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Deus Ex Machina - De Republica CD (album) cover

DE REPUBLICA

Deus Ex Machina

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.93 | 55 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My father will drive 45 minutes to attend a Latin mass rather than go to the church around the corner. Why? Because the aesthetic experience of the mass is so important- why do you think they use all that incense and stained glass? To separate the transcendant experience as much as possible from the outside world- to delineate the sacred and the profane. DEUS EX MACHINA knows this- Latin lyrics are just one element in their palette used to provide a transformative journey out of the normal world...but only for the faithful. If you believe in "De Republica", it will reward you with a musical experience like no other. The instruments and musical elements are familiar, but everything is put to unusual uses to create an exotic texture. You will try to grasp at the things you know- the violin which begins "Republica II" seems just about to resolve into a distinct melody when the band kicks in with something completely different than anything you could have expected. The rocking jam in the middle is one of several parts of the album that seem almost ZAPPA-esque, but Frank never sang like this- to me, Alberto Piras sounds a little like Bjork, if she was an italian man with the hubris to sing in a dead language. The tightly synchronized heavy guitar sections of "Macte Aequitatem" and "De Oraculis Novis II" remind me very keenly of similar passages on MR. BUNGLE's first album (which in turn reminded me frequently of Zappa). It seems incredible that the musicians could have learned these songs so perfectly; the meter and modes fly fast and contrary to most musical standards, like samples from MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA or KING CRIMSON sped up and randomized. Indeed, there's certainly a bit of KC in "Dittatura Della Mediocrita" and especially "Foederis Aequas Dicamus Leges", which is possibly the most accessible of the songs on the album. It is then followed by the least: "Aeterna Lex", the misfit even in this collection of oddballs, where the vocal madness and processing brings Gibby Haynes to mind (the demented genius lead singer of the BUTTHOLE SURFERS). "Perpetua Lux I", in contrast, is actually pretty in a STEREOLAB/ KRONOS QUARTET sort of way, and Part II acually rocks like a 70s anthem (and/ or 70s fusion a la McLaughlin), as does much of "De Oraculis Novis" - except for the third section, which is a sort of chamber-music jam! "Dittatura Della Mediocrita" sometimes follows this structure, but just as often dives into a moody break with very little warning. I really can't criticize the players- all of whom are impossibly disciplined- or the production, which is clear and detailed. The strings (what, you mean that's just one guy?) are a highlight, and the guitar playing is often full of meltdown precision. The rhythm section is astoundingly tight, but the keyboards only work for me about half the time; the synth sounds and lead lines sometimes bug me, but it is difficult to say that they don't fit when I can't be sure how everything is supposed to fit. It may sound like chaos at first but it spurs a nagging desire to understand the inner logic that keeps me following it from start to finish- over and over again. It's not going to instantly appeal to a lot of people, and the hardcore jazz/ prog/ fusion folks still have the extremely unconventional vocals to deal with. Do I like "De Republica"? I don't know for sure. But I keep going back again to see if I really do, and that's a lot more than I can say for most albums. For amazing musical craft, two stars. Another star for being so unique and adventurous. That leaves me agonizing over the fourth...I just can't do it. In a week, or a year, I may change my view, because I think this one will be with me for some time.

added 8/8/04: I must add a star after further listens. The energy on this album is outstanding, and the vocals are better than I originally gave them credit for. This keeps getting better every time I listen, so even if the music doesn't grab you immediately, keep it around- sooner or later you'll start to feel it. Highly recommended!

James Lee | 4/5 |

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