This is the most elaborate Phideaux album so far. This is the one where you completely realise that this a collective of musicians conducted in one man’s vision. The musicianship and the sound textures are stunning. So much to admire and after about 20 listens I was all ready to praise it…
…then I spent some time listening to Phideaux’s earlier albums Fiendish and 313. These are ‘just’ collections of songs rather than concept albums but are fresh and magnificent. They add something new to modern music by applying some of the uniquely quirky conerns of Prog onto a song structure. They could be recommended unreservedly to people who listened to Indie guitar bands.
Phideaux managed to hold onto me during The Great Leap because it still felt like a collection of songs. But even I can’t convince myself to ignore the Concept anymore. The problem for me is that so much of the musical and lyrical development is devoted to moving from one place to another instead of making the listeners blood course through their veins.
There are moments, such as the first part of the opening track Micro Deathstar that really hit the spot but it then wanders into a different area and loses me. Instead of a finally honed, emotion-tugging of something like Sick Of Me we get something that attempts to say much more but uses a large block of wood to do it instead of the sharp barb of a 4 minute song. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Doomsday Afternoon but then I grew up with Prog in the 70’s and still listen to Van Der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill. I just don’t see that it can appeal to anyone outside of its musical ghetto.
So if you yearn for long quasi-Symphonic pieces of music and the edifice of a serious story to follow then you will find this is one of the best you will ever hear. I suspect that you people will already know who you are and have a Prog section in your CD collection (and possibly your vinyl collection as well).
For me, I’ll wait for Phideaux’s solo acoustic album because I still need more of his voice and his songs.