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Mystery - The World Is a Game CD (album) cover





3.98 | 366 ratings

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4 stars Coming after the classic 'Among the Living' was not going to be an easy task , so let's get rid of the tendency to compare this in any form (its like your children, who do you love more?) and listen with an open ear and an ever wider open mind. Both Michel St-P're and Benoit David (who got his dream stint in Yes) have crafted a more profound album than ever before , searching out richer musical playgrounds , aided and abetted by bass maestro Antoine Fafard and colossal drummer Nick D'Virgilio ,whose long list of credentials speak for themselves, the man is a terrific percussor. Cosmic additions that are worth the price of admission.

The selection is denser than ever before, lush with resonance and effervescent melancholia, as Benoit certainly owns some amazing pipes, which he confidently showcases most unashamedly. The guitar play is stellar as to be expected (St-P're guitarring prowess was never an issue , check out the little undisguised Deep Purple riff and the hidden James Bond theme thingy ('You only live twice' jangle) on the opening 'Pride', Fafard's buzzing bass and Nick's powerful propulsion. A very convincing track that has everything to please and more' perhaps even Mystery's crowning achievement as the voice is just utterly convincing. Man, this is good '..

'Superstar' is always a dangerous word, leading often to delusions of grandeur that may not be merited in any way, so the gamble lever has been pulled. Starting off sweetly pastoral and effortlessly bluesy (wow what a lead guitar!), the beat solid and decisive, the song evolves into this gigantic blowout, a power prog ballad of the highest order with tinges of dissonance that is obvious and daring. Infusing big choir mellotron washes is always a plus for me (I go gaga over choir 'tron) and the Quebecois lads do not even hesitate. Nick's drumming is bold and manly, fitting in gorgeously into the mix. The lead guitar has that positive Santana-like vibe that is unmistakable in its resonant optimism, a very cool trait from Michel's creative mind. The title track actually goes for the jugular, crafting a barrage of lush symphonics and a quasi-Genesis feel that works brilliantly. The tune slowly builds into an anthem 'like arrangement which just shines brightly to the bittersweet end. David of course is the main ray of splendid heat, giving an emotional performance; the man is a solid candidate for best prog voice in 2012. Huge, huge, huge. The guy can probably do Kevin Cronin, Geddy Lee, Jon Anderson, Robert Plant and Michael Sadler imitations in his sleep.

'Dear Someone' shows off Benoit's angelic side, often cited as the reason why Squire and company chose him over a cast of thousands. This is intelligent pop-prog, if the airwaves could only hope to have stuff like this playing on air! Won't happen, the axe solo is too technical and of course too long, the bass is too busy and the drumming beyond athletic. Imagine a prog version of REO Speedwagon and you will see the picture brightly. I could listen to this stuff all day and no passerby would even object.

'Time Goes By' has an altogether singular feel, expertly cinematic like good prog should be, a soundtrack for the mind. Nice and heavy style here, the crunching riffs pounding gently, the chorus divine and the imaginary sublime. David really lays into the microphone here, rich and deserving. Then to close off with a near 20 minute epic is what courage and confidence are all about. 'Another Day' follows all the classic prog epic rules, a huge slice of symphonic ebullience, structured to impact deeply on the soul with recurring themes elevated by well conceived construction, supplied by a variety of musical materials, tools and infinite inspiration. The arrangement contrasts very from gentle to rough and sweaty, clanging acoustics and challenging electrics, a little hint of Locomotive Breath to keep one off balance and a sly mention of 'close to the edge' that only adds humor to the already stellar production. Smart, suave and sensual. A psychedelic bridge section only furthers the fire, like some prog roller coaster. Here the prog gets heavy and raw, there it seduces with sexual dexterity and sensual howls of delight. Again, you cannot help noticing D'Virgilio's stupendous style, a busy and virtuoso performer. Fafard can also play a mean bass, everyone's on the ball. Back we go to the front again; Mystery reboots the whole thing for a second bulldozing run until a crescendo is reached at the end, just like a good eargasm should. The trembling and fuzzy lead guitar solo is divinely slicing through the profound lyrical melancholia; a delicate piano appearing at the perfect moment. This amazing whopper will require repeated listens before it can completely sink in. Fascinating! Certainly a strong groove here that deserves the highest praise.

Not as accomplished on the whole as One Among the Living', this is a worthy album only a few baby steps behind in terms of rating but of unqualified musical expression, with enough captivating moments to warrant frequent revisits. The silly 'prog version of Journey' comparisons need to die, its patently ridiculous by now in Mystery's evolution.

4.5 Toy Planets

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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