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2011 : VOLUME 20
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Sean Filkins - War And Peace & Other Short Stories
Sean Filkins - War And Peace & Other Short Stories
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Festival Music
Catalogue #:CD201103
Year of Release:2011
Time:68:38
Info:Sean Filkins
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1:06), The English Eccentric (8:46), Prisoner Of Conscience Part 1 ~ The Soldier (19:21), Prisoner Of Conscience Part 2 ~ The Ordinary Man (11:02), Epitaph For A Mariner (20:50), Learn How To Learn (7:27)

John O'Boyle's Review

Sean Filkins debut solo album War And Peace & Other Short Stories which has been produced by Lee Abraham with some assistance from Sean is a fine and stunning release, a debut release of the highest order that is so memorable with its infectious feel, it will have you repeatedly playing the album, make no mistake over that. Sean’s past work with Big Big Train and Lee Abraham has been well documented and here we find Sean placing his first solo album into the arms of the world, a creation that speaks for itself.

Sean is quintessentially a very British artist with his approach, especially when he asks the question Are You Sitting Comfortably? The opening voyeuristic view into the world that has been created here, which sets the out his stalls, the making of a cuppa over the sound track of Jerusalem... how can this not be quintessentially British in its grounding.

Are You Sitting Comfortably? segues into the aptly titled The English Eccentric a masterful musical story telling journey,

“There’s a man in a cool orange T Shirt, but the yellow AirWare just don’t match his eyes, everybody says he’s trying, “very trying”, but he often sits and cries”

Sean has an uncanny ability to tell stories, whilst holding your attention, without letting you lose site of the complexity of the music. This is a unified relationship that has been well thought out, it’s never allowed to become twee, always hitting those thought provoking moments. The phrasings will ignite memories of events past, comments you can relate to, that will put a wry smile on your face. For me it’s the benchmark for perfect song writing, something that Sean has achieved here big time.

“Please don’t ask who I am, as for one I just don’t understand, this life so sacred, so fragile yet so cold, The changes taking place, so much deceit on, smiling faces, the silent witnesses watch, the innocence decay”

The lyrics that open Prisoner Of Conscience Part 1 ~ The Soldier a movement, a shocking indictment, a formal statement of a prosecuting and persecuting mind, a juxtaposition of the acts of right and wrong, questioning of its actions, self pity, trying to make semblance of the whole situation. Musically the whole song is supported by some very powerful and elegant musical passages, varying in styles and time changes, accentuation each emotion travelled, punctuated perfectly, passionate, sad and aggressive that questions the whole stupidity of the situation, a crescendo of guitar tones, differing rhythms and styles, swapping between acoustic and electric. The first part of the movement ends in a climaxing of guitar tones that send a shiver down your spine. This is how to really write epic songs. The first movement ends with the following verse, which sums up the whole piece.

“You can’t lose it, you know it happened, caught in the crossfire as the prophets have their day, The lies, deceit, reality, the patrons of hypocrisy, all slap each others back in time, for trusting their morality, a sardonic toast, to the victims of the funeral pyre, the costly toll of love and life, exchanged for blood and fire”

There is no respite form the Prisoner Of Conscience Part 1 ~ The Soldier as it segues straight into Prisoner Of Conscience Part 2 ~ The Ordinary Man. This may all be about looking at another form of being a prisoner of conscience, a thought provoking and intelligent view, which is not always obvious. Part 2 is more keyboard driven, with some useful vocal layering, fascinating harmonies which at times sound vaguely like Jon Anderson and musically some of the expression sound like they could have been lifted from The Who’s Tommy. Again Sean has chosen to be colourful with his musical expression although not as convoluted; colouring the mood and atmosphere of the whole song, with such expressionism, with the whole movement losing none of its powerful statement.

Just when you though it couldn’t get any better, the curve ball that is Epitaph For A Mariner opens with a choral, hymnal approach, a five piece suite, a heartfelt and emotional dalliance that musically pulls on the heart strings. I love the way the song structure has been perfectly balanced, a soundstage of grandeur, which really presses all the right buttons. This epitaph maybe a brief statement commemorating and epitomizing the passing of the sea faring heroes, but Sean Filkins vocal passages have you watching the souls of each individual, empathetically, sympathising with each and every individual, and their loved ones left behind, a sentiment that has been created with the deserved honour and respect. Again as the suit travels so does the whole mood of the music, reverential, respectful, created crescendo’s washing against the listener like the lapping waves of the seas, closing with a beautiful piano lament, mournful, sorrowful being full of strong regret.

Learn How To Learn has a stunning pastoral opening, which is underpinned by some eloquent acoustic guitar work. Sean’s vocal caress and comfort as he orates his story, without pomposity. The band builds some beautiful structures that have eastern sounding tones, something that was effectively used on Prisoner Of Conscience Part 1 ~ The Soldier too.

The artwork that has been created by Paul Tippett is interesting, artwork that calls to mind the approach that Mark Wilkinson, where the subject matter is concisely conveyed, although Tippett has chosen photography as his medium, being beautifully assembled.

Sean Filkins (vocals, guitars, ebow guitar, additional keyboards, percussion, blues harp, didgeridoo), has called in the assistance of Gary Chandler (guitar), Dave Meros (bass), John Mitchell (guitars) and Lee Abraham (bass, guitars and keyboards), Gerald Mulligan (drums), John Sammes (keyboards) and Darren Newitt (guitars), who have all contributed well and added their own sounds, providing the perfect soundboard for Sean’s talents, creating another very powerful album, that may just feature in my 2011 top ten list.

The concept of the album is not linear; Sean would probably deny that it is a concept album per se, something that I would agree with. The album pieces together, each song touching on the conscious of emotion, empathetically and intelligently, provoking thought, which has you questioning your own ethos; stunning stuff indeed.

Geoff Feakes' Review

When vocalist Sean Filkins left Big Big Train his future looked a little uncertain but just two years on comes one of the best debut solo albums I’ve heard in a very long time. The seeds for this release were sown when Filkins appeared on ex. Galahad Lee Abraham’s excellent Black And White album in 2009. Abraham returns the favour here by undertaking production and engineering duties as well as playing bass, rhythm guitar and keyboards. Filkins and Lee perform in prog tribute band The Indigo Pilots along with keyboardist John Sammes and drummer Gerald Mulligan who are both principal contributors here. They are joined by an impressive line-up of guest musicians which includes amongst many others Gary Chandler (Jadis), Dave Meros (Spock’s Beard), John Mitchell (It Bites) and Darren Newitt. The latter guitarist in particular, who is a new name to me, is a real revelation here.

The album opens with the short Are You Sitting Comfortably?, which is basically a recording of Sean making a cup of tea whilst a brass band plays Jerusalem on the radio in the background. It’s a rather unconventional and understated way of preparing the listener for the epic undertaking that follows but it does at least prove that he’s a man with a sense of humour.

Things begin proper with the hyperactive intro to The English Eccentric where powerful riffs and lively synth bring Neal Morse to mind. As it settles into the song proper it reveals a strong and compelling chorus punctuated by rapid fire drum bursts. Perhaps my favourite parts however are the elegant acoustic interludes that grace the midsection. Although Filkins doesn’t have a particularly powerful voice in the traditional sense, he makes the most of his light and airy tone with ex. Pallas front man Alan Reed being perhaps the most obvious comparison.

Prisoner Of Conscience Part 1 ~ The Soldier opens with more natural sounds (or unnatural if you prefer because this time it’s the chilling sounds of war). The music that initially follows is a surprise (and delight) where flute, sitar and tabla provide an authentic and exotic Indian flavour. Also, as the song develops its harder and visceral vocal sections are tempered by folky acoustic guitar and mandolin moments. There’s even a stylish flamenco guitar sequence following the second of the songs three climaxes. The first climax which appears around the halfway mark is a dramatic vocal hook preceded by symphonic keys which are interrupted by a barrage of raw guitar and fuzzed organ. Tubular bells and synth strings set the scene for the final climax headed by a blistering extended guitar solo courtesy of the aforementioned Darren Newitt.

The whole album is driven by an energetic fluidity and it makes complete sense that the near twenty minute The Soldier glides seamlessly into the eleven minute The Ordinary Man without a break. Lilting keyboard textures provide a stately elegance including a ‘trumpet’ solo courtesy of synth. Primarily keys driven, it gradually becomes edgier with the introduction of electric guitar but still makes room for a fine Rick Wakeman tinged synth solo. Then it’s the calm before the storm with a mellow piano and vocal interlude before a typical barn storming guitar solo from John Mitchell takes over. From this point on it’s a majestic, goose bump inducing finale in the same vein as GenesisAfterglow and Marillion’s Heart Of Lothian.

Epitaph For A Mariner opens appropriately and atmospherically with pipe organ and soprano voice performing the traditional Sailors Hymn (aka For Those In Peril On The Sea). The natural sounds of the sea and ambient keys ebb and flow, joined by a suitably ethereal chant for female voice. Making full use of its twenty minute plus duration the piece builds at a measured pace and its past the five minute mark before powerful but melodic guitar and synth heighten the tension. A staccato riff underpins a superb, extended synth solo which is given ample space to develop in true Tony Banks fashion. Perhaps the only disappointment here is the over busy drumming and sampled voice which jointly tends to overshadow the synth as it reaches its peak. It fades into a tranquil and engaging acoustic vocal section which gradually develops into a commanding choral hook and more soaring guitar work from Mitchell. As the song races towards another breathtaking finale, call and response synth and guitar interlock superbly before receding to leave solo piano to provide a haunting conclusion.

Picking up from where the previous track left off, Learn How To Learn is introduced by graceful piano, flute and vocal. It’s a lovely, heart warming song and a perfect respite for the pomp and drama that has gone before. A superb, ringing guitar solo (Newitt again) at the mid-section underlines the feel good factor. Sitar, flute and tabla return, providing both a link to the earlier song The Soldier as well as a dreamy, psychedelic ending to the album.

To call this impressive project a solo album is perhaps a tad misleading. In addition to Abraham and Threshold’s Karl Groom assisting with the production and recording, Sammes does likewise with the arrangements and compositions whilst the guests involved are too numerous to name check here. For all of that, this is undoubtedly the vision of one man and it’s worth noting that in addition to lead vocals Filkins also contributes acoustic and electric guitars, sitar, additional keyboards and percussion. It’s his vision that anchors the entire album, drawing upon personnel and observational experiences to add depth to this expansive but far from sprawling work. Even though Big Big Train has come on leaps and bounds in his absence I’m sure his ex. colleagues would be suitably impressed. Destined to become one of my top ten albums of 2011 I’m sure and a serious contender for the number one slot.

Conclusions:

JOHN O'BOYLE : 9 out of 10
GEOFF FEAKES : 9 out of 10



Evergrey – Glorious Collision
Evergrey – Glorious Collision
Country of Origin:Sweden
Format:CD
Record Label:SPV
Catalogue #:SPV308762
Year of Release:2011
Time:59:48
Info:Evergrey
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Leave It Behind Us (5:10), You (6.24), Wrong (5:14), Frozen (5:01), Restoring The Loss (4:47), To Fit The Mold (5:25), Out Of Reach (3:43), The Phantom Letters (5:32), The Disease (4:13), It Comes From Within (4:23), Free (3:46), I'm Drowning Alone (4:17), ...And The Distance (3:48)

I actually started my DPRP reviewing career by offering my thoughts on Recreation Day, the fourth album from the Swedish kings of morose metal. Eight years later and I’ve reviewed over 400 albums for this site including three more studio albums and one fantastic live effort from the Evergrey catalogue.

Evergrey is a band that has always avoided stagnation, subtly evolving its sound across a career now lasting almost 16 years. Time moves forever onwards, which gives me a chance to offer my thoughts on studio album number eight.

Despite having a lot of fans from the "progressive metal," genre, Evergrey has never really been that progressive. The creative drumming and keyboard-use on their classic In Search Of Truth was probably their most progressive and definitely their most acclaimed effort. Their last two releases, Monday Morning Apocalypse and Torn veered towards a more mainstream, heavy, melodic metal approach. Whilst both brought a lukewarm reaction from many fans, I’ve personally found plenty to enjoy from everything the band has released.

As the title suggests, Glorious Collision is an attempt by the band to combine bits of the old and bits of the not-so-old, to create something that sounds fresh whilst retaining the band’s signature elements of chugga riffing, splashes of keyboards, addictive melodies and that voice.

There has been a constant change of personnel across the eight albums but last year saw the biggest change. The loss of long-standing and popular guitarist Henrik Danhage, along with bassist, and drummer has left only Tom S Englund and keyboardist Rikard Zander from the Torn line-up. New guitarist Marcus Jidell retains the fluid solos but brings a more virtuoso approach to the table. Some of his solos are pure shred-fests. Bassist Johan Niemann doesn’t stand out too much for me whilst young drummer Hannes Van Dahl is little different to his predecessor.

On the plus side Englund’s voice is at its soulful, bluesy best. There’s a real weight, passion and depth to his delivery of some thoughtful lyrics which again deal with the darker sides of life.

The melodies across the album are huge. Three or four of the songs are among the best the band has ever written. In particular the three stage development of The Phantom Letters has a real epic feel to it.

As co-writer to most of the songs, there is little surprise that Rikard Zander’s keyboards enjoy more prominence than on the last two albums. The atmospheric piano lines, lush swathes of orchestration and the occasional synthesised rhythms add an important dimension to the Evergrey sound that has been missing of late.

Englund’s wife Carina again brings a different dimension to the band’s sound by filling out most of the choruses with some beautiful three-part harmonies. If you can find it, there is a bonus track on certain editions where she takes the lead vocals on the closing song instead of Tom.

On the down side, whilst there is a freshness to this album, some of the melodic lines and riffs suggest a danger of writing too much to a certain formula. The production isn’t great with a rather unpleasant sounding snare and overly-abundance of cymbal. The guitars at times can be muddy and indistinct. The production bar was set high with the likes of The Inner Circle where the different instruments were given room to be heard. This time the production doesn’t really give the great song writing the justice it deserves. 

Glorious Collision is not In Search Of Truth and doesn’t try to be. If you disliked Torn and crave a return to the earlier days, then this is well worth checking out. If Evergrey has never worked for you, then this is unlikely to change your mind.

However if you simply enjoy good song writing with heavy guitars, plenty of keyboards and brilliant vocals, then this is easily on a par with Recreation Day. And I think that’s where I came in…

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

ANDY READ



Effloresce – Shades Of Fate [EP]
Effloresce – Shades Of Fate [EP]
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:EP
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2010
Time:29:42
Info:Effloresce
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Birds Of Prey (11:17), Sear (9:58), Sunset In The Snowdome (8:27)

German heavy progressive metal band Effloresce bring us a first glance at their possibilities through Shades Of Fate, and EP that has been out for quite some time but yet never seems to have landed among the CD reviewing world. I came across the band more by accident when I found myself listening to a compilation release called Honor Thy Drummer. To my surprise I found a band I had not heard before and one with a great sound and the song was very cool. So I started looking Effloresce up, only to find they only had released one EP to date. I could not however find out anything about this music, no reviews or anything and this to me was very strange.

OK I know its true that you should never judge a book by the cover nor a band by hearing one song - but in this case it got me interested. I tried to get my hands on the EP and finally, you can guess it right, I had the EP in my CD player, and started listening. The completeness of the EP surprised me, with just 3 songs but almost half an hour's worth of music.

The five piece band consisting of: Nicki (vocals, growls, flute), Dave (guitar, mellotron), Tim (guitar), René (bass) and Tobi (drums), play a heavy style of progressive metal, learning towards the likes of Opeth, Dream Theater, and Fates Warning. Effloresce is female fronted, which makes them the odd one out in this type of heavy progressive metal which is normally dominated by male voices, especially when it comes to the growls Nicky comes up with every now and again in the songs.

Each song is filled with loads of riffs, changes in tempo and hooks, you name it, it is in there. Personally I wouldn’t mind Nicky leaving out the growls, as I do not think the songs need them really. My suggestion would be instead of a growl - let one of the guys in the band sing.

You have three reasonably long songs with a nice structure with plenty of room for the individual musician to show off. Lots of soloing and the singing in particular is excellent. Later in 2011 a new first full length album is due I understand. I truly hope they can continue the standard they have reached, and have further developed their own style, (without the growling ;0).

There is a lot to be gained here, they have surprised me but they can do much better I am sure. For now I can conclude in saying this debut is a solid one.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

GERT HULSHOF



Ole Lukkoye - Petroglyphs
Ole Lukkoye - Petroglyphs
Country of Origin:Russia
Format:CD
Record Label:Trail Records
Catalogue #:TR 008
Year of Release:2010
Time:79:35
Info:Ole Lukkoye
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Zapara (8:10), Ankara Karachi (5:36), Became A Sky (7:42), Children (5:48), Melting (7:54), White Stone (9:11), Zagoralos' (11:56), Sleepy Herbs (6:48), Horse tiger (7:30), Free Warrior (7:03)

Ole Lukkoye’s Petroglyphs is from what I can ascertain a compilation, a best of re-mastered from their previous albums, seven studio and two live, which also includes some previously unheard/unreleased tracks. This is a band that hails from St Petersburg Russia. This compilation album features the following artists Boris Bardash (programming, keyboards, voice, guitars and percussion), Andrey Lavrinenko (bass guitar, djambe and percussion), Frol (bassoon, snake flute, cow horn, trumpet, ocarina and dwarf's scream), Tatyana SWA Kalmykova (vocals), Georgy Starikov (electric & acoustic guitars {1, 2}), Petr Akimov (cello {1, 2}), Vladimir Konovalov (electro-double-bass {8, 10}), Oleg Shar (big djambe, darabouka, congas, vibraslap and percussion {3}), Yuri Lukyanchik (percussion, djambe and darabuka {10}), Igor Kaim (banjo {3}) and Ekaterina Sidorova (percussion {1}).

The sonic creations here all have a prog variation, which incorporates ethnic music from across the world, in particularly eastern, jungle, folk and electronic tribal sounds, which have been carefully interwoven with the bands space rock and psychedelic approach, which makes it all sound very calming and sonically relaxing, with the harmonies and vocal layering. It is all very captivating, enticing you back repeatedly for more listens, each time you do so you discover something new. This is music that steers clear of any commercial approach, intelligently developing its different soundscapes hypnotically, making it a real chill out album.

The standout tracks here for me are Zapara, White Stone, Zagoralos and Free Warrior, but in all honestly each track here has an individualistic approach, no repeating theme’s just quality frameworks of the highest order.

As can be seen from the personnel listing and the numbering musical instruments involved, you can guess that the music here is very colourful and textured which has been painstakingly produced by Faust’s Hans Joachim Irmler and what a sterling job he has done too.

Trail Records have performed a sterling job here making this ambient and relaxing music more readily available from a land that just seems to have an abundance of musical talent; musicians that aren’t afraid to follow their hearts, experimenting, fulfilling their ambitions giving birth to beautiful creations. Ole Lukkoye are definitely a band that needs to be explored further. Now turn the lights down, insert the disk press play, sit back and relax

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Miriodor – Avanti!
Miriodor – Avanti!
Country of Origin:Canada
Format:CD
Record Label:Cuneiform Records
Catalogue #:Rune 288
Year of Release:2009
Time:60:39
Info:Miriodor
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Envoutement :: Bewitchment (9:13), Bolide Debile :: Dare Devil (8:40), La Roche :: Meeting Point (9:12), Ecart-Type :: Standard Deviation (6:35), A Determiner :: To Be Determined (10:34), Avanti! (8:13), Reveille-Matin :: Shadow Of The Alarm Clock (7:54)

Hailing from Montreal, Miriodor are veterans of the Quebec ‘musique actuale’ scene, and leading purveyors of the Rock In Opposition (RIO) form, along with the likes of Present and Univers Zero. A long-standing presence, the band formed back in 1980, and have been releasing music on the Cuneiform label since 1988. The current quartet comprises founder Pascal Globensky (keyboards), long-standing members Bernard Falaise (guitar) and Remi LeClerc (drums), and newest recruit Nicolas Masino (bass), who joined for 2002’s Mekano.

Avanti! represents something of a departure for the band; whereas they are known for their relatively short songs, there’s nothing on this album shorter than six and a half minutes, and over nine minutes is the norm. Globensky describes the album as ‘sixty minutes of dense and twisted music’, with the focus on the core quintet playing with no outside influences and few overdubs. A few tracks do however have saxophone and trumpet players guesting.

‘Dense and twisting’ is certainly a good way of describing the album. Generally based around complex, tightly knit rhythms and shifting time changes, the songs switch from light, upbeat Canterbury-esque fare to dark, avant-garde music, dense with mechanistic noise and abstract keyboard and saxophone sounds. Influences range from Gentle Giant (check out for example the playful Meeting Point), through King Crimson (rhythmically the album owes a lot to the early eighties incarnation, whereas the shimmering build up of a song like To Be Determined recalls the epic Starless, and moments on Lark’s Tongue’s In Aspic), to the likes of Hatfield and The North and Van der Graaf Generator. But after about track two, it’s easier to say this sounds like Miriodor, as they do have a distinctive sound.

The musicianship is impressive throughout, as you’d expect from a band playing within this technically challenging genre. Particularly of note are keyboardist Globensky, with his wide range of synthesiser sounds and keen ear from an unusual but memorable melody, and guitarist Falaise, who fires off some wonderful fusion-esque licks, and also plays the likes of the banjo and mandolin to add texture to the songs. This shouldn’t underestimate the skills of the rhythm section, who steer this complex rhythmical beast with almost mechanical precision.

The slight difficulty I had with Avanti! was that, whilst I could admire the musicianship, and indeed enjoy individual elements of the music itself, I found the material itself, taken as a whole, left me a little cold at times. Perhaps this is due to in part to the length of the songs themselves, which as I stated before are longer than the band has gone in for in the past; the suspicion that a number of the tracks are composed of two or three disparate songs stitched together in sometimes rather unlikely ways is therefore present. I also found that things started to get repetitive after a while, with the same musical tics and tight rhythms popping up in different songs – whilst it does give the album a sense of unity, I did find my mind wandering on more than one occasion. Curiously I don’t have this problem when listening to, say, a CD by Magma, but here, I did find it an obstacle at times to fully embracing this album.

Ultimately, Avanti! is an impressive album on many levels, and looking at coverage across the web most others seem unanimous in their praise. Personally though I feel that it’s lacking in something that I can’t quite put my finger on, but that has stopped me wanting to particularly revisit the album on more than an occasional basis.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

TOM DE VAL



DaKryA – Crime Scene
DaKryA – Crime Scene
Country of Origin:Greece
Format:CD
Record Label:Sensory Records
Catalogue #:SR3055
Year of Release:2010
Time:40:38
Info:DaKryA
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: The Charlatans (4:32), Blind Man's Bluff (5:05), Scaremongering (4:35), The Urban Tribe (3:59), Camouflage (4:34), Phantasmagoria (4:51), Inertia (4:24), Dramatis Personae (6:07), A Dreadful Sidescene (2:27)

Before this CD landed in my CD player, I had never heard of the Greek outfit called DaKryA. I now know that the line-up of DaKryA has always undergone changes as only a few musicians shared the same vision to really create the sound and experience they call DaKryA. These musicians or "The Charlatans" as they are also know as are: Christina Kalantzi (vocals), Thomais Chatzigianni (vocals), Alex Drake (bass), SophiaX (keyboards), Angelos Charogiannis (guitars), George Droulias (guitars & vocals) and finally Stavros Vorissis (drums).

Crime Scene is their second full length album for this young Greek theatrical movement - I think that best describes what they are. People have a dreadful urge to put everything into little boxes where you must belong or blend in somewhere or else you are difficult to accept. DaKryA started as an idea back in 2004 to mix together theatrical attitude and various styles in music, resulting in the first full length album in the spring of 2008. The album was well received and had great reviews which brought on a tour to gain a wider audience. Coming now to 2010 a new album was created.

In the press release that came with the CD there is talk of a description for DaKryA as a "Freakshow". Well I wouldn’t quite call it that although I must say that at times the music is theatrical but also carnival-esque. So yeah you could say it’s a travelling musical freakshow. At nine tracks long, DaKryA try to get across what they feel is good theatrical music with an edge, and hooks to various musical styles.

  • The Charlatans: Immediately one finds oneself in a sort of carnival-esque world with the first notes of The Charlatans. Speeding guitar riffs, pounding drums, cabaret like vocals, even the circus tune “The Show Must Go On” comes passing by. Christina and Thomais take turns with the vocals every now and again George adds a male vocal. Sounds great but it doesn’t really give me goose bumps or anything.
     
  • Blind Man's Bluff: Again the drums, joined by bass produce a throbbing beat that drives the song forward, but there's nothing much that excites me. Combined vocals again and yes, very theatrical sounding like a new Nina Hagen. Musically I can’t find anything wrong here although this song doesn’t grab me, it is thoroughly enjoyable.
     
  • Scaremongering: I cannot help thinking and being left with a feeling that, "haven’t I heard this before?" with maybe slightly different notes. I really had a distinct feeling I heard the song before and this doesn’t mean I played the song more often than others.
     
  • The Urban Tribe: Again the mixture of heavy riffing guitars are combined with more mainstream jazzy/burlesque vocals. I do not want to repeat myself over and over so I will not write the same lines again, but things sound all too familiar. Although we do get some death "growling" here.
     
  • Camouflage: Now here is something that gives the song just that tiny bit extra, the addition of brass gives that extra hook the song needs. Because of this addition this is one of the better compositions on the album.
     
  • Phantasmagoria: is what the name implies a fantasy voyage through the theatrical world.
     
  • Inertia and Dramatis Personae: Again are songs of the more theatrical nature as is with the complete album. All of the songs are of a good compositional quality, but it tends to go into a direction that gives the feeling - here we go again. As a whole is does not grab me, although its likeable music, with good atmosphere something is missing but I am not sure what it is. Could be some more excitement or spunk? I don’t know, you need to figure that out yourself?
     
  • A Dreadful Sidescene: I almost forgot the last piece on the album which is a short instrumental ditty. It doesn’t honour the name because it is by far dreadful. Sophia X does her best to get some wacky sounds out of her keyboard and provides a nice ending to a reasonable album.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

GERT HULSHOF



Tempus Fugit – Shallow Water Blackout
Tempus Fugit – Shallow Water Blackout
Country of Origin:Canada
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2010
Time:50:50
Info:Tempus Fugit
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Dodgy (4:21), Presence (5:35), Shallow Water Blackout (5:59), Migrations (6:14), Soap Stains And Ashes (7:15), Just Another Day (4:12), Do You Know What I Mean? (3:48), New Path (3:00), Drownproofing (4:42), The Poetry Song (5:50)

A quick Google search shows the name Tempus Fugit to be well oversubscribed but this Canadian band have a good claim on it having originally formed as a covers trio in 1985. After recording the Beyond The Barrier demo the band split until 1997 releasing their debut album, ...When You’re Having Fun, in 1999. They split again between 2001 and 2007 before recording the songs that were to become Shallow Water Blackout.

(Apparently, a shallow water blackout is “a loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia towards the end of a breath-hold dive in water typically shallower than five metres, when the swimmer does not necessarily experience an urgent need to breathe and has no other obvious medical condition that might have caused it”. Thus says Wikipedia!)

The sound is pop/prog with Dodgy making for an energetic opener with warm vocals from Darrin Cappe. Many of the tracks are more reserved, Presence for example, the title track and Soap Stains And Ashes having a distinctly melancholy edge. The latter has a nice guitar mid-section from David Blatt, more of which would have increased the interest factor.

Migrations is a touch harder with a good intro but slightly wobbly here and there. It could certainly have been better and there follows a distinct drop of quality in the middle of the record; the delivery of Just Another Day is far too "bar band" and the groove of Do You Know What I Mean? just peters out disappointingly. The rocker New Path has been done better too often and the dropping of the ‘F’ bomb is self-conscious and out of kilter with the rest of the album.

Drownproofing improves the situation a little with a hint of Counting Crows but without that bands ability to truly wring emotion from the material and they save the best until last with The Poetry Song which, ironically, is instrumental.

The playing is competent but not sensational and overall the quality of the recording is lacking compared to what can be achieved in small studios these days. This is a shame as the material would benefit from a better production job, the drums particularly as they suffer from too much echo.

Overall, this is a pleasant album but nothing that will shake anyone’s world. There is not much prog here, the songs being straighter adult rock, and the performances and sound need to be sharpened up for next time. Some good moments but not essential and one to check out only if you have some spare time.

Conclusion: 5.5 out of 10

JEZ ROWDEN



Lerouge - Un Peu Plus De Noir
Lerouge - Un Peu Plus De Noir
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Catalogue #:GA8653
Year of Release:2010
Time:72:39
Info:Lerouge
Samples:N/A

Tracklist: Respire (6:33), Songe Agité (11:22), Trance Pores (3:48), Trance Pores (3:48), Lévitation (7:40), Après La Revolution (7:15), Sauvage Sophistiqué (2:52), Spiritualité Sans Dieu (8:00), Rien De Grave (3:30), Aube Éthylique (3:29), Piétinements Rageurs (4:52), L'Art De l'Oisiveté (6:59), Résurrection (6:15)

There seems to be an air of mystery about Lerouge, who from what I can gather is a) French, b) 50 ish and c) Un Peu Plus De Noir is his official debut album, but don’t quote me on that?

This is an album that is going to be more than challenging to most listeners as it features just over seventy two minutes of minimalistic musical interaction, which by all accounts has been created in the name of art.

So how does one review such recordings? At first glance, it’s not going to be easy. On second glance it’s not any easier.

Minimalist music was born in the 60’s where the idea of less is more? It normally covers Experimental music, Twelve tone music, Serialism and Process music.

What I hear you say? Ok let me break this down for you.

Experimental music being music that pushes against boundaries or definitions, non conforming. Twelve tone music or twelve tone technique is a method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg, a man that really divided musical opinions. Serialism is a method of composition too that uses a series of values to manipulate different musical elements. Process music is a method used to describe the complex compositional shapes of music using a successive array of signs like plus, minus and equals which indicate the transformation of sound, Karlheinz Stockhausen was an advocate of this and another musical genius that really divided opinions too.

Some of the most prominent minimalist composers are Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams. Just for reference Michael Nyman, a favourite of mine along with Reich and Glass, was the first guy to use the term minimal in relation to music. The above listed artists will hopefully give you idea of what realms of music you are in.

Now is that any clearer? Thought not! Let’s try this method!

Lerouge has chosen to create twelve individual musical soundscapes that evade the use of any real dominant melody as such. He has used repetition of tones and styles to create his sonic soundstages/landscapes, which at times can be very trance like, even tribal in approach; sonic sounds appear from varying points in the landscape, created samples. It would appear he has a fascination with the atmospherics of the darker end of the musical scale, we are talking textured and layered music that is disharmonic at times, offering different expression as it journey’s, we aren’t talking about your ears bleeding from a sonic assaults. The passages are at times are slow, hypnotic and moody as they provide the rhythms that undulate. The music is organic in its response but is synthetic in its construct. Lerouge has seen no difference in constructing this music using PC’s as opposed to synths, which really means that the only limitation to his creations as such, is the limitation of the software, which in all honesty has allowed him to create his own unique sound. It’s all about pushing boundaries.

So who is this album going to appeal to? Fans of the named artists above, maybe... the inquisitive, maybe... One thing that is for sure is that the average music listener certainly needs to look the other way.

Conclusion: Not Rated

JOHN O'BOYLE


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