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Shining - Grindstone CD (album) cover





4.10 | 61 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Layers, so many layers.

I had the pleasure to add Shining to Prog Archives and in the process I got to know the band and its history better. The band also helped with the addition, sending me information needed for it, and for that I thank them (not to mention my enthusiasm with their music). This album belongs to the band's "second period" where they stray away from their "first period" where they released two albums and played acoustic jazz with improvisation and with a hardcore feel due to the recording manner. As they felt they no longer want to play within the constraints they set upon themselves, they moved on to their next stage in which Grindstone belongs. (Read the bio in their page to know more, and use the links there to visit their website and Myspace and listen to their music).

This is the story of a certain person listening for the first time to Shining and he chose Grindstone to begin with: "It starts with a bang.

I was struck straight in my brain auditory center.

Dazed, my brain recuperated, still dizzy and shaking from the wall of sound, unable to discern the notes apart, as they came on ceaselessly, mercilessly, attacking and charging over and over.

I then re-assembled my listening sense, told it to be courageous, raise its shields and try and absorb the audio assault.

Now, when I was all prepared and knowing my enemy I started again. And low and behold, the experience was amazing! With more and more listens, I came to realize the beauty behind the beast; the delicacy behind the "savagery"; the sophistication of the arrangements, the instrumentation, and the compositions all of which are built into layers. Their quirkiness and oddity and the beauty of those."

Well I am over-dramatizing it, obviously, as I got into their music from first listen actually, but it is true that their music is a sort of "attack" on your senses and if unprepared or unaware, a track like "Winterrise" might repel you or simply stun you.

Variety, aggressiveness and quirkiness - The album's nature is one of very high energy and even aggressiveness. While there are some intervals to breath somewhere in the middle (track 5 for instance "Moonchild Mindgames"), it is most of the time relentless. It is also "weird" or experimental as I prefer to see it. They opt for trying to create new sounds, new ways of creating melodies. They sure not like to conform and play it safe. Their varied sounds, are not made up of taking others music or style and re-hash it, but rather take from several sources to blend it, "bake" it, add their own ingredients and prepare a "musical cake" of their own. They can be weird like in "1:4:9" and yet this is to me at least (and I realize I am into these kind of things) a well thought-out experiment in constructing a melody from ingredients and an approach which would usually not be used to do so. This track is a dark passage into the final installment in this album, "Fight Dusk With Dawn".

Layers - Shining's music is built layers upon layers. At first it might seem like some cacophony, but you must concentrate and focus on it, identifying the main thread of the music, follow it and then will hear the other layers which can confuse and give the illusion or the appearance of chaos (maybe controlled chaos would be a good description). Take the two first tracks, where there are many instruments involved; improvised ones along with the usual rock instruments with their hard and rough edge and then others like the flute bringing in a softer side and then keyboards adding a majestic sound to top all of it. While listening, try to follow each instrument, one at a time (obviously you'll need repeated listens) and see if you get what I mean.

Instrumentation - What is great with Shining, apart from the sound that captures you in the middle of a ring of sound, is the instrumentation. I hear so many different sounding instruments there; some sound like some improvised Their cleverness is to me, expressed in the way the build their layers using their various instruments, combining subtlety with aggressiveness (for instance the flute vs. the bass and guitar in the first track); in the fact that they build their music however they like without confining themselves to one confined style or genre. In their music they mix their experimentalism with rock, electronics, jazz, metal but I can't say that I heard anything quite like this. Not only they have their own particular sound(s), they have a varied one at that, not restricted to one path.

Melody - Now, you'd think that with all this that I talked about, there is no music actually being played, only gimmicks. Well, that is not the case at all. Take the first track, which is named like their previous album "In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster"; it has a very melodic line, a fantastic and catchy musical phrase. "Psalm" has a beautiful female vocals backed by backing vocals, along with the guitar and keyboards which start playing quietly behind, increasing in volume slowly, then suddenly all gives way to some experimentation with the sound, and then comes back at full volume of all participants - vocals and band, giving a captivating melodic line. The combination of the female powerful chanting vocals and the guitar riffs, the contrast of roughness and delicacy is a characteristic of their music I admire. They can also be quite amusing or entertaining, like in the two short tracks "The Red Room" with some jazz put in there and "Asa Nisi Masa" with its voice alteration.

Final words - While I don't find all of the songs being of the same entertaining factor or of equal level, the end result is that I've been through a musical experience like which I am not experiencing frequently. And this is one of the things I am looking for when listening to music.

This is highly recommended if you're looking for a special experience, a non-ordinary form of progressive music, an original take on creating sounds and melodies. Give this proper several listens before judging, though. Play it at times when you're feeling adventurous and ready to be bombarded, caressed and intrigued.

avestin | 4/5 |


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