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Diagonal - The Second Mechanism CD (album) cover

THE SECOND MECHANISM

Diagonal

 

Eclectic Prog

3.90 | 133 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars British band Diagonal released a very impressive self-titled debut back in 2008, with the seven member band of young musicians playing a mix of retro styled prog with a modern, heavy and youthful indie-rock energy. Sax, clarinet, flute and recorder weaved around pounding piano and eerie electronics to suggest a Van der Graaf Generator influence, although admittedly the album was somewhat let down in parts by rather flat vocals. Still, the album was strong enough to gain the group a strong `word of mouth' buzz that suggested they were one to watch, although the band would sadly lose just a bit of momentum by taking four years to record the follow up, but hot-damn, was the wait ever worth it! 2012's `The Second Mechanism' sees the band tearing through five lengthy and eclectic instrumentals (although the one track to feature vocals this time is an improvement on the debut), full of aggressive playing, delirious yet seamless constant changes in direction and a noisy daring unpredictability. Imagine a mix of Anekdoten, the Mars Volta, Van der Graaf Generator, Anglagard and King Crimson with a touch of Post Rock, and you're a little closer to what the band take even further.

Throughout opener `Voyage/Paralysis', eerie twitching electronics are torn apart by pounding call-to-arms drums, vibrating mud-thick pulsing bass and serrated electric guitar ringing. In just over six minutes, the band also dart through deranged spiralling synth freak-outs, angular jazzy diversions and dirty sax droning - phew, got all that?! `These Yellow Sands' adds a pinch of Post Rock build and is unsurprisingly (with that title) lightly flecked with stormy eastern vibes, adding chiming guitar mystery, crystalline electric piano sparkles, relentless drumming and ghostly sighing low-key cries, and sax that moves from dusty wafts to honking blasts, stormy rumbles and manic up-tempo bursts bring back that Van der Graaf Generator flavour of the first album. `Mitochondria' floats through wandering melancholic bass over spectral piano and lonely horns before picking up in-tempo and furiously bouncing through a thunderous manic rumble of jagged stop-start guitar spasms, drum battery and haunting maddening sax - plenty of power and tension in this one!

The second side's `Hulks' introduces a sparingly used doomed weary regal vocal that, alongside murky bass, droning distortion, rising/falling electronics and constant cutting sax/guitar slices twisting in unison, helps capture that despondent mood similar to bands like Anglagard and White Willow at their most drizzly, and there's plenty of dark unease bubbling under the surface. Slowly unfolding ambient synth washes coat `Capsizing's background (and is that a touch of the Mellotron buried in there too?), but the piece rapidly grows in restless momentum and has the band all delivering break-neck soloing, the highlight being some fuzzy bass vibrations, infectious sax runs with stirring clarinet and noisy jazzy breakdowns that are deliciously darkly grooving. It's a little more upbeat than the previous tracks, so ends the album on a somewhat warmer note.

Sadly since its release, the band seem to have gone rather quiet (worryingly their website has vanished and their Facebook page hasn't been updated in almost two years), which might suggest the group may have finally folded, but let's hope it's just the calm before the storm of their next release. There is too much exciting potential, completely evident talent and top-notch playing on display here, and if anything, `The Second Mechanism' sets an indie-prog, vintage-meets-modern standard that more bands and listeners should have been paying attention to. Completing surpassing the already great debut, it's a cruelly ignored disc that deserves a new lease of life and rediscovery, no matter how belated.

Five stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |

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