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Discus - 1st CD (album) cover

1ST

Discus

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.76 | 23 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

fuxi
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Not 'avant-garde' at all, but top drawer SYMPHONIC prog.

It took me a while to find this album, as it wasn't available through the usual channels, but to my relief it could be ordered simply and safely via the website of the company which released it in Europe (Mellow Records). It wasn't exactly cheap, but it is worth every penny!

Like several others who reviewed "1st" before me, I simply had to buy this album because I'd been so deeply impressed by Discus' second effort, TOT LICHT. There's hardly a trace here of the exhilerating epics which caused me to dub Discus one of the foremost prog bands of the new millenium, but don't worry, there's so much adventurous music I still find these players far superior to the likes of The Flower Kings or Porcupine Tree.

Right from the start Discus had a beguiling female lead vocalist in Nonnie, but on 1st she wasn't given the chance to scale the heights she would later reach on TOT LICHT. Here, she's given mainly conventional pop tunes to sing (usually sharing lead vocals with band leader Iwan Hassan), but every single one of those tunes is saved from mediocrity by superb instrumental solos (on electric guitar, keyboards, wind instruments or violin) by the various members of the band.

The album's true glories, however, lie in the (predominantly) instrumental suites which open and close it, and in 'Condissonance', a very lovely trio for violin, bass clarinet and 21 string harp guitar. The endlessly inventive suites will occasionally remind you of mid-1970s Zappa, Yes or Jethro Tull, of National Health, Return to Forever or Patrick Moraz' STORY OF I. They contain a similarly weird mixture of hard-rock riffing, lyrical sax/flute solos, sudden tempo changes, western classical influences and crazy jazz-rock, which is why there's really one label for this music, in my view: Symphonic Prog!

It is to their advantage that Discus are obviously inspired by the golden age of Prog without sounding derivative - which again distinguishes them from the likes of the Flower Kings. Their music is also considerably enriched by Indonesian influences. (Balinese percussion, gamelan-like synths, borrowed folk melodies etc.) I hope we'll be hearing much, much more from them in the future.

fuxi | 4/5 |

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