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SPHERES

Now

 

Neo-Prog

3.39 | 23 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Gerinski
Prog Reviewer
4 stars An excellent neo-prog album were it not for the first 2 tracks and, to a lesser extent the vocals and some improvable production. The closest reference for this belgian band is Yes. Which Yes? Well, actually a mix, we will find fragments evoquing the symphonic prog of the classic line-up, and moments more reminiscent of the Trevor Rabin period (especially because the guitar is much more Rabin-like than Howe-like). This is neo-prog, but leaning more to the symphonic side than many other neo-prog bands like Jadis or Illuvatar who are more melodic-pop-oriented.

The music stands mostly on the constant interlacing between the very good keyboards of Herve Borbe and the guitar of band leader Vincent Fis, who combines standard prog rock playing in the most symphonic parts with a hard, nearly metal edge in other parts. This was 1991 and the influence of Eddie Van Halen on many guitarists of that generation was evident. The bass (by female Veronique Duyckaerts who also supports with backing vocals) and drums are good but they are penalized by the equalization and mix, mostly the bass which often sounds too high-pitched. The lead voice by guitarist Fis is not very good, but it stands the level of "acceptable". In fact the vocal phrasing is really fine, it's just that his timbre is not the most pleasant around.

The album starts disappointingly bad with 2 tracks which will screw your listening experience of all the rest, so I strongly advice you to skip them and start straight from track 3, which is what I always do. These 2 disposable tracks are the opening 170191 (presumably the date in european format in which the recording began) which is just a sonic intro of distorted guitar and keyboards which my dad would call noise, and the second track "Children of the dying world", a neo-prog-AOR song clearly inspired by Yes' "Owner of a lonely heart" but worse. Skip them both.

If we start from track 3 things get really interesting, with the 33 minute suite "Converging Universes" which forms the core of the album. The first movement starts with a great instrumental introduction with a nice time signature of 16/8 - 19/8, followed by a good melodic verse and including an organ solo alla Rick Wakeman. Fis uses frequently the figure of transposing a scale to different octaves in his soloing, something much done by Howe, but he uses also more modern and heavy-guitar techniques. A really nice symphonic 13 minutes. The second movement is more standard neo-prog with hints of Pendragon, Pallas or IQ. The third movement starts with a short acoustic guitar bridge followed by a mid-tempo part which could remind us of the first part of Yes "I've seen all good people" mixed with the Simple Minds (yes I know that sounds strange), a nice catchy melody which is revisited in instrumental fashion in the final "Reprise".

Then we have "Source" which is a beautiful piano solo piece, again with some Wakeman influences, and "Lost" which is a simple slow-mid tempo track, a bit repetitive and nothing special by itself, but in the whole scheme it fits. Not everything in a good prog album needs to be complex.

The final instrumental "Paradox" is another fine piece of neo-prog, not formally related to the suite but since it has a similar style it feels as a kind of reprise and wrap-up, closing nicely the complete set of tracks 3 to 10.

Once again, this is neo-prog and you should judge it as that, do not expect a "Gates of Delirium" here, but this is certainly better than many acclaimed neo-prog albums. Just remember to skip tracks 1 and 2.

Gerinski | 4/5 |

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