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RESONAXIS

Resonaxis

 

Crossover Prog

4.00 | 3 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars The relationship between artist and fan is perhaps one of the most interesting of human attributes, a virtual, perhaps even somewhat abstract, union of emotion and understanding. It starts often innocently enough, as the artist seeks out some invisible global audience by providing their craft and launching into the vast unknown, wishing for some resonating response. Well, I got hooked onto Resonaxis' sophomore album, thanks to an ear-opening review by a respected colleague at PA and a few buttons and a couple of weeks later, the irresistible "Hymnarium" arrives in my mailbox. I had already given it a few spins off the 'progstreaming' website and all I needed was a physical copy, as I only evaluate hardcopies. My glowingly gaga review is duly stated for the record and I did get an e-mail relationship going with lead vocalist Brooke Shelley in Australia. She has shown gratitude for my review (that showed gratitude for her art - a fair exchange) by sending me the Resonaxis debut album. Going backwards can be just as exhilarating a voyage as the standard 'debut to next' option and I was caught quite off guard by the sheer brilliance of this inauguration, mainly due to the fact that their pipe/church organ dominated "Hymnarium" was a definite progression from this, their first amazing foray.

So what are the inherent differences, you may ask? Well, there are quite a few instrumental innovations here, with liberal use of 'theorbo', a long necked lute that has a stellar sound, very medieval and delicate. In terms of church organ, David Drury is present, sharing keyboard duties with Brooke, he does sing stunningly on a couple of tracks and is overall less front and center within the songs' framework. In fact, this is Brooke's baby right from the get-go. The material is less bombastic and powerful as the keyboards also include a fair amount of elegant piano, while the guitar work from Michael Sheridan is quite aggressive as with the sophomore's Richard Hundy. Drums are deftly handled by Matt Roberts. The songs are quite alluring, showcasing Brooke's incredible voice, a tone and style not that far removed from the equally impressive Cathy Alexander, who has graced albums by the Morrigan, Colin Masson and Lands End.

"Pilgrim" shakes the foundations in a style very reminiscent of Hymnarium, a rash guitar dueling with the theorbo, until Brooke enters the scene wrapped within an intoxicating melody, intricate string work and epic keyboard colorations. The theme sticks to your brain as if honey coated for the purpose, grandiose and overpowering. The hypnotic "Salve Regina" introduces baroque strings with violins, violas and cellos into a drum programmed solemnity that sonically unifies the past and the future, Brooke's soprano howling with unabashed fervor. Once again, the originality of purpose and the beauty of the music leaves one breathless. The bucolic "Indigo" leaves the quasi-ascetic religious feel for a little folksy banquet of sound, a solemn voice that floats above the pastoral setting, where acoustic guitar promenades the Shelley piano. This is where the Alexander resemblance becomes quite clear, another terrific slice of choral genius. But it's with "Ascension" that the proverbial lid is blown right off, a magnum opus that features Drury's unexpectedly powerful voice in a glorifying duet with Shelley's, highly evocative of classic Dead Can Dance that "guide you up from the Mayan underworld". Buzzing guitar and bashing drums elevate the torment to nearly spellbinding heights. The female wailing in the background is knee-trembling! Has someone seen my jaw, per chance? "His Dance" keeps things simple yet intense, a brief intro with shimmering voice and ornate piano, until the rolling church organ summons the electric guitar to exit from the velvet curtains and take an e-bow. This is perhaps reminiscent of the shape of things to come, as it would fit easily into the "Hymnarium" set list. "Psalm" is the longest piece her clocking in at 6 minutes and some, and as the title with imply, the mood is definitely more solemn and monkish. This is a nearly an all Brooke Shelley performance on keys and vocals, with only Julie Kim helping out on bass. "Gravity is just an illusion" she cries out in solemn despair, the synths whirling amid Saturn's rings, her voice pleading with both God and Allah to settle our equilibrium. Deliberate and divine, the psalm seeks to heal the weary soul and provide some panacea. "Life's Contract" continues the aural love affair, Brooke Shelley's piano and voice leading the way, organ and choir in perfect unison, scouring the loftiest levels of the celestial dome. The guitar picking is justifiably elusive and complements the crushing beauty of it all perfectly. "Sleep" veers into a harder direction, I shudder to think that Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley is on the organ, a booming rock piece with grooving guitar, sonically modified voice and some anxious lust. The drums only complement the huge "Fly Away" chorus and when you have heavy lyrics like " Seduced by a faint scent of narcotic slumber, feeling myself slipping , try to stay awake , spinning down and down", you realize this ain't no fluffy pillow music. "Travelling Gifts" has the baroque instruments again placed at the very edge of the stage, glowing from a highly medieval feel that really stretches the folk parameters into quasi- experimental areas (the Dead Can Dance tints, who are also fellow Aussies!). Vibrant, profound and mesmerizing music. The recording features a final hurrah, an album version of their very first EP, an anthemic piece called "Videntes Stellam Magi" that just shocks the system, a crystalline voice that howls to the pipe organ- driven wind, blowing the spires off any church. Sheridan's quirky axe solo is a fiery exercise in controlled abandon. This song probably best defines the music of Resonaxis, a heady combination of Gothic vision, rock guitar, medieval inspiration and impeccable vocals.

Each and every melody clearly stamps the pleasure nodes with immediate effect, a sterling recording of amazing material, humbly arranged and brilliantly composed. Certainly an omen of things to come. Within a few weeks, I have become a huge fan of a duo of albums that have captivated my mind and my soul, in a style that has not been saturated with hundreds of imitators. Halfway across the planet, there is an Australian outfit that has stirred my being. Any fan of original prog and sustainable sonic beauty needs these two albums in their collection.

Amen!

5 centers of absolution

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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