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T - Psychoanorexia CD (album) cover





3.89 | 267 ratings

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4 stars Ambitious. Clever. Creative. Familiar. Mysteriously (dis-)organized and emotionally distant. This album reminds me quite strongly of 2009's The Underfall Yard by BIG BIG TRAIN, 2011's War and Peace and Other Short Stories by SEAN FILKINS as well as a large part of THE FLOWER KINGS discography in that the musicianship is top notch, the songs are very elaborately constructed, the engineering and production is excellent but, ultimately, something is missing--something in the music that fails to connect with the listener. Whether that is melody, repetition and/or recapitulation, or meaningful/comprehensible use of its extreme dynamics I am not sure. While I connected with the album opener, "The Aftermath of Silence" immediately--and continue to enjoy it start to finish?and liked and now love the third song, "The Irrelevant Love Song", repeated listens under many varied conditions (car ride, headphones, at the computer, iPod while working) to the albums other two epics, "Kryptonite Monologues" and "Psychoanorexia" always leave me numb, irritable, or dumbfounded. Sure, there are many impressive quirks, tricks, and instrumental displays, but the short-term and overall effect of the two songs leave me completely disengaged and disappointed. I cannot criticize or fault their ambitiousness and amazingly mature "band"-like feel to the instrumental performances and mixes, but M. Theilen's complex, meandering music seems to serve a purpose known wholly only to him.

1. "The Aftermath of Silence" begins in outer space (Maybe Major Tom's capsule?) before descending into an eight-minute tribute to THE CURE's 1989 masterpiece, Disintegration. At the 9:50 mark, the song's feel shifts rather dramatically, though continuing in a slow, Cure- ish manner, only with treated drums, arpeggiated electric guitar, higher-register bass play, and background Mirek Gil-like blues guitar soloing in the background. In the fourteenth minute there is a brief presence of Jon Anderson's voice before some "strings" and then piano and "brass" take over (how BB TRAIN-ish!) The collaborative weave builds to a nice crescendo at 14:53 before falling away to piano arppegios and the sound of children's voices on a playground in the background. At 15:38 the now familiar--and quite-well- hooked into our brain--vocal melody returns for a minute before a brief cyber-glitch pause ensues before a searing, if brief, guitar solo breaks loose, only to quickly disappear as the song fades out with only the piano's arppegiated chords slowly fades among the background noises of space and playground children. Excellent song start to finish and not overly clever or complicated, with plenty of recurring themes to help us stay engaged. (10/10)

2. "Kryptonite Monologues" (20:47) begins full blast and continues to deliver music at a volume and urgency that reminds me quite a lot of France's NEMO--rocking on the harder edge with quirky, complicated twists and turns in the music, literally stopping and starting on a dime, changing directions (mystifyingly and often frustratingly, even gratingly). I have to admit that I feel somewhat disappointed and almost cheated with M. Theilen's use of effects to mask his natural voice (which I quite like). The sixth minute is quite reminiscent of some of Gabriel-Era GENESIS' more grating, quirky moments ("Get 'em Out by Friday," "The Battle of Epping Forest"). The song's highlight comes at 8:15 when "full orchestra" accompanies a powerful vocal section in a Broadway moment. Alas! It is all too brief. (The most common theme in this and the album's last song.) The vocal babeling of the eleventh and twelfth minutes is mystifying (Oh! So MARILLION!) The next three-chord rock section is a bit over-the-top but then an interesting SIMPLE MINDS/PSYCHEDELIC FURS sections sneaks in and then a quirky synth solos along with Thomas's Bowie voice! Quite a little NEKTAR feel to this fifteenth minute. Then it, too, is gone, replaced by a kind of 80's FIXX guitar strum sound. Then a ROY BUCHANAN/RANDY BACHMAN-like guitar sound solos while a radio-like voice talks in the background. And here is my complaint: All these changes are just so odd! Too what end--what purpose, what reason? At the 15:48 mark begins another SEAN FILKINS/BIG BIG TRAIN section of delicate floating, horn-supported mujhsic. Another highlight?and this time T actually sustains it for a full two minutes before drums and other instruments begin joining in. The song then floats down and away into the final two minutes' peaceful section with piano gradually joining in as synth washes and a very-background treated voice continues to sing to the end. Unfortunately, the beauty of the last three minutes cannot make up for the confusion of rest of the song. (7/10)

3. "The Irrelevant Love Song" (8:09) is a rather straightforward song that reminds me quite a little of some of the more recent work of PHIDEAUX. Great use of rhythms, more gradual dynamic shifts and the best vocal on the album?such a strong voice in this mid- to low- range--all built over a very insistent low chord progression (anyone else here LED ZEPPELIN guitar chord progression?) Solid song start to finish. (9/10)

4. Like PORCUPINE TREE's Fear of a Blank Planet, T's fourth and final song, the album's title song, "Psychoanorexia" (19:29), I think this will be remembered for being so perfectly exemplary of its day and time. The catch words and colloquialisms (in English) from our current cyber-world as well as the chaotic, high-stress edgi-ness to the music does give it some power. In bursts and segments. (7/10)

Again, though I appreciate the tremendous effort and skill that went into the creation of this album of sophisticated music, there are too many twists, turns, and sections that fail to take me in and keep me engaged. And I miss the blatant David Bowie-like vocals T employed more (and with great effect) on Anti-Matter Poetry. Obviously there is some personal, subjective reasoning for this, but at the same time, not unlike the albums mentioned in my opening paragraph, the flaw of failing to achieve and maintain personal attachment makes this album difficult for me to rate "a masterpiece."

4 stars.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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