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2009 : VOLUME 58
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Steve Thorne – Into The Ether
Steve Thorne – Into The Ether
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:F2 Music
Catalogue #:200909
Year of Release:2009
Time:54:48
Info:Steve Thorne
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Kings Of Sin (4:54), Feathers (4:05), Paper Tiger (4:05), Into The Ether (4:13), Granite Man (6:14), Black Dahlia (4:45), Sons Of Tomorrow (6:45), Valerie (3:21), Victims (5:53), The End (5:00), Curtain (5:14)

When the practically unknown Steve Thorne released his first album proper Emotional Creatures: Part One in 2005 the main talking point was the line-up of stellar guest musicians which included Nick D’Virgilio, Tony Levin, Geoff Downes, Martin Orford, Paul Cook and John Jowitt. When Part Two: Emotional Creatures followed two years later Thorne was again backed by D'Virgilio, Levin, Downes and Orford, with additional support from Gavin Harrison, Dave Meros, Pete Trewavas, Gary Chandler and John Mitchell. On this latest release Thorne is unsurprisingly joined by his now customary ‘backing band’ of D'Virgilio (drums) and Levin (bass). Also making a return from the last album is Harrison (drums), Trewavas (bass), Chandler (guitar) and Mitchell (guitar). Making their debut on a Thorne album is John Giblin (bass) and John Beck (keyboards). To say that he has friends in high places is a major understatement.

If you were wondering how the still relatively unknown Mr Thorne manages to attract the attention of the aforementioned prog luminaries then look no further than the opening track Kings Of Sin. The song tells of the exploits of a certain rock band on the road “Through the long hot summer of ‘86” with a distinct autobiographical feel. Following an intro of spacey synth effects it’s accompanied by a suitably weighty shuffle beat with a fat bass sound (from Tony Levin of course) and a gritty almost Middle Eastern flavoured guitar break by John Mitchell. Feathers continues the mood with its urgent but melodic tempo and a very catchy choral refrain. Paper Tiger is delivered at a more relaxed pace creating an air of mystery with an unhurried but still blistering guitar solo offset by string and woodwind effects courtesy of John Beck’s keys.

The title song Into The Ether is a breezy mid-tempo affair with another memorable chorus. The edgy guitar work provides a slightly sinister undercurrent supported by some very solid but not over showy drum work. Granite Man alternates tranquil piano and acoustic guitar backed verses with a monumental guitar and keys sound for the excellent chorus. Throughout prominent fretless bass is supplied by John Giblin. Less than halfway in and it’s already patently obvious that this is one very special album. Black Dahlia combines a very neat bass pattern from Thorne with expansive and layered keyboard textures (from Thorne again) with organ and electric piano recalling Supertramp’s Dreamer.

Like so many of the songs here Sons Of Tomorrow locks itself into your subconscious and refuses to let go thanks to a smooth but totally infectious chorus. The instrumental break features a wonderfully engaging synth hook against a ringing guitar backdrop. An effective change of mood is provided by the exquisite Valerie, a gentle acoustic ballad with accordion, 12 string guitar and (what could easily be) pipes lending a Celtic folk ambiance. Despite the languid tone Thorne delivers some very biting lyrics. Although the title may suggest otherwise Victims has a sunny, upbeat (and slightly commercial) feel with sweeping orchestral punctuations and an uplifting chorus “Lennon said that love is all you need” delivered with just a hint of Phil Collins.

The title of the penultimate The End maybe a tad deceiving but it does provide an effective precursor with the reoccurring line “Now that we’re nearing the end”. It’s underpinned throughout by a compelling guitar riff and takes in a soaring instrumental passage with piano, guitar and sampled violin to the fore. For me Thorne’s voice is at its most assured and dynamic for the concluding Curtain. Following a tender vocal excursion with rippling acoustic guitar it blossoms into a sweeping orchestral soundscape again from the keyboards of John Beck producing oboe, brass and strings. Following a searing guitar solo from Steve himself it builds to a rousing finale powered by typically explosive drum fills from Nick D’Virgilio.

The timing of this album couldn’t be better coming as it does at that point when I, like so many, are reflecting on the successes of 2009. In a year that’s seen new releases from ‘heavyweights’ like IQ, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Transatlantic and The Tangent amongst others, Steve Thorne’s third offering holds its own extremely well. Despite the impressive support the man himself provides vocals, keyboards, bass, acoustic and electric guitars as well as writing and arranging all the material. Vocally he reminded me at various times of Peter Gabriel, Fish, Nick D’Virgilio and the aforementioned PC. But it’s in the song writing department where he really shines providing an excellent collection of tunes to rival anything that I’ve heard all year. Quite possibly the album of 2009 for me.

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Pain Of Salvation - Linoleum [EP]
Pain Of Salvation - Linoleum
Country of Origin:Sweden
Format:CD
Record Label:InsideOut Music
Catalogue #:IOMCD323
Year of Release:2009
Time:29:33
Info:Pain Of Salvation
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Linoleum (4:54), Mortar Grind (5:50), If You Wait (2:49), Gone (7:54), Bonus Track B (2:27), Yellow Raven (5:39)

Pain Of Salvation rarely repeat themselves. A very commendable and healthy approach to music. The only time in their career, so far, that they did make a return visit to their past, Scarsick, which is supposed to be the follow-up to their Perfect Element Part 1, it resulted in one of their weakest albums to date.

So while working on the follow-up to Scarsick, a double album tentatively titled Road Salt, the band release this EP as a taster. Well, to start with the bad news up front: I do hope they decide to change their direction once again as quickly as possible, as the style of Linoleum is definitely not they direction I would like to see them go in. Basically this EP is an ode to seventies style of of Led Zeppelin and the likes. And while that should not have to be a bad thing, for some inexplicable reason Gildenlöw decided to make Linoleum sound as if it was recorded in the early seventies as well. The production is very flat, lacking any kind of depth or bass. A fellow DPRP-scribe suggested this may have something to do with the fact that the band doesn't seem to be able to hold on to any of their bass-players these days. Whatever the reason, the flat production is the main reason for me not liking this EP.

After the initial disappointment I must admit that I started warming up to the songs themselves. It took maybe two or three weeks, but then all of a sudden it clicked. The songs feature Gildenlöw's trademark great lyrics, and especially the title track definitely has a great melody. "Suddenly she is down on all four" - an excerpt of the chorus of Linoleum, and immediately you know Gildenlöw is not into floor coverings, but rather focuses on the subject of female exploitation, a topic touched earlier in Disco Queen off Scarsick.

Morter Grind also has a great melodic hook. If there hadn't been a short break between the track this could easily have been a continuation of the previous song. Both lyrically and musically.

If You Wait doesn't do it for me though, it sounds too much like late sixties psychadelica to these ears.

The longest track, Gone, is a bit of a mini epic. Starting with rather mellow verse/chorus structure and then building to a massive coda. Gone is probably my favourite song on this EP.

The only thing more irritating than the flat production is the two-and-a-half minute band chat Bonus Track B where you hear the band talk about the need for a bonus track on the EP. Fun to hear maybe once, but incredibly irritating having to hear it in between the two best tracks on the album, Gone and Yellow Raven. Which by the way makes me wonder, if Yellow Raven is a 'bonus track' or a proper track for this EP? Never mind, it is one of the better songs on the disc. Thank heavens for programmable playlists!

So in conclusion this seems more like a failed expirement rather than a taster for the next album. Let's hope the next album is closer to the likes of Remedy Lane or Be, rather than this EP. I'm looking forward to seeing the band live on their December tour, to hear what they make of these tunes in a live setting.

Dave Baird's Review

I had been pre-warned by Bart that Pain of Salvation had taken a turn of direction with their new CDEP, Linoleum. Despite that I must admit to being quite taken aback on my first listen finding the retro instrumentations, riffing and production almost horrifying! To be fair though, even second time around I'd already calmed down a bit and was able to start appreciating the music behind. A few listens more and I decided it was pretty good, although still a little unusual. In the meantime the new Tangent CD came onto my radar and I put Linoleum to one side for a couple of weeks before I had the chance to hear it again. Let's just say, what a difference two weeks can make, I was totally blown away this time and have been loving it ever since. I suspect a contributing factor to my more positive perception was listening on some bass-heavy earphones because through some flat sound sources the music could be playing from a tinny 1970's transistor radio.

With the exception of the opening title track the songs bear little resemblance to the last studio CD, Scarsick. Linoleum though has quite some similar hooks as Disco Queen, but no lyrical correspondences that I can hear. Grungy riffing guitars, heavy Hammond organ, distorted pianet and Daniel's typical vocal acrobatics dominate the piece, there's a lot in the drum department too, but it's losing out in the production. It's a real retro-70's feel which is pretty much the tone of the whole CD. Mortar Grind is one of the heavier PoS songs with has a suitably depressing lyrics and a stellar vocal performance. I'm avoiding trying to interpret the lyrics too much as they're not totally obvious and probably work on several levels. Suffice it to say that Daniel has stepped back from the overtly political messages he gave on Scarsick and is back in classic PoS territory - loss, anger and pain. Regardless of the deeper meaning the words are well chosen and poignant.

If You Wait is a little gem of a song running in at less than 3 minutes. Great melody, evocative words, superb vocals again, the piece just starts and keeps going to the end. After the assault of the first two tracks it's almost comes across as jolly, but rest assured it is not! Perhaps the best track is Gone and here I will stick my neck out that he's singing about his position as an artist/husband/friend having to satisfy everyone at once. the track has multiple section all with very different feelings. The heavy choruses in the first half of the song make me think of David Bowie circa Aladdin Sane in their tone and style - albeit far more horribly dark, sad, heavy and depressing. The second half of the song has a deliciously foreboding feel, really excellent keyboard work here, darkly ambient, you really feel this music. Play it in the dark, loud on headphones, it gives me the creeps!

We then have the silly Bonus Track B which is amusing to hear a couple of times, after which it's recommended to press skip and Yellow Raven finishes up the disc. Another super melody and some wonderful guitar work, a really beautiful song although another oblique lyric: "Yellow Raven, sipped the air", what's all that about then?

So after initial shock I have been really drawn into this CD. Despite the production, instrumentation and retro approach It's very definitely PoS, and PoS at their best. I"m really impressed with Daniel's singing throughout, he's pitching the right mix of aggression, theatrics and clean singing. Trying to form comparisons with previous work is difficult, but I would venture that it's closer to Remedy Lane than anything else they done, although very different at the same time. The change of direction is a smart move, but the reason for the production being so retro too isn't really clear, it does work though and gives the CD a real cohesive character that perhaps was missing from Scarsick. Apparently this EP is meant to be a taster for the next full CD, whether the production is just an experiment and Daniel will revert to a more convention sound remains to be seen, but it's bold move and a strong artistic statement that deserves some credit in my opinion.

My message would be to give this CD a chance, if you just listen one or twice you may be missing out. I've grown to love it very much in the last week and I'm really hungry to hear more.

Conclusions:

BART JAN VAN DER VORST : 6.5 out of 10
DAVE BAIRD : 8.5 out of 10



Toxic Smile - Overdue Visit [EP]
Toxic Smile - Overdue Visit [EP]
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2009
Time:23:08
Info:Toxic Smile
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Solitude Sphere (7:19), Insights (5:08), Peak Of Delight (6:19), Freezing Rain (4:12)

Toxic Smile must be wondering what they have done, or more to the point what they haven't done, to be so ignored by the progressive rock community. Since their formation in 1996 the band have released two studio albums, a live DVD and in 2006 the DVD (Toxic Extension Orchestra), which the band performed with a small orchestra. Their most recent offering, the aptly titled Overdue Visit EP also seems not to have captured any further interest. And that is a shame as the four tracks here certainly show a polished band with a good ear for melody. Now part of the problem could be that the band themselves class their music as melodic progressive metal, still a turn off for many a prog fan and certainly one that didn't initially attract me. Not that I am averse to prog metal, but in an extremely flooded market I tend to dabble carefully.

So what does this new EP have to offer?

Not wanting to start on a down beat, however the "tuning-in of the radio" that precedes each track is somewhat hackneyed and after two or three listenings - irritating. Now that's out the way we move into the track proper. The driving opening riff sets the tone and certainly gets the feet moving. A brief synth line heralds the vocals of Larry B, who possesses a strong and distinctive voice, but one I initially felt was at odds with the music, however the more I listened to this EP the better it sat with me. Solitude Sphere then features a great keyboard solo from Marek Arnold followed by an equally impressive solo Uwe Reinholz - bringing fellow German guitarist Thomas Blug to mind. A strong opening track with high and lows that maintain the interest throughout.

Insights shows are more delicate side to the band and brings Phil Collins (vocals) era Genesis to mind - aided by the melody line being followed by the guitar. The track seems to split in half for no apparent reason, but still it works well.

Peak Of Delight returns us to the grittier side of the band, although personally I would put Toxic Smile more towards the heavier end of the rock spectrum, rather than in the metal realms. Peak Of Delight is twisty piece and shows what this band are capable of. The rhythm section of Robert Brenner (bass) and Antonius Gruetzner (drums) certainly give great impetus to this track. Again another varied and interesting track, with perhaps the flavour of Canadian rockers Saga coming to mind.

The final song from this EP is a gentle melodic, piano led piece. Both vocalist Larry B and keyboard man Marek Arnold come into their own during Freezing Rain. An engaging ballad to conclude...

Difficult to see why there are so few reviews, (certainly in English), of this talented German band. Hopefully this EP will form part of a new album from Toxic Smile, although I really hope the drop the "radio tuning" links. Certainly on the evidence here, I shall be checking out the band in the future.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

BOB MULVEY



Breathing Space – Below The Radar
Breathing Space – Below The Radar
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:BS0901CD
Year of Release:2009
Time:51:05
Info:Breathing Space
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Below The Radar (4:12), Clear (4:29), Lantern For A Smile (6:44), The Night Takes You Home (4:32), Run From Yourself (6:42), Dusk (2:47), Behind Closed Doors (5:38), Drowning (6:26), Questioning Eyes (9:30)

Making a name for yourself can be tough enough in the world of prog but for a band that seemingly lives under the shadow of another it can be harder still. Such could easily be the fate of Breathing Space but fortunately they have just what it takes to succeed in their own right. Led by Olivia Sparnenn (lead vocals) and Iain Jennings (keyboards, backing vocals) both of whom have close ties with that other York based band Mostly Autumn, the line-up is completed by another (ex) MA member Liam Davison (lead and acoustic guitars), Paul Teasdale (bass guitars), Ben Jennings (keyboards) and Barry Cassells (drums). Below The Radar is the bands second album (or third if you count Iain Jennings' 2005 solo album which went under the title Breathing Space). This latest release is supposedly rockier than 2007’s Coming Up For Air but as that album passed me by I can’t testify to that claim.

The title song certainly sounds very mainstream rock with a meaty Black Sabbath style guitar riff with a commercial twist echoing Bryan AdamsSummer Of '69. It’s a very solid and convincing opener with Iain pounding out the rhythm on piano and a commanding vocal from Olivia. If I’d harboured any illusions that this was going to be a Mostly Autumn clone then even at this early stage they had quickly evaporated. Clear continues in a similar vein with its punchy guitar driven tone and memorable chorus. Lantern For A Smile changes the mood with acoustic guitar lending a folky ambiance not unlike Iona and the aforementioned Mostly Autumn. It’s a beautifully paced and judged song with Olivia’s smooth delivery perfectly pitched for the infectious melody. For me one of the standout tracks on the album.

The Night Takes You Home features superb pizzicato string effects although the prominent drum beat sounds a tad mechanical to my ears. Relaxed for the most part, it reaches a soaring vocal crescendo supported by Liam’s weighty guitars. Run From Yourself has a distinctly retro feel thanks to the blistering Hammond soling that evokes Atomic Rooster with Vincent Crane by way of Uriah Heep with Ken Hensley. Iain also adds his vocal weight to the chorus whilst guitar and synth combine for the compelling riff. By contrast Dusk is a tender piano ballad with Olivia at her most sensitive glossed with a sprinkling of strings courtesy of keys.

Behind Closed Doors is as near to pop as the band gets and is blessed with an incredibly infectious chorus performed by a double tracked Olivia. It’s no light weight affair however with a powerful guitar riff, staccato organ rhythm and even a Wakeman style fiery synth solo at the midway point. This is the kind of quality song that should be gracing the airwaves. Drowning begins in reflective mood with gentle piano and synth plus a heavenly vocal. It builds slowly into an anthemic chorus which thankfully resists straying into power ballad territory although there are hints of Fleetwood Mac. The near 10 minute Questioning Eyes is a suitably grandiose affair on which to close the album. It begins with mournful cello from guest Charlotte Scott and continues at a relaxed piano led pace with superb classical guitar contributions from Liam. The soaring guitar break is an inevitable inclusion and following a tranquil interlude with some cool bass work and rippling piano it climaxes with a blistering guitar driven finale.

Below The Radar is not the kind of album that takes any time or effort to get into. I found it instantly accessible and extremely likeable with superb melodies and hooks from the Sparnenn/Jennings writing partnership. Furthermore it displays enough proggy tendencies to keep genre aficionados satisfied whilst still sounding fresh and vital. Olivia’s performance is an added bonus stepping out of Heather Findlay’s shadow and assuming the role of lead singer with poise and confidence. An album that comes highly recommend to all regardless of personal tastes or preferences.

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Junk Farm - Didn't Come To Dance
Junk Farm - Didn't Come To Dance
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Unicorn Digital
Catalogue #:UNCR-5052
Year of Release:2009
Time:50:08
Info:Junk Farm
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Didn't Come To Dance (2:53), Still Not Dead (3:39), 10 Out Of 1 (4:42), Chickbag (3:38), Stalker (3:22), Lost By A Love Song (3:01), Where are We Going To (4:11), Eurovision Song-Incest (4:18), Music Police (4:44), Sweet And Sour (3:14), Take It Off (4:37), Talk To Yourself (4:42), Vacation Time (3:01)

Benjamin Schippritt and his merry accomplices in rambunctious funky prog metal continue their adventures with this latest release. As with Ugly Little Thing, the songs are mostly based on Schippritt's gritty, homely vocals and relentless funky riffing. Junk Farm has made no radical turns with this release, but they have clearly not yet peaked. Part of the magic in this CD is the very fluid style that Schippritt possesses, he has a talent for making guitar playing sound effortless and understated even when flashing cool, precise harmonic tricks that others struggle to achieve. Overall, his guitar style sounds like a blend of Ty Tabor and the late 'Dimebag' Darryl Abbott. (That means he's damn good, folks!)

Lyrically, the themes are mostly straightforward personal social commentary with a zany bent that matches up very well with the music. "Whats in the stupid chickbag", "What a pleasure to be so far away", "Take off your greasy mask" - these are lines that take a special kind of creative madness to make songs out of.

You can tell this is Schippritt's gig because, frankly, if keyboardist Berthold Fehmer were in charge, I don't think we would hear a song fade out during an organ solo as happens in track seven. Fehmer, though, has his hands full with bass parts, which he does well enough - sounding like the keyboard bass used in old Gino Vanelli material, or more recently in Flat 122. That's an economical strategy for a trio, and as was said about the latter band, they could benefit by adding a great bassist. But I can't hold a little thing like that against them - This group is quirky, talented and supremely entertaining.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

JEFFREY TERWILLIGER



Oceans Of Night – The Shadowheart Mirror
Oceans Of Night  – The Shadowheart Mirror
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:MMP CD 0669
Year of Release:2009
Time:47:19
Info:Oceans Of
Night
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: A Way From You (4:08), Living In The Past (8:26), New Machine (4:28), What's Left Of Me (6:35), The Shadowheart Mirror (6:34), The Last Goodbye (4:55), Two Worlds Apart (5:36), War Inside Myself (6:37)

You may have come across this combination before if you followed my advice and snapped up a copy of Deep Horizon the 2006 album from the unlikely-sounding Scott Mosher. Featuring musical mastermind Scott Mosher (guitars, bass, keyboards) and vocal powerhouse Scott Oliva, Oceans Of Night is the same project by a different name.

Under their own description of ‘ambient progressive rock’, The Shadowheart Mirror pretty much carries on from where Deep Horizon left off. In essence, this is an album of creative heavy rock/metal, which synthesizes progressive metal with modern rock, all served on a warm bed of ambient tones.

Four albums into his career and Scott has his project down to a fine art. A graphic designer in his ‘day’ job, the packaging is eye-catching. The production works well within the limitations of a self-financed operation. As before, repeat listens uncover a whole gamut of different guitar sounds, keyboard layers and ambient soundscapes, that make it a captivating listen. Again there's also plenty to find in the lyrics.

Well practiced from his time with the New York Iron Maiden tribute band, Live After Death, Scott Oliva again hits the vocals with full force giving the album a bit of Crown Of Thorns Savatage-era feel.

I’m not quite as enthusiastic about this album as I was with Deep Horizon, chiefly because the melodic lines from the vocals and instruments just don’t hit me with the same force second time around.

For those who have enjoyed Mr Mosher’s previous work, and especially the Inferno and Deep Horizon albums, this will provide plenty of listening pleasure. For anyone seeking a distinctly different take on ProgMetal then this (or its predecessor) are well worth tracking down.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

ANDY READ



Signs Of One - Innerlands
Signs Of One - Innerlands
Country of Origin:Canada
Format:CD
Record Label:Unicorn Digital
Catalogue #:UNCR 5047
Year of Release:2007
Time:70:37
Info:Signs Of One
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Reverie (1:28), Innerlight (3:27), Frantic Memories (2:30), Confusion (5:05), Wise Man (5:13), Rain Comes (4:12), Innerlands (6:45), Rainbow Elves (5:08), Hope (1:48), Legend Lives (7:48), I (6:12), Farewell Master (8:45), Us (8:30), Fate (3:46)

Innerlands is the second album of the Canadian band Signs Of One, and it is practically a concept album. Almost all songs are not musically separable, and the songs share an esoteric element when it comes to the lyrics. The story told is of an inner quest of a man who gets to read a mysterious book bought at the flea market. If I were to summarise all what's going on here in one word, that would be "ambitious". It's definitely good to be ambitious but sometimes when the thin line is crossed, ambition can turn against you, and that's something to keep in mind.

What we have is an offering that opts for complexity and theatricality. Complexity in time signatures and in fast switching between themes. Theatricality as introduced by Queen or, better, Queensryche in the 80's, characterising almost all vocal lines. Vocalist Dave Schram has the kind of voice that makes the listener comfortable here, uncomfortable there. A couple of pointers to give an idea are Enchant's Ted Leonard sometimes, and Stanley Whitaker of Happy The Man (see Wind Up Doll Day Wind, the only track with vocals in Crafty Hands). The music is definitely rich. Piano, keyboards, guitar parts, solos, pretty nice arrangements and a decent production, preparing the grounds for a nice result, but as we all know these elements do not guarantee the quality of the end product. And the problem here is that the themes go from overtly dramatic to super complex and at times aggressively so - straight down prog metal. Both ways though, the band overdoes it and the result is either too melodramatic or too complex for my taste, often with both extremes in the same song.

Title track Innerlands is probably the best example of exaggerated emotion and pathos. At the other extreme, Rain Comes brings to mind wanna-sound complex music of the 90's. An interesting song to combine both shortcomings is Remember; it starts sounding like it's taken out of Queensryche's The Warning, but ends a bit cheesy. I is a perfect example of good melodies drowned inside the band's effort to sound progressive. But there is variety and also more down to earth tracks. Without breaking grounds, Wise Man is good old prog rock, featuring solid guitar work from guitarist Steve Tremblay. More symphonic elements can be found here and there as well: issuing from the 70's as in the Van Der Graaf Generator-flavoured Hope, or from symphonic metal (for some obscure reason I remember Savatage) in Us.

Overall, Innerlands ambitiously tries to be at the same time atmospheric, technical and complex. It is trying very hard to be one uninterrupted piece of music. This is a really hard endeavour and very few have succeeded. This album manages to be united and concrete, but fails to flow nicely as it tends to get melodramatic, tiring and hardly digestible at times. Sometimes Occam's Razor should be applied to art as well as science. Maybe the band's next effort should be less ambitious, more down to earth and trying to exploit the large potential I see here, as these are good musicians with interesting and wide influences.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

CHRISTOS AMPATZIS



La Compagnie Des Arts - Detour
La Compagnie Des Arts - Detour
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Catalogue #:GW 3126
Year of Release:2009
Time:59:51
Info:Benoit Albert
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Trio'ze ~ 1. Vif (2:36), 2. Lent (5:01), 3. Libre (3:03), 4. Vif (3:25), Conduit N°1 (2:55), Sofia/Buenos-Aires (9:44), Conduit N°2 (2:39), Five Four Tango (8:40), Conduit N°3 (3:26), Ardhana Kâli ~ 10. La Fuite (3:42), 11. Conduit N°4 (4:18), 12. L'Ombre Du Doute (4:44), 13. Le Passage (1:09), 14. L'Energie (4:23)

La Compagnie Des Arts is quartet of musicians assembled by French classical guitarist Benoit Albert. Benoit has released four previous albums and has scheduled two for release in 2010. For Detour he has enlisted an ensemble consisting of Jérôme Simonpoli (hautbois et cor anglais - an instrument akin to an Oboe tuned a fifth lower), Christophe Geiller (violins) and Emmanuel Ferran (clarinets).

The music of La Compagnie Des Arts is complex, rhythmically diverse, absorbing, constantly intertwining and interweaving and perhaps best categorised as modern chamber music. And although over the years numerous progressive musicians have incorporated chamber style music into their pieces, La Compagnie are not from the progressive genre and therefore this offering reflects more their classical leanings. Detour does however incorporate a wider musical palette covering different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Again these are seamlessly moulded into the music.

Detour is best listened to in one sitting and forms a tranquil (at times) whilst still challenging backdrop to the day - ideal for late evening listening with a cup/glass of your favourite beverage.

Impossible to offer a numerical conclusion. Based upon its appeal across the broader spectrum of the progressive community - limited. To a small niche within that same spectrum - perhaps a greater appeal. Benoit Albert's MySpace (link above) features a Youtube edited clip offering a "medley" of tunes from Detour - so you can form your own opinion.

Conclusion: Unrated

BOB MULVEY




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