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Phideaux - Doomsday Afternoon CD (album) cover

DOOMSDAY AFTERNOON

Phideaux

 

Crossover Prog

4.25 | 725 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars I was late getting on the Phideaux bandwagon phenomenon, somehow never getting around to sampling some of his much vaunted material. The comments from the prog community certainly dispensed a fair amount of reverence and awe which I was itching to get to taste, the Phideaux myspace site exciting even more my sensibilities by the avowed comment from the artist that Roxy Music is a major influence in his songwriting , adding even more flavor to the Floydian aroma of his musical style. Well "Doomsday Afternoon" certainly has all the goods to make this a stellar addition to any collection. In fact, this is some of the best US prog ever with some passionate inspiration, clever spinning and weaving melodies tugged along by some splendid orchestrations, as expressed by the majestic opener "micro softdeathstar", a whopping 11 minute epic that emphatically states from the outset that this is serious stuff indeed. The focus here is on the overall package, so there is little soloing "chopzilla", as Phideaux concentrates on delivering multiple subtleties both lyrically and musically, the voice displaying the romantic slant of a Bryan Ferry /David Bowie though completely different in tone and delivery . "the doctrine of eternal ice pt 1" is a rollicking organ blitzed piece full of trumpet-led symphonics that clearly show the sheer progressive veneer, delicately ornate piano adding a little class and grandeur. "candybrain" continues in a more pastoral vein, with insinuations of folkier acoustics and a very English feel, sublime vocals combine with the simple flute/oboe/guitar arrangement, coming close to the Strawbs territory. The brief "crumble" is drenched in some serious psychedelic melancholia, dreamy piano and wailing background voices evoking some distant reflection in time and of space. Breathtaking stuff, really, I am so impressed upon first listen! Part 2 of "the doctrine." stretches out even more exponentially for over 8 minutes , female vocals seducing the rhythm while increasing the fervor, suave synthesizers smiling, drums keeping time and Phideaux' nasal vocal wailing unashamed. As delicious a ride as it has been up to this point in the record, the core moment here is the fabulously moody "thank you for the evil", a scintillating 9 minute groove piece that flutters along bold and cocky, a simple beat with loads of synth variations, heavy Manzanera/Eno persuasions and some incredible angst-laden lead vocals, all set to a clearly Floydian sonic expanse. This is prog heaven, a melodic yet dark journey into a comfort zone where the mood reigns supreme. "a wasteland of memories" is a short ditty that reflects orchestral colorations over plaintive male and female vocals, violins ablaze. "crumble" returns again for another visit , led by that magical piano before diving into another two masterstrokes , the stunning "formaldehyde" and the closing epic variation on the opener , "microdeath softstar" ,exhibiting a rather truculent sense of humor and detail that cannot go unnoticed. The former track features the talented Martin Orford of IQ fame on synths, a brooding pastoral flute intro gently guides the arrangement , giving politely way to another superb violin solo courtesy of Matthew Parmenter of Discipline fame and an outright proto-Brit prog-folk female vocal theme that exudes charm and substance, as the melodies are robust and memorable. The soloing rages on in a familiar Tull/Mostly Autumn mould that elevates the spiraling crescendo also tosses in a few quirky vocal twists, playful outro not withstanding. The massive 14 minute plus extravaganza lets the curtain fall with unflinching genius and creativity, as a slow, gloomy synth wash sweeps across the horizon, a dashing Hammond B3 suddenly jumping into the fray as drums, bass and orchestrations kick in ceremoniously to join in the mayhem. At times and especially here, Phideaux' vocals have an almost David Cousins-like nasal twang that is most impressive, in fact easily drawing comparisons with the fabulous British artist Guy Manning or as our finnforest so succintly and correctly identifies, Al Stewart. The piece throws in some deft soloing, as rhythm guitars riff solidly, the synths firing on all cylinders, the drums rifling neatly and the singing falling into almost The Cure-like tonalities. The Phideaux recipe obviously contains such a wide variety of influences , from some of the more creative and luminary artists of the past, cooking up a personal brew that combines psychedelia, space, folk, alternative, art- rock, gothic and groove that cannot be dismissed as pastiche, as the spirit of the artist remains very pristine and clear. I have rarely been so impressed by a recording, a definite winner that screams out for even more recognition. I guess I need to delve into his past catalog as the man is prolific. 5 chupacabras
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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