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Pictorial Wand - Face Of Our Fathers CD (album) cover

FACE OF OUR FATHERS

Pictorial Wand

 

Symphonic Prog

3.55 | 52 ratings

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DrZom
5 stars I am a bit shy. Shy because this is my first review, and shy because no one has yet to review this magnificent work. But because this work is so magnificent, and nobody seems to be aware of it, I am compelled to speak.

Get out your headphones; dust them off and put them on. The only way to listen to Face Of Our Fathers is to shut out all distractions and immerse yourself in the flow of the sound.

This is a most beautiful work. I am an unabashed classical music snob and an arrogant proggie. Face Of Our Fathers may not be the culmination of the prog art form, but it approaches the fulfillment that I envision. It combines intricate theme variations by numerous combinations of instruments with compelling ensemble vocalizations. Over the span of about an hour, themes are woven throughout to tell a story of expectations, burdens, love, and tragic loss.

If you are familiar with Mattis Sorum's first work, "A Sleeper's Awakening", then you know the promise shown in that work. Face Of Our Fathers is a far more mature, more focused work. One disc is sufficient to reveal Sorum's powerful vision. While I gave Sleeper three stars (I think), Face deserves five stars. Maybe a half star deduction because of some fuzzy production. His development as a composer is clear. Where Sleeper rambled, Face is sharply focused on the development of both the story and the musical themes.

I do not mean to lay down a track by track description of this work. I doubt my competence to adequately do so. There is just so much going on in this work. A theme is stated, then picked up by various instruments, and developed around other themes and instruments: layer upon layer, instrument upon instrument, one in your left ear, the other in your right. This may not be a classical sonata form presentation, but it comes close. This is more than a concept album; it is a single work with movements. Symphony is the word that comes to mind.

The first track, entitled The Wasteland, epitomizes all that is extraordinary about this work. A clean theme is presented by acoustic guitar, while in the background, a clergyman lays to rest a father and his son. The theme is expanded into electric, and the vocals establish the conflict that forms the basis of the work. One generation lays expectations upon the next, which that next generation finds onerous but does its best to live up to. The Wasteland powerfully lays out the competing plot themes as expressed by the musical themes of the work: Father's expectations, Mother's fears, Son's best intentions, and Lover's lament. These are motifs that repeat throughout the work.

The fourth track, The Ghosts Start Dancing, is probably my favorite. A fairly simple theme is expounded, developed, and varied. Instrument is laid upon instrument, and vocal upon vocal. This track features what I find to be one of the most compelling vocalizations of the work. The son has taken a wife, or at least a love, and she mourns his absence as he goes to a war that is forced upon him. She hates the war that takes him from her, and longs for word of him. In turn, he laments his absence but feels it necessary; more, he is proud of what he does. While I find the story to be compelling, I easily lose track of the sung words as a form of communication, and find the tonal interplay of the vocals to be singularly rewarding. God's greatest instruments, as a well known syphilitic head banger once observed. The vocals do sweep me away, particularly the female vocals. Crank the volume a bit. "Oh, the rain fills my hand, but brings me no word of foreign lands."

When the seventh and final track is reached, a multitude of themes have been woven and are now explored and expanded. This 12 minute piece draws together all the disparate elements of the story into a final tragic conclusion featuring some of the most compelling vocals of the work and without doubt the best musical variations. When it finally ends, I find myself almost breathless.

This work is an excellent example of what, in my opinion, progressive rock can be. While it is not a perfect example, it comes close enough. After all, this is only Mattis Sorum's second work. It did take Beethoven nine tries to get it right. (OK, OK, his third try was pretty damn good. And he had a few other nice ones.) I eagerly await Sorum's next opus.

Those who, like me, love the work of Ayreon or PX should with out doubt find this work and buy it. IMHO, Sorum challenges them. If you think Phideaux's Seven may be the best album of the year, you must hear this one before passing judgment. This work is as complex and compelling as anything done by Lucassen or Phideaux, or more. It is certainly darker and not as airy and simple as Seven. This work approaches what prog rock can be as a serious art form. It goes beyond being only an essay of how one generation inherits the baggage of the previous. It is a beautiful work of music, of art. It is brilliant.

This work is a valuable addition to every prog collection. Five stars for composition and vision. Minus a half star for fuzzy recording.

DrZom | 5/5 |

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