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VICTOR

Victor

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Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some of you may ask, what is Victor? Well, Victor is the sole solo project from Alex Lifeson of Rush. Recorded between the Rush albums Counterparts and Test for Echo, what you'll find on here is stylistically different than what Rush was doing at the time. Here, you'll find a bitter, angry, and cynical Lifeson, who creates crushing riffs as well as quirky melodies and has a genuine Zappa feel with his guitar. The band he chose for this project, while not in the same league as Rush, perform Lifeson's material well. Edwin (from I Mother Earth, who opened for Rush on the last date of the Counterparts tour, has a rough edge with his vocal approach, but it really works with the music. Blake Manning is a solid drummer, giving a solid back beat while the musical chaos ensues. Guest musician Les Claypool (of Primus fame), also finds himself playing bass on the track The Big Dance.

As I mentioned above, the music is stylistically different than anything Rush was doing at the time. One can immediately notice a change from the opening of the first song, Don't Care. This powerful 7/4 intro is complimented nicely with some gritty, bitter, and angry vocal from Edwin. Lifeson right from the start shows that this album is not an upbeat one, and he starts it perfectly. Promise begins with a nice Rush-esque riff a bit reminiscent of the Fly by Night kind of sound; it's a nice counterpart to the heavy opener. Edwin is really great on this track, hitting the notes perfectly and shining during the chorus. If I'm not mistaken the breakdown during the chorus is in 9/4, as well. Start Today features a female vocalist (Lisa Dalbello) who sounds eerily like Geddy Lee. The riff on the song is strong, despite it being one of the weaker songs on the album, in my opinion.

Mr. X is a short instrumental that has some great Alex Lifeson soloing and a strong bass presence. The drumming is also solid. At the End is a quirky track that is a bit dreary in message. It continues the pessimistic theme that the album has, and it really takes it to a whole new level. Sending a Warning has a strong 5/4 guitar riff that has feels almost as if it could have fitted in Joe's Garage or one of Zappa's early 80s albums. It's one of the stronger tracks on the album. Shut Up Shuttin' Up is an instrumental piece, save for the conversation between two women. The conversation these two women (Alex Lifeson's Wife and her best friend) is inane and disheartening as the main theme of the song is, "shut up and play that guitar". Lifeson then comes in at the end and repeatedly yells shut up. A bit of an odd track if you ask me.

Strip and Go Naked is another instrumental piece which features some nice mandola from Lifeson. It has a bit of a trance feel to it, and Lifeson's solo on it is brilliant. The Big Dance is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. It has this industrial feel. Les Claypool is a star on this track, despite it being hard to hear the bass on it. The guitar is the real treat on this track; the crushing riff really makes the song one of my favorites on the album. Victor is the last of the quirky tracks. It has a bit of a new-age feel, and the horn on it is great. The song itself is a shortened narrative (with Lifeson doing a top notch narration) of the W.H. Auden poem of the same name. The poem itself is a depressing work about a man who kills his loved ones because of voices he hears (or so the sections that are on the song reveal). I Am the Spirit ends the album with a bang. This song has a truly Rush feel on it. This song features what I believe to be the most uplifting lyrics on the album. Lifeson once again has a great feel with the riff and the heavy interludes. Overall, all Rush fans should look into Victor for a peek into the tormented life of Alex Lifeson during that time. It's not a terribly hard album to find on the internet, but you may have trouble finding it in a store. It's well worth the purchase. The music is solid, the lyrics are solid, the whole album is solid. 4/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#80300)
Posted Sunday, June 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The darkest and meanest Rush album.

Hey, wait! Sorry, this ain't a Rush album, but it sure sounds like a very, very disturbing one!

Yeah, disturbing. Lifeson's had some quite big demons to expel and frankly, it's more like a slap in the face than a handshake. God, I was shocked at first. Lifeson is not congratulating or thanking anybody, he's just angry and strangely aggressive verbally. The lyrics are sometimes crude, sometimes coarse (with 'f words') and generally towarding suicide, domestic violence and selfdestruction because of drug and booze abuse. Did Lifeson had problems with illegal substances or self control? With an album like that, we can have doubts about it. Oh and he's setting the score with women too. Oh man, talk about it.

Despite the scary lyrics, the whole music approach is genius. Really, Rush album should sound like that. Here, the sound is kinda dirty, with very loud guitars and sharp but simple drumming and programming. The vocals are VERY good, done by a capable Edwin (from I Mother Earth). He maybe suffers from an ego issue, but what a voice my friends! What a voice! Lifeson is also singing in the title track. Many instrumental tracks are available too! Lifeson knows how to surround himself, and my hat goes to Claypool on bass and the speaker-blowing vocals by the always attractive Dalbello, which kinda pastiche Geddy on track 3.

Commenting on and on about every song is a waste of time. It's hard to describe albums that personnal. Few bands got that deep and been that frank into self comments...Yeah, it sounds like Rush, but more like it's delinquant, aggressive cousin.

The X-treme side of Rush.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#80303)
Posted Sunday, June 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first (and I hope not the last) Alex Lifeson solo project with the collaboration of Les Claypole, Edwin and Lisa Dalbello amongst other excellent musicians that gives to this album a refreshing and very experimental sound...

If you are a Rush fan maybe this one will not be of your taste. Even when the Rush inffluence is there in almost every song the final product it's closer to other genres like progmetal, electronic (excellent work on programmings!) and even some Zappa inffluences... looks chaotic and in some way it's true but Mr. Lifeson knows when to put every musica piece in his place, making a solid album, very experimental and taking the risk to do something totally different...

Some highlights: the awsome Don't Care, Start Today, Sending A Warning, Shut Up Shuttin' Up (maybe the most hilarious song of the album because the two-women conversation as a backrounf of the music) and the dark and mysterious Victor...

3.5* for me. Not a memorable album but the efforts or Mr. Lifeson and friends deserves more than one listening and I'm sure you will be surprised by most of the songs on the album...

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Send comments to progadicto (BETA) | Report this review (#99772)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Alex Lifeson's solo album, Victor, released a while back in 1996, was put together during a Rush hiatus, and was a surprise to many fans. Including myself. At first I found it entertaining in a comical way but over time saw the real value in it. If you like the style of Alex Lifeson's guitar playing, not so much guitar tone, you will find this album exceptional. I mention tone because Lifeson definitely tries some new things. And those things are good. During a recent listen, I was reminded of Devin Townsend's layering techniques, but here Lifeson had done it years earlier. Lifeson steps out of the box with this solo freedom and has written music that is very non-Rush, but I'll get on with that later. I'll provide you with track by track reviews. Other musicians include Bill Bell (guitar), Peter Cardinali (bass), and Blake Manning (drums). Lifeson's son, Adrian, provides some computer programming and gives parts of the album a NIN overtone.

As a side note, I had never heard of Edwin prior to Victor coming out, and after purchasing the two I Mother Earth albums with Edwin singing, it helped me to appreciate Victor more.

The first track, "Don't Care", emanates testosterone induced aggression. It sounds like it was written when Lifeson was frustrated or not in the best mood. The strong sexually charged lyrics reflect the basic male instinct. But Lifeson is known for being a clown, thus taking anything seriously by him could be foolish. Prog fans will certainly note the uncommon time signature. 8/10

"Promise", track two, can easily be a Rush song. It is very standard Lifeson from the CP and TFE era with a great hook. I believe the average Rush fan would be happy to hear it played at a Rush show, bit don't hold your breath. The song moves along with its upbeat rhythm. A break in the middle leads to a decent solo with some Lifeson experimentation that is refreshing and harkens back to solos of Lifeson's early days. If you have heard the Rush soundcheck with Billy Sheehan, I think you will hear some similarity. 9/10

Is that Geddy singing!?! Well, no, but the singer in track three, "Start Today", seems to try to sound like Geddy Lee, almost to the point of being annoying. Her name is Lisa Dalbello, a Canadian solo artist. The biggest issue with this song is that Lifeson must have had Zeppelin's "Four Sticks" on the brain. The intro riff is very close to Page's riff. 5/10

Arrive next, "Mr. X", an instrumental with some nice guitar layering. Another up tempo song, this song is very enjoyable but stops short at 2:22. It easily could have gone on for another two minutes. 7/10

Track five begins with a computer generated space rock backdrop. Written by both Lifeson and his son, "At The End" is a spoken word piece where Lifeson utters dark passages of a disturbed mind. He throws in random guitar speak between some of the lines. This is a very original piece, surprising in fact. 8/10

"Sending A Warning" is an outstanding track, with Edwin again on vocals. The music in the chorus is powerful. This song is one to tune the volume knob up on. Its a standard rock song with breaks for the guitar riff. 9/10

Get ready to laugh your a$$ off. Lifeson's true humor comes out here. Track seven, "Shut Up Shuttin' Up" is simply hilarious. The title, as you may recognize, is a famous line from Mugsy in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The song does not have sung lyrics but rather Lifeson chose to record his wife and her girlfriend talking. The things they say will make you roll on the floor dying with laughter. Unfortunately, if Lifeson has to deal with this regularly, I can see why he named the song the way he did. You will have to listen to this track a few times or else you'll miss the excellent guitar work in the background. 10/10

The next instrumental introduced, "Strip and Go Naked" starts out with a jig feel. The guitar effects are pretty much stripped down, so I assume the song gets its title this way. Its listenable, but not too memorable. 7/10

"The Big Dance" is an aggressive song with a driving beat and the return of Edwin singing. His voice fits the song well and provides the rasp to mix the music. The lyrics reflect anger at some woman who may have come on to Lifeson. Surprise bass player on this track is Les Claypool, but the track sounds nothing like a Primus song. 7/10

Track ten, the album title track, is another Lifeson spoken word piece from W.H. Auden's short story of the same name. This track features a sequenced track overlayed with saxophone interludes played by Colleen Allen. There is no guitar on this track but it is entertaining. 8/10

The final track, "I Am The Spirit", is sung by Edwin in almost the same vein as the material he performs with I Mother Earth. This track is excellent. Lifeson finishes off the album on a strong note. It is very aggressive but breaks into a softer chorus that blends well with the over-all song.

If you are a Lifeson fan, this is a must have, because it is so different from Rush. It is a joy to hear what Lifeson can do as a soloist. If you are a Rush fan, don't expect Rush because it isn't. This is an artsy album at times and rocker other times. Overall, it gets a 8/10 from me.

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Send comments to StyLaZyn (BETA) | Report this review (#115077)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This record is really hit and miss with me. Alex I think, tried to do too many things on one album. I don't blame him either because with the RUSH machine he is limited to what he can do. So naturally there is a lot of variety here, and some of it is fantastic while other parts just don't work for me. I applaud having Edwin on vocals who was formerly with a band I enjoyed in the nineties called I MOTHER EARTH.

The first song is called "I Don't Care" and it is a huge departure lyrically from a RUSH album. The words are crude in a sexual way, and I remember the flack he received on the RUSH web-site years ago about that track. This is a dark and heavy tune that instrumentally shines. A scorching guitar solo 3 minutes in. "Promise" is one of my favourites.This is an uptempo tune that reminds me instrumentally of RUSH. A screaming guitar solo 4 minutes in before we get back to the catchy melody. "Start Today" is amazing ! Lisa Dalbello is on vocals and she sounds so much like 70's Geddy with her screaming vocals, it's eerie. Instrumentally this sounds like 90's RUSH, so there is a nice blend of styles here. The rhythm section does an incredible job on this song. "Mr.X" along with the two previous songs are my favourites.This one is an instrumental that is far too short. Lifeson shines !

"At the End" has a monologue throughout reminding me of Robbie Robertson. Some vocals after 4 minutes to end the song. "Sending Out A Warning" is one I like a lot as drums and bass standout. "Shut Up Shuttin' Up" ouch ! I don't like this one at all. 2 women complaining about their boyfriend guitar players grows old really fast. I liked it during the first listen. Not funny at all.The guitar is really good though. "Strip And Go Naked" contrasts the tasteful guitar with the intense guitar passages. Great instrumental. "The Big Dance" features Les Claypool on bass of course, and he and the drummer dominate. "Victor" is sort of strange with this monologue throughout as synths, percussion and horns all provide the soundscape. Don't like it. "I Am the Spirit" is more like it ! Tempo and mood changes in this one are plentiful. Overall though an average tune.

I remember reading that Lifeson gave his hero Mr.Page this cd to have when they met for the first time, I wonder what he thought ? For me it's good but not essential by any means. Some of these songs I really like and want to listen to them over and over, while others I could care less if I ever heard them again.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#126507)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What would happen if Alex Lifeson left Rush to form a band with Edwin? Ever wonder that? Me neither, but here's the answer!

During Rush's 5 year hiatus after 1996 members Geddy and Alex both embarked on solo projects, both capture an element of Rush very well. Characterized by vicious solos and haunting spoken word this album is not everything you'd expect from the Rush jokester. There are moments of quirk, like the increadable instrumentals MR. X, SHUT UP SHUTTIN' UP, and STRIP AND GO NAKED, each sounds like a Rush song, but at the same time, not like a Rush song at all. Among the tracks given vocals the greatest standouts PROMISE and I AM THE SPIRIT are also given life by the Rushesque guitar. The opening riff to many of the tracks would have you believe you're listening to a missing Rush song. However, even with these great songs the best work on this album comes in the form of the title track, VICTOR. This brooding poem turned song is stupendously haunting, if you have the time to really listen to it word by word you'll know what I mean.

A well done album by an excellent artist. Recommended for Rush fans or anyone who wants to hear something very experimental. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#134123)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Excellent solo project by Alex Lifeson!

This albums has a lot of points of interest... It's a real pleasure for every Rush's fan, with a lot of things in common with the Alex's motherband (both in sytle, and obviously in guitar sound...), and it's also very interesting for people who wants to hear first class experimental hard rock.

The Rush's style can be heard in songs like Promise (the riff could be in some of their last efforths...), I Am the Spirit... And specially in Start Today. If you want to hear how would have Rush sounded in the 90's with the 70's Geddy Lee's young voice, here you have an opportunity. Lisa Dalbello's singing on this song is really similar to the Geddy's one in albums like "Fly By Night" or "2112". And it's just spectacular! A very recommended track.

The other songs of the album are not bad at all... I specially enjoy the Lifeson's attempts to make guitar hero songs in he style of Joe Satriani or Steve Johnson in Mr. X, Strip and Go Naked (waht a name for a song...) and Shut Up Shuttin' Up. The more experimental songs can be also heard with pleasure, specially the funny title track and The Big Dance, with the help of Les Claypool.

Best Songs: Promise (that could be a 90's Rush song, and a good one...), Start Today (simply spectacualr, the best song of the album...), Mr. X (great instrumental song...) The Big Dance (splendid hard rock track with a great rythm...) and I Am The Spirit (I just LOVE the guitar solo...)

Conclusion: If you are a fan of Rush, or you are searching for a good prog / experimental hard rock album, then Victor is for you... It's full with good songs, proving what a great musician and composer Alex Lifeson is, and the collaborations make the album really interesting, specially the Les Claypool and Lisa Dalbello contributions. Maybe it's a bit difficult to get into the album... But after a few listenings, you'll notice that it has a lot to offer. Strongly recommended!

My rating: ***1/2

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#227313)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In essence, this is a side project from Rush man Alex Lifeson. For the longest time, I thought that this was a Lerxst solo thing, but apparently, it's credited to an entire band.

If you want a basic picture of the sound, think of the typical Rush sound with heavy cross- pollenation with the alternative rock scene of the 90's (not that I'm an expert in the latter genre). Very many songs are guitar-heavy with basic song structures, yet contain quite a bit of unusual time signatures. It can be difficult to follow the metre of ''Don't Care''.

The vocalist is very capable, but there's nothing special about his voice. This is excepting the spoken passages by Lifeson and a few ladies plus the Lee-like vocals of ''Start Today''. Instrumentally, the album is quite solid; we get the stellar guitar performances, but that's to be expected from Lerxst. I'm not offended by anything with the possible exception of the bass that gets a tad too clanky in spots.

A few songs branch off from the alt-rock/Rush-rock thing. Songs like ''Mr. X'' and ''Shut Up, Shuttin' Up'' have very funky jazz qualities to them. ''Strip and Go Naked'' reminds me of Jethro Tull for some reason barring when the song goes heavy metal. The title track is a very dark, haunting piece that is likely to scare the wee out of any young kid. It's one of the better efforts of the album marred only by the lyrics which have very many cheap rhymes.

It can get too noisy, but there's enough variety here so that casual music listeners will always find something to grasp. For the average progster, this may be a little too heavy, but Rush fans should have no problem getting into the feel of VICTOR. I quite like the album, but not enough for an essential recommendation. It feels like it's missing something that I can't place my finger on.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#227794)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Alex Lifeson is one of my alltime favorite musicians. That's why it pains me to review this album. Voluntary review it, I hasten to add.

The DNA profile of this project/band is obvious. It is the guitar sound and much of the general sound of Rush. Alex is 1/3 and an important part of Rush's soundscape. That is proven beyond doubt on this album. This album is the sound of Rush with some added heavyness and experimentations. From funk and jazz kitsch to more grunge.

The result is not particular good. This album has some good songs (for example Promise). But it also have some experimentations for the sake of experimentations. This album kicks everywhere and is more an exploration of new territories than an album of songs. It is actually a typical debut album where a man who has been a part of a band for decades suddenly find himself alone and pretty lost. Listen to the first Robert Plant solo album and you get my picture. Alex Lifeson's first venture outside Rush follows excactly the same pattern. I should had been a head-shrink and put these two guys in a white room before they ventured anywhere near a recording studio....... Hahaha !!!! Anyway, the Victor album nosedives into a sea of experimentations and that is all I get out of this album. It is not my cup of tea, I am afraid. My favorite drink is Rush.

2.85 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#244896)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Alex Lifeson's solo release is practically a mandatory purchase for serious fans of RUSH, and so long as one's expectations aren't too high, "Victor" proves to be a fun, if light-weight diversion.

Know going in that the sound of this album only rarely resembles anything produced by Rush. For the most part these are straight-forward hard rock tunes, heavy on volume but light on depth. The opener is a big, noisy, riff heavy rocker fans of Lifeson's would probably guess was recorded by someone much less ambitious. While not necessarily bad, it and is numerous cousins, like the driving "Promise" or "Big Dance" don't have much going for them beyond the novelty of hearing Lifeson play outside of his band. However, these songs do score points for me for having many layers in their production, with walls and walls of guitar sound (similar to "Vapor Trails" but with more textures).

Lifeson's playing is, of course, the star of the show, and he certainly delivers. There aren't any stand up and cheer solos or memorable melodies, but rather a fine mix of (noisy) effects, and solos. These are typically short and sweet, shining especially on the instrumental or atmospheric albums. "Shut Up Shuttin' Up" has some of Lifeson's finest jamming ever, and is a clear stand out track for me. The mellow, groovy riffing and crescendo in "At the End" dinstinguished itself nicely for its composition and artistic playing. The rest is pretty much Alex Lifeson by numbers, buried somewhere in clamourus hard rock.

The vocals and lyrics are, unfortunetly, one of my biggest strikes against this album. "Edwin" has an energetic voice but its timbre-- combined with Lifeson's simplistic lyrics-- fail to impress. He's loud, overpowering, and not especially engaging.

Undeniably fun for an occasional listen, but "Victor" would have benefitted more from Lifeson's instrumental prowess than his desire to make a hard rock album. I certainly recommend it to fellow RUSH fans, but it just doesn't have enough going on to make it strong enough to stand on its own without prior enjoyment of Lifeson's body of work.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Enjoyability: 3

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#255676)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars My respect for Lifeson is huge. His canon boasts some of my favourite guitar solos and I admire his versatility and openness for trying out new approaches and sounds. So obviously I rushed to the store when this solo album hit the shelves.

Victor is the first solo project emanating from the Rush stable, and it is a daring album. It's like the bubble of ideas that had been accumulating in Lifeson's head over the preceding years suddenly exploded onto this album. The disadvantage is that he ends up trying to do too many things at once.

But generally I'm not disappointed, not at all. In comparison to Rush, there's a strong influence from alternative rock and noise rock, there's even some industrial sounds. More often then not, all of those influences appear in one song, which makes listening to this album into some sort of "What influences do you hear?" quiz.

As an album it doesn't hold up all too well but there's a couple of great songs and lots of creative ideas which is greatly appreciated. I wouldn't really recommended it to Rush fans though, unless you liked Vapour Trails a lot.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#280582)
Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars Victor is the band name for Alex Lifeson (the guitarist for Rush, as if anyone here doesn't already know that) and his group on his one (so far) solo album. Being one third of Rush, it means that this album bears a strong resemblance to Rush's music. Lifeson makes little effort to differentiate the tones of his guitar from what he does with Lee and Peart.

Right from the beginning of the album, the Rush sound is there. Don't Care has a nice, complex structure, that mixes up timing in 6, 7 and 8, giving it a more progressive sound than most Rush songs since the early 80s. Promise follows, with an even more Rushlike sound. Vocalist Edwin, however, tries to add a more contemporary alternative gruff vocal style to the pieces, but with Lifeson's guitar, it still sounds more like Rush than anything else.

Lifeson does branch away from the Rush parallels on a few songs, most notably Shut Up Shuttin' Up, a funky piece, that has two women (one of whom I believe is Lifeson's wife) prattling on about Lifeson and men in general, with guitar breaks interspersed. It's quite funny. Another departure is the spacy Victor, with a spoken story, that ends up as a religious parable.

So this album is good. It's better than some Rush albums, not as good as others. But it does have some nice prog (and a cameo from Les Claypool).

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#563334)
Posted Sunday, November 06, 2011 | Review Permalink

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