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Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars Phideaux? Good boy! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Another fantastic discovery for me courtesy of the Archives. Phideaux Xavier is a talented mulit-instrumentalist: guitars, keyboards, and vocals. Phideaux was put in the art rock category, but to my ears the music on this one, his second album and the first Phideaux in my collection, is more of a symphonic/space rock/prog folk blend. I guess art rock works as well as any category and I'm always a sucker for artists categorized as such.

In addition to the guitars, keyboards, and vocals by Phideaux, drums and bass by others, you also get some nice female vocals on most of the tracks, the occasional cello, and even theremin. (Don't worry, not at all like Good Vibrations.) The music reminds me a lot of many of the progressive greats of the '70's but I really couldn't point to a single one in particular for comparison. He really has developed his own sound. It's mostly on the mellow side. If you're in the mood for some great new stuff by all means get to his web site and check out the streaming song samples. This is my first Phideaux, but it won't be my last.

Report this review (#131605)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm not really into psychedelia or space rock ala PINK FLOYD but since this album reached my hands I didn't mind giving it a try.First of all,Xavier Phideaux is a very talented musician.Second,Fiendish is an album with a lot of touches in yhe PINK FLOYD side and their legendary albums.Try for example ''Headstones''.It's a great song that easily could be in a PINK FLOYD album.There are also plenty of (really ethereal) female vocals that give to this album a specific and alternative taste.Really different, PHIDEAUX worth your attention!
Report this review (#144886)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Should I say that this is the first truly Phideaux album? Probably. The patchwork of songs under the "Friction" umbrella was just a poor collection of tracks which didn't make justice to this guy. Because, under the Phideaux band name, there is mostly one man. The multi-instrumentalist and song writer Xavier Phideaux.

This work has some spacey flavour ("100 Coda") combined with some more folkish atmosphere "Hellphone". I wouldn't say that this record is a great one, just decent with a few good pieces like "Little Monster" for instance.

Gentle and folk music is what you can expect from this "Fiendish" recording. Pleasant and friendly music overall, without outstanding moments. Even if there is a myriad of guests playing on this album, they seem just to be there to play their part.

I wish I could be more enthusiast about this album, but there are hardly great songs featured here and the global mood is somewhat too much of the same and sounds usually flat. "Soundblast" being a kind of highlight.

Two stars.

Report this review (#181979)
Posted Sunday, September 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. The album cover is psychedelic but the pictures in the booklet are quite gothic. In the liner notes it says "Dedicated to my best friend and father, David Nevin Riggs". Also we get these words "Fiendish an excorcism performed by Phideaux". I have to say that this guy can write a song, i'm very impressed with his lyrics on this album.This is a collection of eclectic songs that range from good to very good.

Things get started with "Fragment" a catchy mid paced tune with piano and even some theremin after 3 minutes. "Animal Games" is an interesting song about nature. The guitar 2 minutes in really lights things up.The sound of crickets ends it. "100 MG" is humerous as the answer to our subjects problems in life is always 100 mg. This always takes his problems away. Haha. Cool sounding guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. "100 Coda" is darker with distant sounding vocals. "Hellphone" features strummed guitar which is joined by electric guitar with vocals to follow. Some harpsichord in this one too. Female vocals help out as well. "Little Monster" is one of my two favourites on here.The lyrics are interesting and we get male and female vocals. Some ripping guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. Some spoken words and singing from children on this one too. "Headstones" sounds so good with the acoustic guitar and vocals. Light drums join in followed by some grinding guitar in the background. A special song. "Fiendish" opens with cello, some autoharp takes over before almost whispered vocals come in before 2 minutes. Female vocals arrive as well. "Vultures And Mosquitoes" is all about the lyrics. The acoustic guitar is quite beautiful.

"Soundblast" is my favourite and it's about the Atom Bombs that were dropped on Japan. Fragile vocals to open before a heavier sound arrives before a minute. Higher pitched vocals follow. This is really hair-raising yet tastefully done. The female vocals sing over and over "Evacuate your cities, surrender", as Phideaux sings his words. Then we start to hear another person counting down slowly from 10 to 1 as an emotional guitar solo comes in. Brilliant ! It ends with Phideaux barely singing over and over "I have you to blame for nothing" as it has calmed right down to end the song. This is such a proggy and meaningful song. "Space Brother" is mostly piano and reserved vocals. A sad song.

I like this cd quite a bit, a collection of fairly relaxed tunes that are done very well.

Report this review (#190669)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Fiendish was my introduction to Phideaux and it stands as an excellent example of how music can just be trouble-free symphonic, sweet, agreeable and still, simply beautiful. Phideaux serves a mix of Stupid Dream-alike Porcupine Tree with early 70's Bowie and a discreet stuffing of early Floyd psychedellica. There's also a folksy element, for a song like Headstones I'd even dare to refer to Simon and Garfunkle.

By consequence it doesn't excel in originality but it is written and executed very well. All songs are pleasant, though I could live without Little Monster. Hight points are Vultures and Mosquitos, the space rock of Soundblast and Phideaux's take on Collapse The Light named Space Brother. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#255713)
Posted Saturday, December 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Listening to the earlier efforts of PHIDEAUX first as samples and then on disk, I am reminded of what I coined years ago, non verbally, as the "radio effect". This phenomenon describes how good music can sound great when listened to in juxtaposition with the average dross out there, but when compared with one's own hand-plucked collection, its sheen diminishes somewhat. Still, "Fiendish" demonstrates the man's range of influences and establishes him as a singular artist with a sound very much his own. The epics and recurring themes aren't here yet, but his simple yet eerie folkie meets glam delivery offers many pleasures. At this stage PHIDEAUX handles his material best with sparse acoustic arrangements and understated embellishments as opposed to multilayered vocals and synthesizers.

The sequencing of "Animal Games" and "100 mg" possesses its own theatrical impact, each song being oddly similar in melody and mood, and representing the best of the disk. "Hellphone" sits comfortably as a precursor to his more ornate work, and while it doesn't have much time to develop, it sticks. "Headstones" reminds me of MAGNA CARTA meets DONOVAN, but with a dark side we would expect from Phideaux. Another highlight is "Vultures and Mosquitoes", returning us to the off kilter style of "Animal Games".

Unfortunately, Phideaux runs into more than his share of dead ends this time around, especially when his BOWIE influence insinuates itself a bit too forcefully, as in "Little Monster", or when he prototypes his more ambitious future styles in the last 2 numbers, which are just drab FLOYDian exercises at a point when Phideaux is essentially just a folkie with attitude.

While you need not be a complete Phideaux fiend to enjoy this disk, it helps if you have a penchant for acoustic based prog, or an interest in the man's roots.

Report this review (#299245)
Posted Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fiendish was the debut album of the band Phideaux, and while it may not be the best debut I have ever heard, it demonstrates that from very early on, the ingredients that would make Phideaux's music so remarkable later on were all in place. The melodies, the darkness, the lush vocals - they are all well used on this album, if not as well as they would be later on.

My expectations were quite high for this album after listening to Chupacabras and finding out that a fair amount of that album had been cut from this one, including the monster title track. Unfortunately, none of the tracks here really reach the heights of Chupacabras. This is a very track oriented album, with highlights including the opener Fragment, which has a lot of energy; Fiendish, an early version of what would become the Chupacabras suite, sounds great in its own respect; Headstones, a great mostly-acoustic track; and Vultures and Mosquitos, which I think (other than the title track) best demonstrates where the band would succeed best on their later albums.

Unfortunately, there are some downers on this album as well. I find Animal Games to be clumsy compared to the finesse the band would master later on, or even the skill they demonstrate on other tracks in this album. And although I understand where Phideaux is coming from in Hellphone, the pun in the name is just a little bit painful, especially with the frequency it is repeated in this (thankfully) short tune.

Other tracks come across as strong enough but hint at a greater potential; Soundblast is perhaps the best example of this. I know that the song should be the best track on the album, it contains great layered vocals and darkness that really appeal to me, but in execution, something just doesn't strike me as being as tight as it could have been. Phideaux himself has commented that, if/when this album ever gets re-released (it is, as of the time of writing, out of print), he would want to remaster it and mentioned this song specifically as one that he think did not reach it's potential. So it could just be the youth of the band and their recording methods that makes it lose some of the punch that should be there.

This is not as mature a release as the band would release in the years that followed, but still a good listen overall. Fiendish will definitely appeal to fans of the band. In particular, fans of the track Chupacabras will probably appreciate the title track of this album.

Report this review (#299395)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars The fantastic trip begins... not so fantastic

Fiendish is first proper full-length studio album by non-standard American artist Phideaux and his already full-time band. From the beginning of Fiendish, huge potential has been revealed. But it's yet to be developed later in their career. For the present we can enjoy this curious release. The album contains good ideas and as I said before, it reveals what a bright future was awaiting the band. The melodies are catchy and interesting, but I shall mark the dryness they are developed with! As whole the conception of the album is quite simple and amateur. An album appropriate for psychedelic fans; on the edge between fans only album and good album!

Report this review (#429560)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fiendish managed to beat my expectations. Typically, when I see an album with a rating lower than 3.45 or so I worry that it is severely defective some way, not so with Fiendish. What we have is a new band, ignoring Friction as the band suggests you do, starting from a position of strength. It can take a while for bands to coalesce around a specific sound. Even though the band had understandably not worked up the worked up the courage to make a concept album or a 20+ minute suite at this point, this is quite clearly the work of Phideaux.

I had been given a false impression by Ghost Story and Chupacabras about how the Phideaux's sound has evolved. I was under the impression that the band moved from a more conventional rock sound towards something more exotic, but that clearly isn't the case. Despite the fairly simple song structures, the sound of Fiendish is much closer to Chupacabras than it is to Ghost Stories. In fact, I think Chupacbras can almost be thought of a more ambitious reprise of or sequel to Fiendish. The tracks Headstones and Fiendish/Vultures & Mosquitoes clearly have shared pedigree with Fortress of Sand/Titan and the Chupacabras suite respectively. To me that's a good thing, Chupacbras the album is one of my favourites. Unsurprisingly, these tracks are the most entertaining part of the album.

In short, there is lots to like if like me you are a fan of Phideaux. It is dark and captivating, but more self-conscious than their later work. About the only thing that kept me from bumping this album up to four stars is the lyrics. Those who know the band well are familiar with the band's penchant for lavish and often beautiful, but somewhat insubstantial verse. It's probably worse here than any other point in the discography. It's kind of to be expected at this early point in their career so I don't really let it drag me down too much. If you're new to Phideaux, it's a find place to start, but know it gets oh so much better than this. If you are a collector and a fan like me, I recommend getting it to fill out your collection, but not until you've hear the big stuff on Chupacabras, Doomsday Afternoon, Number 7, Snowtorch and even Ghost Story to a degree.

Report this review (#859401)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Review Permalink

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