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Argent - Nexus CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.65 | 90 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Argent's fifth album came after two commercial success, and probably as a result, their record label allowed them a bit more freedom on this one as it happens to be a tad less mass-appealing, but artistically-speaking this album is their tops, even if this is reached by the domination of Argent's songwriting of Ballard's. But this will be achieved at a great cost, as there will be no hit single on this album.

The three-part instrumental Kohoutek (presented on the Encore album as a 10-min Coming Of Kohoutek single track) is definitely the album's highlight as the first movement is taking its sweet time to unravel its mysteries and twists building from a slowly evolving synth drone to a full-blown guitar/bass twirls and climaxing with Argent's Moog and Hammond stabs at Emerson. The quieter second movement (once around the sun) is no less impressive with a rare Mellotron, while the third movement (Infinite Wanderer) is a little less successful because of Argent's piano work being a little too derivative, but this is a bit of nitpicking. Next to that monster track is the pale in comparison Love track, a rare Ballard credit on this album.

Another standout track is the Music From The Sphere where Argent finally dares to delve a little more in the jazz realm (he had done that successfully in Rings Of Hand with the Sleep track, where Auger's Hammond was obviously his master of thoughts), but his Rhodes is leading more towards Soft Machine's then-current albums (between 6 and Softs), and coupled with Ballard's soft singing, this turns out another strong track. Thunder And Lightning is another solid song (even if the Encore version is much more impressive) where the band proves it can deal drama as well as any other prog band of the era. Keeper Of The Flame is one of those too-often overlooked Argent classic and a favourite of mine. Again Rod Argent's full array of keyboards pepper the track to great effect and add precious depth to a finally-deep Argent album. A Man For All Reasons is another goodie but feels too much like a showcase for Rod's technical abilities, but unfortunately it doesn't stand up to the more glitzy competition. The album closes on the weakest track of the album, another Ballard-dominated Gonna Meet My Maker that unfortunately stands out like a sore thumb

While this album is clearly their better (and best) so far, it will also break up the group's unity. Argent's best prog compositions were clearly not well aligned with Ballard's poppier writings. Part of the frustration for progheads is that his poppier songwriting can be excellent (try out Barnett Dog - 79 and Into the Night - 81 to get a good idea of his songwriting capacities), it did not fit the proggier trackless of the group, his singing was rather uneven and his guitar work rarely more than apt, When Russ found himself with a little less space on this album (coupled with lower sales as it had no single), he took it wrong and left the band before the group's next studio album, but the Live! Encore album would be his swansong with them. In any case, Nexus is clearly Argent's definitive studio album, and clearly the one to investigate in priority, but I am still wary to call it that essential, especially if you own their Live8 Encore album, that is a résumé of Nexus' promotion tour.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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