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Discus - ... tot licht CD (album) cover

... TOT LICHT

Discus

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.11 | 53 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Don't expect something easy to listen and digest when listening to this album the first time. It took me roughly 7 spins to digest this album. The first spin I was only able to digest several catchy tracks. I think it was only 3 tracks that I could classify as catchy tracks. It's a different feeling that I experienced if I compare with listening to Marillion's "Marbles" where my first impression was "Is it this simple? Why it took 2 years to construct the album?". With "..tot Licht" is the other way around "Ugh .. so complex! Why this band creates something damn complicated?". But the action that I took after first spin was the same: put the CD on the shelf and did not touch it for a couple of days. Life went on . and as usual I played other CDs of The Flower Kings, Yes, early Marillion, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Kamelot, Dream Theater, Kansas, etc. Something was then struck into my mind when I listened to The Flower Kings "Unfold the Future" and The Tangent's "Music that Died Alone". There is a similar tag line in terms of music composition between two albums, i.e. they both provide "complicated" arrangements for their music that I could enjoy. So why not "..tot Licht"? So I grabbed the CD of this album and spin it again. And then I realized the explorative nature of the boys in the band (oops! Sorry .. there is girl as well here .) in constructing this complex stuff. And here comes my review .

"System Manipulation" is a catchy track for me as I enjoyed it the first time I listened to this track. Opened with an ethnical vocal "aa aaa aaa" (it's nice melody here) followed by a canterbury / jazz fusion sort of music. The female voice enters nicely in this track. The music piece here reminds me at the music of NATIONAL HEALTH or WHEATHER REPORT sound. I enjoy the complex jazzy composition here, really. Drum is played dynamically here and it accentuates the song. The drummer seems like setting the tone of the music, unlike typical drummer who usually plays as a goal keeper. The melody is nice with guitar riff and Balinese gamelan as background that contextualize and enrich the overall composition of the track. Here and there you find an ethnical music of Indonesia: Bali and Sunda. At minute 3:30 the music turns unexpectedly and unanticipated before to a what so called prog met style (yeah, DREAM THEATER-like music) with strong guitar riff. Yeah! Hail the glorious metal!! Observe here how wonderful the male voice that sings in extremely high tone (remember, it's a metal part man!Yeaaaahhh .). The metal part is not forever though, as it turns smoothly (smoothly!) to a jazzy playground that let the female vocal takes lead. And then back again to metal part with great Iwan Hasan's voice "uuaaaaaa aaa" (it's metal man!). This makes the track unique and has its own identity. The keyboard solo at approx min "6:00" is really stunning! I wish it should be played longer here. Even though this track is complex, with great variety of melodies but it has a tag line melody that brings all other melodies center around it. I would say the tagline is at parts with the female voice and the ethnical vocal where all sing together "aa aa aa aa ". (ugh .. it's been so many lines I've written about this one track only? I'd better stop it. Honestly, this track deserves 3 pages review due to its complexity combined with varieties of melody offered by this track). I give this track FIVE STAR! Great job, guys!

The second track "Breathe" is another great track as well. Again, I like the melody at intro (after breathing sound) especially with the male voice that sings high tone "aaaaaa" (hey, I just realize that this kind of singing style is a sort of "trademark" for the band as I have never heard this style created before by any other band. Great!). Observe how the keyboard sound at background provides accentuation for this track! Again, to me this is a FIVE STAR track as it has strong and tight music composition.

The third track "PESAN" (in English means MESSAGE) is not my cup of tea, I think. It's a nice ballad song with a jazzy touch vocal, good acoustic guitar and woodwind instrument. At least, it's for a break after having gone through two complicated (pressurizing?) compositions. It's good though. So I give three star for this.

On "Verso Kartini". There are two things that bound to any music: 1.) the story that the musicians want to tell the listeners, and 2.) the structural integrity of the music composition itself. In reviewing this track, I cannot leave the discussion on its composition only but also the idea behind the music. I will not dwell into detail on historic nature of the story in itself as there are many books have covered this issue. What I can tell is that this is about Indonesian female hero, "Kartini", who fought for women's right during a colonial period in Indonesia. I understand that the musicians try to get the messages across through various melodies and backgrounds in this track. Looking at this perspective, this track serves the purpose as it brings the listener to the nuances of heroic and fighting spirit of Kartini. Unfortunately it cannibalizes (a little bit) the other part, i.e the structural integrity of its composition. It seems to me the musicians here have forced too much some pieces of music so that some transitions between melodies do not happen smoothly. I appreciate on the ability of the band to demonstrate the enriching nature of a fight, but it should not sacrifice the structural integrity of the track. However, considering varieties of good melodies offered in this track, I still give four stars. Not bad hah? They deserve it.

"Music 4.5 Players" should NOT be in this album. I wish. I completely hate this track! It demonstrates only the musician's ego (IMHO) by playing the instruments in solo. What the heck about the meaning of this tune anyway? It takes 7:40 minutes for this track? Such a waste of time, my friend! I completely disagree with the idea as it does not provide the challenge of bringing musicians together as a whole. Well, for those of you who like solo, you might enjoy this. For me? Oh no no no . I still have a bunch of albums to listen to. No way that I can bear one minute listening to this track. My experience when once I listened to it was that this track is only suitable for soundtrack of a film, something for "Tom and Jerry" movie, I guess. So this track is worth skipping . (thanks to digital technology that eases me to do this.).

The intro of "Anne" is wonderful, backed with a traditional Balinese gamelan and Sundanese woodwind instrument. The intro part after vocal is rocking with great pentatonic sound of Balinese gamelan. The guitar sound flows nicely with rock style followed by a traditional flute. This track is the most complex composition of this album. I notice some transitions are well done but some are not. The inclusion of Balinese' kecak voice has enriched the nuances. Hey, I smell a KANSAS-like violin playing at roughly minute 7:06. Am sure it's a coincidence, or influenced? Never mind, it's just a bit and not really "exact" melody. I like this part at minute 7:06 onward where there is a dialogue between male and female vocal backed by nice guitar sound and violin. Oh God .. this is wonderful and beautifully crafted track! There are many metal-like guitar playing in this track. All instruments were played skillfully. Again, I smell a KANSAS- influenced melody at around minute 15:00 until around 17:11. The segment from minutes 17:11 until the end represents the overall encore of this epic track with female lead singer take the lead, backed with very nice keyboard and violin. It concludes this track brilliantly! To make matters into perspective, if you have not got this album yet, it's like the ending section of YES' "Close To The Edge" track (structure-wise, not melody-wise). BIG FIVE STAR for this track! Again, another wonderful composition by the band!

As I have the LTD edition, there is a bonus track "Misfortune Lunatic" that I don't want to discuss here in detail as I understand that most of you won't get it. But this track is excellent, with jazz nuance and dazzling bass guitar playing and violin.

One thing I missed to elaborate: the sonic quality of this album is damn excellent! This helps a lot to digest the music as it is a complex composition. May be, some of the readers of this site may not favor this album due to its complexity. Never mind, I experienced 7 spins to get through. Once I passed it, I was definitely "hooked" with this album with exception some tracks that did not hit me as I mentioned above.

So, this album deserves five star rating IF there is no musicians ego (track 5) that I hate (sorry for the musicians, but I'm your customer. I reserve the right to dislike this track) and if the ballad is made more proggy. So it is fair to give FOUR STAR overall. Additional note: musicianship is TOP NOTCH! (all musicians contribute their parts skillfully!). What do you think? - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Gatot | 4/5 |

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