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Triangle - Square The Circle  CD (album) cover

SQUARE THE CIRCLE

Triangle

 

Neo-Prog

4.14 | 49 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars You got to hand it to the dutch, they always seem to come through in the clutch! (my goodness, have I morphed even so slightly into a budding rapper? Never, screamed back the mellotronic choir!). It's pretty obvious that their prog musicians have continued to Focus without Ekseption or Trace, on finding the Solution! (How do you like that one, Erik?) . The recent crop has been splendid (Like Wendy, Nice Beaver, Trion, Mangrove, Ice, Ayreon, Odyssice, Knight Area, King Eider, Flamborough Head, Lady Lake and a few others.) , seemingly very adept at finding new ingredients to their highly musical formula (We don't bandy about an illustrious moniker like Dutch Masters without respect!). Triangle released this little debutante gem back in 2001 and it made some serious waves (all the way to Indonesia where our own Gatot emptied his soul in reviewing this album). It remains an intriguing album to this day, since it is quite correctly described as sitting between two chairs (a symph and a neo) with the rather angsty neo vocals of Martijn Paasschens causing all the alleged discomfort. Yeah, so he has a somewhat neurotic voice (so does Geddy Lee, Robert Plant, David Surkamp, Jon Anderson among many others.) but that seems to be quite common in the prog genre, so let's just suck it up, okay? The opening instrumental is a real tour de force, brightly introducing the musical savvy of the boys in the band, Martijn laying down some atmospheric keyboard symphonics, nimble piano and spiraling synthesizers leads obviously feuding with the highly adept lead guitarist Roland van Der Stoep, full of swirling reverb and effect-laden tones. As usually the case with the Hollander proggers, the rhythm section is groovy, precise and highly propellant. On "Chasing the Shadows" the vocals are appropriately emotive without any hysterics, chaperoning the themes very nicely with some delightful piano passages. It's with the whirlwind 11 minute epic "The Center Shines" that, even though the multiple interlocking themes shine splendidly, the vocals may seem a tad overbearing, most especially when he howls/ yells "I scream at the sound of my the alarm clock ", which has an almost crude new wave/punk/alternative tone that does really wake you up, to say the least! Even I sit up and scratch uncomfortably when I hear this passage. Tic-Toc, goes the clock, this is a song that has a psychotic/schizo element of unbalance that needs the slightly wild vocalizations! Sorry, but there is context! "The Saddest Show" is a scathing critique of television shows that prey on human frailty and the cynicism of judgment by mass appeal, another 10 minute + musical exploration, loaded with assorted effects and snippets of commentary, only to suddenly EXPLODE with vitriolic abandon in an experimental sound montage where instruments dance , merge and weld , helter-skelter. The gentle choir mellotron end-section is eerily striking, a deliberate slow burn, leading to another vibrant van der Stoep solo and some rumbling bass musings. "Amy" is an upbeat number that is more of a song than a musical piece but remains decidedly non commercial. I frankly find this somewhat bland and it's the only disposable track on this set. "Pygmalion" is listed at 13 minutes 11, it's also the longest. Loosely based on GB Shaw's literary masterpiece, this is another semi-paranoid musical excursion that stretches the boundaries of sanity and fantasy, featuring first a ripping guitar solo exuding all the pain of the universe and then a second, twirling in the gale of utter melancholia when the chorus kicks in. It slowly flickers, bathed in wispy effects until the flame just.. dies. Yep, good stuff! The finale is another 11 minute job, "Nature's Window", a somewhat more angelic piece with a spacier and brighter sound that searches out some more bombastic musical environments, again led by some gorgeous "search & destroy" guitar stylings, heavily molded in the Hackett/Rothery school. Roland van der Stoep is a revelation, lacing this track with tons of atmosphere, full of restraint at one moment and cutting loose with some unbridled power the next . The serene vocals here are quite enjoyable, with just the right amount of feeling. Simple, effective and loaded with emotion and this album's highlight. The bottom line remains that this is highly paced symphonic music that rushes nothing, builds momentum and culminates in a most pleasurable listen. Four corners for this Triangle.
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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