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Fish - Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors CD (album) cover





3.83 | 371 ratings

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4 stars Solid 4 stars, if not 4.5

Is it a cliché to say "Great album"? Fish's solo debut after his departure from Marillion was a strong, strong start and yet the first step into a story that did not unfold as many would have hoped.

As most purists of progressive music agree, the divorce between Fish and Marillion is something that should have never happened, and is quite as tragic as Peter Gabriel's departure from Genesis. Together, Marillion and Fish had a unique chemistry from which emerged a musical ambiance of gloomy sentimentality and poetic melancholy that is forever lost and that I still long for after all these years.

Still, after this tragic divorce, both Fish and Marillion, now with frontman Steve Hoggart, produced excellent debut albums, the former with Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors and the later with the excellent Season's End. Both parties would keep producing good pieces here and there but never quite reached the same level of musical creativity on a continuous basis like in the good old days of those four early albums.

This being said, and my apologies for this long intro, Vigil exceeded most if not all expectations as a debut album for Fish solo. First, Vigil marked a major shift of musical and lyrical color for Fish, who chose to work, à la Gabriel, with happier themes and ambiances (still not rosy though).

The title track (my favourite) opens with a slow but powerful progression from soft keyboards to electric guitar and then full throttle, and off we go into an album that never really disappoints for its full lenght.

Big Wedge is the radio hit attempt and has little relevance to the progressive world, but somehow fits nicely into the album.

Then follows State of Mind and Company, two songs with interesting musical arrangements and lyrics. The accordion section on The Company is particularly moving.

The ballad A Gentlemen's Excuse Me can hardly leave anyone indifferent. Simple on the structure and arrangements, but featuring a nice lyrical progression and musical movements, with the violin addition in the last section. Makes a strong impression.

Voyeur is, perhaps, my least favourite song, but it adds a harder rock element at a point of the album where it is welcome.

The last tracks, Family Business, View from the Hill and especially Cliché, are three more testaments to Fish's creativity and emotional appeal, combined with nicely done musical compositions. Cliché, perhaps the track with the most progressive elements next to Vigil, ends this great album with a powerful and poignant song, vocally, lyrically and musically, and features one of the nicest lyrical twists I can think of.

Unfortunately, the following albums from Fish were not to match this one.

NB : The bonus disc on the remastered edition of Marillion's Clutching at Straws contains materials that were being worked on by the band at the moment of Fish's departure. Some were kept by the band and integrated into Season's End, while some others were kept by Fish and integrated into Vigil, such as Sunset Hill and Voice in the Crowd...

SentimentalMercenary | 4/5 |


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