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Deluge Grander - The Form Of The Good CD (album) cover

THE FORM OF THE GOOD

Deluge Grander

 

Symphonic Prog

3.83 | 125 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Complex symphonic, challenging, great!

Deluge Grander is well known as the brainchild Dan Britton (formerly of Cerebus Effect), joined here by drummer Patrick Gaffney (formerly of Chaos Code, an underappreciated little band who is on ProgArchives), guitarist Dave Berggren, and bassist Brett d'Anon. I first got this album a long time ago but needed much time and many plays to get a real "feel" for this album. Here we are, at least 6 months later, and I'm still somewhat intimidated by the beast that is "The Form of the Good." I never get to play it as regularly as I'd like with all the RPI stuff coming at me but I've heard it enough now to attempt some rambling thoughts---the first of which is that my favorites are easily the two longest tracks "The Tree Factory" and "Aggrandizement". Killer stuff.

This is truly "active-listening music" as it requires the kind of attention you would give a film: shut everything else out, sit or lay down, don't talk to people, just listen. If I approach the album that way it is an awesome experience to behold. If I'm thinking about other things while listening, this music drives me crazy. But since one should pay attention to music, that's a positive. Now, I'm going to use some popular bands briefly as references, so bear with me Dan. [In his PA interview Dan lamented the use of popular groups in reviews suggesting it points to a reviewer's limited musical knowledge---I can assure Dan I have a wealth of obscure references at my mental disposal, but if I mention bands 5 people have heard of, it doesn't exactly help other readers. Further, in the same interview he talks about influences like Tony Banks and Magma, so I guess he does understand this!] Anyway, this is some of the busiest, most dense, some could charge cluttered music you have heard since the more frenetic segments of Topographic Oceans and Relayer (and not that there's anything wrong with that.) To further mess with Dan I'm going to use another popular band to describe DG: to me this band sounds like what an updated, fresh, younger Gentle Giant could sound like if they began in 2009 and tried an instrumental project. Mix that with the saucy attitude of a Semiramis or Rocky's Filj (to get just a bit obscure.) Fans of Arachnoid, Atoll, Shylock, and Anekdoten should all approve---I do sense an influence of French and Italian bands to "Form" but that's only speculation on my part. Murky keys abound, tense violins, aggressive (and awesome) guitars and a smokin' rhythm section. A small team of musicians join on brass, woodwinds, and strings adding another delightful layer of sound throughout the album. A bastard child of symphonic and fusion, the sound and pace are mostly relentless, fiery, disorienting like a first psychedelic experience, off-putting but fascinating. Yet while the pace is mostly driving there are moments of pause and gentle beauty here and there, a light keyboard texture or perhaps a flute solo. "The Form" serves up an energetic mixture of differing approaches that serve progressive fans well. Some of the criticisms of this album have some validity: it can seem like constant tension-building with no release. It doesn't exactly bathe you in accessible melodies you will be humming after the first listen. Then again, if I want catchy I'll throw on Rubber Soul. The sound quality at times could be clearer although there are advantages to a more homegrown approach. The bottom line is that the good, and its form, far outweighs the bad on this one.

The album's five pieces seem very mindfully and successfully ordered. After a lush and enticing introduction the next two parts are exploratory and aggressive, with some just plain hair-raising, roller-coaster jamming in "The Tree Factory" and "Common Era Caveman." I love the expansive and uncompromising musical philosophy here, blending spacious keys, nimble guitars, fluent bass lines, and strings. At the very moment your mind is most stimulated the sky opens up and down comes "Aggrandizement," the 20-minute centerpiece. There is just so much happening in this piece you let yourself go and try to follow the little musical paths going this way and that---breathtaking, exhausting, and rewarding. Dark, somewhat oppressive symphonic with heavy themes and claustrophobic mood in the latter half especially. Closing is the title track which attempts to bring you back to Earth although it is certainly no lullaby. While my descriptions of the sound may not always sound complimentary, my final assessment certainly is. "The Form and the Good" is one of those albums, like Topographic Oceans, that should be digested over years rather than days. You simply cannot properly assess music like this after 3 spins. I expect to keep mining the layers of this beast for a long time, as I can still uncover something new when I hear Topographic even decades later. This album is a slam dunk recommendation for patient listeners, for the kind of prog fans who open up "Book of Mazes" and go straight for the hardest one on the last page. You'll spin your wheels for a bit but you'll love the drive. While not perfect and while DG could top this, it is a solid 4 stars. And one of 2009's finest releases.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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