bass drum balance the humming synth, giving the tune residual rock backbeat gravity. Raw and ragged, the snare cracks with a metallic undertone, while the bass drum thuds with muffled potency, adding supercharged declarative punctuation. Hickman’s vocals are particularly effective, exuding a dreamy flow as his high tenor glides above the music. Stylish and evocative, his voice infuses a sophisticated veneer of luminosity into the tune. On the solo, the guitar finances a sublime, wailing exegesis to the music, like a magician casting a spell.
The lyrics of “Cascade” relate how benedictions pour down from on high, touch us, and are then enlarged through us.
“Every raindrop falls from the sky / Oh why / Every teardrop falls from an eye / Oh cry / Drifting from the top / The flow will never stop / Energy trickles down / From the heavens to the ground / Every leaf falls from a tree / How could that be / Every river flows into the sea / Naturally / Cascading like a waterfall / Basking in the glow / Shining down upon us all / Reaching down below / Heaven don’t you make me wait / Come and light the way / Let it shine / Heaven don’t you hesitate / I need your love today / So divine.”
The video, animated by Micah Buzan, presents a series of phantasmagoric psychedelic images, ranging from Hickman’s Mt. Rushmore-like visage singing to multi-colored, fractal-like explosions of nature. Interplanetary whales swim through deep space, while schools of fish cavort around planets. Through and above it all floats Hickman, encapsulated in a Kubrickian bubble, playing the keyboards. Taken as a whole, when combined with the music, the video depicts a tumble of hearing-secret-harmonies mirages that whirl and spiral bereft of constraint.
“Cascade” has it going on! The pulsing synth provides a big, booming torrent of music, like a sonic waterfall. The emerging themes coalesce into a contagious melody that, along with Hickman’s keening voice and the powerful rhythm, projects a slo-mo hurricane of harmony. You do not want to miss this powerful example of what progressive rock should sound like.
Find out more about John Hickman here and here.