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Sensations' Fix - Boxes Paradise CD (album) cover


Sensations' Fix

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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3 stars The fourth album (and first of two in 1977) by this underrated Italian band completed a transition from the spacier music of their earlier LPs toward a more accessible, song- based format. But don't expect anything approaching mainstream Mediterranean Prog Rock: guitarist Franco Falsini continued marching to the rhythm of his own private muse, influenced (in philosophy more than actual practice) by Robert Fripp, and the books of Kurt Vonnegut.

This time around there isn't a single cut on the album without lyrics, all sung (as always, in somewhat fractured English) by Falsini himself, whose voice is suggestive, at least in its upper octaves, of an earthier Jon Anderson, sounding not unpleasantly like the Yes vocalist with a slight chest cold. The words themselves are nothing special, and invariably take a back seat to the music, with plenty of room allowed between verses for long instrumental breaks in unpredictable time signatures, highlighting the dynamic interplay between Falsini's interstellar guitar work and synthesizers.

All of which had never sounded so good, at least when compared to the group's earlier, more amateur productions. Maybe there was a learning curve to be conquered in the sound studio; it might explain their curious habit of revisiting and revising older material on subsequent albums, with or without drums, or vocals, and often retitled in each new incarnation. And here it is again: the two instrumentals Just A Bit More On The Curve and Yardbird's Dream, both off the 1976 LP FINEST FINGER, are combined here to become the song Visions Fugitives, not to be confused with their later album of the same name, which did not (as far as I can recall) feature the same track under that or any other title, Any questions so far?

This is a strong album even by contemporary benchmarks, striking a fine balance between nuance and aggression, and completely lacking the time-capsule quality that makes listening to most progressive rock from the 1970s an exercise in rose-colored nostalgia. Even the cover art, both front and back showing the same airbrushed profile of an ice-cold platinum blonde, is well outside traditional prog standards of the time, sporting an almost post-punk severity and simplicity.

Maybe it's a good thing the band wasn't around long enough to wear out their welcome.

Postcript: I have to take issue with the rating definition applicable here. In all fairness I can't award the album more than three stars, but to call a slice of vintage vinyl more than a quarter century old (and yet to be re-issued on CD) "non-essential" is a slap in the face to our collective memory. Regardless of how they compare to the acknowledged classics of the genre, records like this are an invaluable reminder of an unfairly neglected chapter in modern music history, and if only because of their relative scarcity are to be treasured.

Report this review (#29113)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good.

For me this was somewhat of a disappointment after the excellent first three albums. 'Boxes Paradise' is not quite as interesting or innovative as those albums, though it's still a great album. It took me a little while to fully appreciate it, as it is a little bit of a different style. "The Flu" is a very good song, catchier and more streamlined than their prior work. "Faux Batard" and "Mother's Day" are two other very nice tracks. "Boxes Paradise" and "Voices" are pretty good too. "Luna Slain" is a reprise of "Fullgast" from 'Portable Madness', and "Visions Fugitives" is a reprise of "Just a Little More on the Curve" and "Yardbird's Dream" from 'Finest Finger' (Take those songs off and you have 26 minutes of new material). Both now have vocals, as do all songs on this album (unless you except "Short Flights", which is the last 2/3 of "Boxes Paradise"). Further, most of "Mother's Day" is a reprise of parts of "Parte 2" and "Parte 3" from Franco Falsini's sole, 1975 solo album, 'Cold Nose Story', though it is much more developed. All of these reprises are somewhat different, sometimes adding drums, and adding and/or subtracting guitar and synth parts. The new versions do add nicely to what was there on their original counterparts.

There is also a Genesis/symphonic prog influence on here it seems, especially on "Faux Batard" (vocals), and "Mother's Day" (music and vocals) IMO. The album overall sounds more straightforward than their previous work, and is definitely less psychedelic. There is some complexity, for example some alternating 8/8 and 11/8 on "Boxes Paradise" and some 5/4, 6/4 and 7/4 or "Mother's Day".

In some ways I like this much more than the band's earlier stuff - its smoother, tighter, more upbeat, and more listenable.


Report this review (#247294)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is SENSATIONS" FIX fifth studio album and it sees the band going in more of a commercial direction although that Psychedelic vibe is still strong. There are vocals on every track which is unusual for them as they usually create instrumentals.

"The Flu" is catchy with vocals coming in before a minute. Not a big fan of the vocals in this more commercial setting but you better get used to them. "Faux Batard" is another catchy tune with the vocals and guitar standing out. "Boxes Paradise" is not as catchy but still has vocals until 2 1/2 minutes in to the end. Nice section. "Voices" is vocals a beat and guitar expressions.

"Mother's Day" is guitar, bass and drums early. The guitar reminds me of Hillage. Keyboards after 2 1/2 minutes. Vocals follow then an instrumental section comes in around 5 minutes. "Luna Slain" is more of the same really while "Visions Fugitives" offers up a good heavy undercurrent with vocals over top.

A good album that for me is a significant drop from their first four studio albums, but I know many who love this one.

Report this review (#760167)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2012 | Review Permalink

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