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Inquire - Melancholia CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.92 | 40 ratings

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4 stars Inquire seems to fall into that hideous grey area that befuddles many fans, the proverbial "Love or Hate it" category and this emanates from the lack of any comprehensive ratings on our PA site and even elsewhere. So what gives? At first glance, there is nothing extraordinarily boring on one hand or avant-garde on the other to justify such a lack of response, being rather pretty straight forward symphonic rock led by a sizzlingly linear guitarist (Dieter Cromen) who has a "bleeding" phrasing and style that is highly suggestive and even original, while colorful keyboardist Robert Köhler and deft drummer Thomas Kohls round out the classic lineup. The previous album, "The Neck Pillow" wasted no time in setting down the parameters of their craft and "Melancholia" is a tectonic upgrade, an ultramodern, even at times uncanny, collage of moods and atmospheres that confuse, collide and coalesce well together, over a span of 2 CDs and an hour and a half of startlingly vibrant progressive rock. The first album, clocking in at a massive 76 minutes, conveys in musical terms the insensibilities of "La Nausée", Jean-Paul Sartre's epic dissertation on the human condition with a series of tracks that combine brief yet spooky narration (French with a German accent!) and sensational symphonic bursts that sear, churn, mortify and assault the senses. "Bienvenue à Bouville", a short accordion-led French theme that explodes into a torrential mellotron wave, slashed by an inflammatory lead guitar that slowly weaves the mood, synthesized e-piano, "tic-toc" drumming and a reverberating bass conductor. When the turbo charge is flicked, the piece goes into sonic overdrive, verging on Hawkwindian space, brutally propulsed into the void. Cromen tortures his incandescent axe with various Hendrixian caresses, searching out faraway musical territories, loads of shifting speeds and moods, this is a drop dead dazzling opener! "Nausea" resumes the creative insanity with Cromen doing a little guitar bicycling à la Fripp, some detached vocals adding spook and frenzy, while dissonance meets dysfunction. The hysterical guitar romp flashes through the schizophrenic ambiance, echoing snippets of paranoid female vocals, followed by a fluid guitar solo that "out-gilmours" David Gilmour, a bluesy and frenetic promenade that manages to convey the title quite convincingly! "Anny pt1" is a short fret interval, with disjointed female narration, setting the stage for the next mind blowing marathon , the succulent "Der Autodidakt" , nearly 10 minutes of primo symphonic prog as an ornate piano weaves tight melancholia, the buzzing guitar steaming merciless ahead, very Germanic , quite direct, with hints of classical inspiration, a smidgen of jazzy cool (that conniving piano again), a surprising synthesizer solo fuses overhead while the axe grates below, a echoing and disjointed voice lists the names of philosophers and scientists (Plato, Einstein, Schopenhauer, Voltaire, etc..). A dictatorial Hammond organ rages nearby with passionate glee, jostling with the piano for center stage, while the spotlight shines on a gentle guitar reading that blooms into a revisit of the earlier lead guitar theme for another roundabout and some more vocal weirdness. Wow! "The End of a Sunday" is another lengthy affair, with a slightly more playful envelope (a proggier version of Meatloaf?), presenting some circus-like clowning around (vocal effects and bar room piano noodlings), when all of a sudden both whistling synthesizers and wooshing guitars decide to take over and enter the cacophony. This is no commercial fare, but rather heavily perturbing, uncompromising and overtly creative modern rock music. A rampant Cromen flight takes all the jangling pretense into an oddly neurotic zone. This is a tough listen, severely eerie as if Syd Barrett was winking from above. "Anny pt2" relies on some peculiar piano touches, as the orchestrations reveal even more nostalgia, a solitary synth blast (very "Lucky Man") illuminating the spectral proceedings. "The Museum" is a protracted 13 minute masterpiece with classical orchestrations hastily introducing that typical Cromen sidewinder guitar flurry, drilling pitilessly into the night, shifting the mood constantly from quiet muted introspection to brutally enraged reality. Halfway through, the chaotic atmosphere evolves into a maze of angry rants, bizarre noises, strange riffs, oozy notes and honking organ jostling with notorious guitar buzzes. The final 2 minutes tumble into outright psychedelia, choir mellotrons toying with the insistent guitar phrasing. "The Chestnut Tree" is a nightmarish fiasco of disassembled harmonies, disconnected thematics and obtuse playing that instantly transposes itself into a goose-stepping musical parade, as the bass pounds remorselessly, the fret slithers in and out of focus, a feral effect-drenched solo lighting the theme asunder and an unruly organ as likely companion. Ding Dong! "Anny pt3" is the third and final intermezzo, more collated sonic effects and oddball fragments. The massive title track initiates the final curtain call and remains the key showpiece, a resoundingly psychotic architecture of sound and substance that coalesces into a deep symphonic adventure, dropping boom boom-bass and boom boom drums all over the guitar infested groove, occasionally diverted by some beautiful piano formations, train clicks rolling along as the somber clouds slowly move into Bouville. Prog is certainly a venture into the unknown. The second CD is a different kettle of experimental fish, inspired by a modern symphony written by French composer Louis Vierne ("Welcome to my Rock and Roll"), a 5 part suite of short pieces, starting off with the whirlwind "Allegro Maestoso", a raunchy guitar-dripping tryst furiously flirting with bombast, spiced up with some sonic sarcasm and irony. "Cantilene" has the synths doing the damage, coyly whirling in and out of the orchestrated tubular bell tussle. "Intermezzo" and "Adagio" clearly search to show off some devious attempts at classical music, using synths, pianos and guitars to up the ante. "Final" is the most accomplished arrangement, with some more stellar lead guitar playing and a feeling that these are musicians who clearly enjoy their passion. That this "kolossal projekt" has such a diminutive fan club is beyond my comprehension. It is a modern, exhilarating, brooding, powerful, humorous and persuasive slab of precious symphonic ecstasy, with remarkable production values, thus creating a constantly fiery soundtrack to some philosophical movie like "A Beautiful Mind" but in a proggier setting! Entirely enjoyable and deserving of 4 Sartre vomits. Merde alors!
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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