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Twelfth Night - Fact And Fiction CD (album) cover


Twelfth Night



3.93 | 146 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Neo-prog for those who don't like neo-prog?

4.5 stars

Before MARILLION, IQ or PENDRAGON, there was a lesser-known, however maybe more creative band called TWELFTH NIGHT. Why? Because these musicians offered more than just GENESIS-influenced songs with the sound and the sharpness of the eighties. Instead, musically speaking, they embraced genres contemporary of the dawn of the 80's - punk and new-wave - and dressed them in the clothes of the space and symphonic progressive styles of the 70's.

First, these novel ideas form a genuine neo-progressive approach. Second, I don't know if this mixture of genres had been ever done before or reproduced after. This is very different from the other bands trying to bring something new to prog during the late seventies, such as RUSH or even SAGA, although considered as a major influence of the neo-prog. Third, this opus demonstrates TWELFTH NIGHT's ability to write long suites and shorter compositions. Finally, and most importantly, they crafted their own identity, supported by Andy Revell's trippy and delayed guitars, Clive Mitten's ethereal keyboards and, particularly, Geoff Mann's unique punky and theatrical singing. "Fact and Fiction" is unfortunately the band's only album with this great uncommon vocalist.

Before the arrival of Geoff Mann in 1981 and after the departure of Electra MacLeod, TWELFTH NIGHT were already a very original instrumental unit whose tracks can be described as a marriage between Steve Hillage or Manuel Göttsching's echo-drenched guitars, new-wave and fantasy. Compared to "Live at the Target", this 1982 studio record marks an evolution: the musicians slightly begin to incorporate more new-wave, but also GENESIS and PINK FLOYD elements here...

By hearing "We Are Sane", you can understand why I consider TWELFTH NIGHT more interesting than the other 'classic' neo-prog bands. This is simply maybe the first progressive new-wave / punk track ever! Alternating spacey, ethereal, touching and more nervous passages, this 10 minutes mini-epic contains numerous changing ambiances and rhythms. The interlacing of lighter and heavier passages allows Geoff Mann to display his wide palette of vocal expressions: aggressive, touching, depressive. Some neo-progressive elements can be comparable from what the genre will offer in the mid 80's, but only a few. One of the best compositions from the band! Brilliant! "Human Being" is a kind of a mixture between the instrumental approach of "Live at the Target" and GENESIS. It possesses a pretty and floating guitar, powerful bass-driven passage and... the song is really varied! What could possibly happen now? Space new-wave? You're absolutely right! "This City" is a nice and dreamy short track, with a mastered progression. The ambient "World Without End" is a pleasant smooth interlude.

In contrast, the title track is a more conventional but still enjoyable rocky new-wave. With Andy Revell's beautiful acoustic guitar play and its slight medieval feel, the instrumental "The Poet Sniffs A Flower" will transport you to a world of fantasy. The first half is calm and enchanting, while the the pace surprisingly accelerates at the middle of the song, which then become epic and powerful! Longest composition of the record, the 12 minutes "Creepshow" is the other mini- epic here. Featuring dark, tortured and even futuristic atmospheres, this suite has reminiscence of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, especially due to Geoff mann's singing which can remind Peter Hamill's at times. Not as impacting as "We Are Sane", but nonetheless very good. The disc concludes the new-wave-ish tune Love Song", a slow, delicate and melancholic piece with acoustic guitar and soft keyboards.

The 2002 Cyclops edition includes seven bonus tracks, more or less interesting. Andy Revell's guitar sounds quite metallic on the rageous "East of Eden". Nevertheless, the most surprising addition is the new-wave cover version of THE BEATLES' classic "Eleanor Rigby". Cool!

Unique and uncommon, "Fact and Fiction" is a musical anomaly, even more than "Live at the Target". However, this is finally much more what "neo-prog" should really be, with this quality and mixture of styles. TWELFTH NIGHT's first official studio opus is their best: original, disturbing, spacey and touching. The album to start with. For all these reasons, "Fact and Fiction" may well be my favorite disc from the neo-progressive genre, because this is, well, more creative than "just neo-prog"... That's why, even if you hate or partially appreciate (like me) the bands commonly affiliated with this denomination, please give it a listen! You'll enjoy it if you're a fan of symphonic, space rock, depressive new-wave or maybe even punk!

Although short, the Geoff Mann period was the most successful in the band's history. This will unfortunately be their last studio release with this incredible singer. After that, he will be replaced by Andy Sears, and TWELFTH NIGHT will propose more or less inspired synth-pop songs with discrete proggy elements, but not as original or impacting...

Modrigue | 4/5 |


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