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Canvas Solaris

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Canvas Solaris Penumbra Diffuse album cover
4.06 | 73 ratings | 8 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Panoramic Long-Range Vertigo (3:51)
2. Horizontal Radiant (11:24)
3. Accidents in Mutual Silence (4:13)
4. Vaihayasa (4:22)
5. To Fracture (7:42)
6. Psychotropic Resonance (4:53)
7. Luminescence (12:00)

Total Time 48:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Nathan Sapp / lead & rhythm guitars, guitar synth, 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, Micromoog, Yamaha CS-60, Korg Poly-61
- Ben Simpkins / rhythm & lead guitars, bass, 12-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, Roland RS-50, Korg Poly-61
- Hunter Ginn / drums, doumbek, djembe, congas, shaker, tabla, timpani, Moroccan clay drums, gong, giro, castanets, tambourine, glockenspiel

- Jeff Wagner / Yamaha CS-60 (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Canvas Solaris & Mario Garza

CD Sensory ‎- SR3030 (2006, US)

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CANVAS SOLARIS Penumbra Diffuse ratings distribution

(73 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

CANVAS SOLARIS Penumbra Diffuse reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtLossForWords
4 stars Sensory Records is recieving a reputation of signing and releasing unique technical progressive metal bands and albums. Among this lineup ranks Zero Hour, Gordian Knot, Spiral Architect, and Circus Maximus. Canvas Solaris is yet another project on Sensory delivering innovative and technical progressive metal.

Canvas Solaris' latest album Penumbra Diffuse is an instrumental progressive metal album. The band showcases their aggressive style of technical playing with a lighter side of equally precise soft playing. Fans of Gordian Knot will appreciate this mix.

Nathan Sapp does a phoenomenal job on lead guitars and assorted synths. Sapp's guitar work is precise and clean. Two qualities that are very rare, but mix very well in metal guitarists. His playing involves spectacular sweeping techniques mixed with delicate acoustic and twelve string playing. Sapp's synth work is not that of virtuosity but of atmospheric sensitivity. Without the MicroMoog ambience, the album just wouldn't have the same character.

Ben Simpkins takes care of the bass lines while assisting with acoustic and twelve string guitars. Focusing on Simpkins' bass skills, it's safe to say that he has a unique groove, but sometimes looses importance amongst the guitars and drums. This is not an incredible progressive metal bass performance, but a solid and unique one with a good amount of subtle sweeps and solos that bring the music to a higher level.

The drummer Hunter Ginn is quite a busy percussionist. While not only laying down some great technical and spot on drum tracks, he also shows skills as a percussionist on multiple instruments like congas, glockenspiels, tambourines, and etc. The percussion tracks are really what make a lot of the softer matierial sound unique.

The last track Luminescence is an excellent twelve minute track that showcases most of what this band has to offer. The track involves solid rythymn playing, technical precision, tonal variation, along with an assorted of different guitars and percussive instruments. The track is also the harmonic peak for the band. Throughout the album, the band focus more on technical skill rather than putting togethor some excellent tonal harmonies. Luminescence is an example of the band's ability not only to put togethor a technical masterpiece, but a harmonic masterpiece as well.

It's definately a four star effort. It's not quite perfect and I hope that there is much for to come from this band, but if this album is any indication of the future, it will be a bright one for these three musicians.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars American power-trio Canvas Solaris has created one of the most refreshing prog metal works in the last years: "Canvas Solaris". Its refreshing nature is in no small degree due to the multicolored musical spectrum that this most versatile ensemble manages to handle within the album's unity. The fusion of the standardized technical power of prog metal, the magic of jazz-rock, the sheer energy of heavy rock, the ballsy dynamics of current KC, ethnic stuff and electronic psychedelia is well accomplished in an amalgam that gets its solidness beyond the peculiarity of each individual ingredient. Besides the already alluded KC, we can mention Djam Karet, Dream Theater, Cynic, Gordian Knot, 89-95 era Fates Warning and 2000-era Ozric Tentacles as major points of reference for this developed Canvas Solaris. Tracks 1 & 3 show the metallic essence of CS right in a straightforward manner. The band handles effective riffs, challenging chord progressions and complex rhythm patterns almost as if it didn't require any effort at all, using the individual musicians' prowess, and yet, not showing off endless pyrotechnics, always keeping the music well rooted on the basic musical ideas. Perhaps that's the most complicated type of complexity, the complexity that doesn't totally reveal its inherent dexterity. Definitely, 'Panoramic Long-range Vertigo' is an amazingly catchy shock for the listener, be he/she heavy metal-friendly or not. Pay special attention to that brief acoustic guitar-and-percussion ethnic passage that comes out of nowhere, like a thunderbolt of exotism that breaks through the whirlwind. 'Accidents in Mutual Silence' has, in practice, nothing to do with accidents or silence: what it shows is a cleverly ordained sequence of motifs and riffs that feel incredibly loud and exquisite. Between the two comes the first long track, the 11+ minute long 'Horizontal Radiant', which serves as a majestic display of ethereal musical expansions based on synth layers and effective dual guitar chord progressions. The presence of 7/8 metallic interludes allows the band mix jazz-rock and hard prog. Very much in the vein of Djam Karet and Gordian Knot, indeed. 'Vaihayasa' is a most beautiful exercise on world music, more specifically, Muslim folk. The interaction between the two acoustic guitars and the ethnic percussions, augmented with synth and guitar-synth layers and mandolin, is a perfect soundtrack for a walk across the streets of Rabat downtown. This oasis of contemplation and mysterious serenity will provide the listener a useful moment of rest before the massive display of energy and red hot inventiveness that is exhibited in the sequence of tracks 5-7. 'To Fracture' brings much of the spirit of 'Panoramic' and 'Accidents', if only mediated with the syncopated vibrations of ballsy jazz-rock in some strategic sections. This one would be the most accomplished of the album's heavier numbers had it not been for the following track, 'Psychotropic Resonance'. This one is really disturbing, and by that I mean dissonant yet playful - just what a combo of Present and Gordian Knot musicians would play in a jam after listening to Primus records for five hours in a row. CS at their most jaw-dropping! Well, actually, the album as a whole is amazing. The closer is the other long track, the 12+ minute long 'Luminiscence', which portrays an eerier feel than that of 'Horizontal Radiant'. The alternation of softer, denser motifs and heavier ones is effective and solid, yet it feels more robust in comparison. The synth solo (provided by a guest) brings back memories of the old progressive ways in the 70s, while the ethnic motif that emerges by minute 8 brings extra colors. "Penumbra Diffuse" has a paradoxical mission as a musical work: it has been designed to bring some sort of renovation to the prog metal thing, but, from another point of view, you might say that this album defies and transcends the sub- genre instead. In my book, Canvas Solaris has created an authentic 2006 masterpiece.
Review by ProgBagel
4 stars Canvas Solaris - Penumbra Diffuse 4.25 stars

The band dedicates this album to Denis D'Amour of Voivod for being a true genius and visionary. Perhaps that train of thought propelled Canvas Solaris to extend their thinking capacity just a little bit further.

This is a more diverse effort then the debut album. There is so much more acoustic sections, atmosphere, heavy synths and some new influences like jazz fusion, Middle Eastern, Indian and African styles of playing. The production is a lot more crisp and polished unlike the raw sound of 'Sublimation'.

Besides the changes and dominance of more influences outside of technical metal there is still the traditional sweet sound of the band. Nathan Sapp and Ben Simpkins throwing guitar lines on top of each other to no end and constant changes of signatures and dynamics are still afoot. They really threw in their acoustic work a lot more, adding them into the heavy and soft sections a lot. Speaking of which, there is a ton of more soft sections on this album. Hunter Ginn still shows that he is an amazing drummer and adds a lot of percussion on this album, using many tribal instruments (nearly 10 different ones I believe!).

A very concise and expansive album featuring a wide array of sounds all melted into a technical metal format that remains hypnotic. I can recommend this album to just about anyone. Incredible music.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Making Metal and sounding smart

Sub-genre: Tech/Extreme Metal (technical, not so extreme, eclectic)
For Fans of: Gordian Knot, Spiral Architect, Dysrhythmia, and why not Mahavishnu Orchestra?
Vocal Style: None
Guitar Style: An array of electric styles from driving heavy metal, too bright acoustics, too warm jazz tunes. The occasional guitar synthesizer shows up as well.
Keyboard Style: Numerous mono synth sounds are used throughout the album. An extremely well trained ear would be required to distinguish between the use of keyboard synthesizers and guitar synthesizers.
Percussion Style: Modern rock/metal set dominates the album, there is no fear shown toward percussive instruments that would seem unorthodox in this context.
Bass Style: Standard rock
Other Instruments: Aside from the previous mentioned percussive instruments, there is also a mandolin played at one point.

Summary: The acceptance of instrumental music amongst the rock and modern genres is a relatively recent thing. Many find it difficult to place an identity to something without a traditional voice. Canvas Solaris is a band that could have easily been ruined by the addition of a cookie monster vocalist. Instead we are treated to a very full bodied and complete band without the addition of something so annoying. As a musical score can be considered manipulative to the mood of a movie, so would vocals be to the intended context of the music on Penumbra Diffuse.

The presentation is anything but heavy handed. Contrast and textures run throughout. When considering the band's given genre's description, the opening track, Panoramic Long Range Vertigo is quite the expected technical metal onslaught. The second track Horizontal Radiant is a less expected 11 minute-long tasty progressive voyage. The song gives an early understanding to the listener that this is not going to be your typical metal foray. By the time the fourth song comes around, Vaihayasa; which sounds much like a piece from Shakti, the listener is prepared rather than feeling like a passenger in a car that has just had the brakes slammed to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Perhaps the most interesting song is Psychotropic Resonance, a frantic borderline RIO piece.

Overall, I come away from listening to Penumbra Diffuse feeling that I have listened to more a progressive album, rather than a metal album.

Final Score: Not a perfect album, but its imperfections give it life. It is the kind of album that most listeners are surprised by the end that they have been listening to the same album the whole time. Highly recommended, four stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is CANVAS SOLARIS' third album and this Georgia trio have toned things down somewhat by adding some atmosphere to the heaviness. I like the way they use the synths and synth guitars in contrast to the all out sonic assaults. This is technical, complex and all instrumental. Oh and I should mention they dedicate this album to the late Denis D'Amour formerly of VOIVOD.

On "Panoramic Long-Range Vertigo" they come out of the corner swinging. The guitar is pretty amazing before 2 minutes.This is so complex and intricate, very impressive. Some moog and synth guitar on this one as well. "Horizontal Radiant" is a top three track for me. This is 11 1/2 minutes of bliss. Much more laid back with synths and drums early before the bass and guitar join in. I like this first part a lot. Some power 2 1/2 minutes in that cuts in and out before it just slashes away relentlessly. The guitar is lighting it up after 4 minutes. It turns spacey 5 1/2 minutes and then kicks back in after 7 1/2 minutes. It settles again to a really great sounding laid back soundscape a minute later. It's heavy again around 10 minutes and the guitar is really moving here as it cries out.

"Accidents In Mutual Silence" is heavy with some huge bass and added synths. "Vaihayasa" is another top three song for me. It's very acoustic sounding with mandolin and acoustic guitars. And check out the tablas, timpani, Moroccan clay drums and congas. A very cool sounding track. "To Fracture" is heavy to open and I like the way the guitar solos over the heaviness after 2 1/2 minutes. Nice bass to follow as it settles and synths come in. It kicks back in a minute later. "Psychotropic Resonance" sounds interesting for the first 2 minutes then it kicks in. Nice. It settles right down before 3 1/2 minutes. "Luminescence" is my favourite. They saved the best for last. Percussion and atmosphere as the guitar comes and goes. Electric piano comes in then drums before 2 minutes. It kicks into gear before 5 minutes and this sounds fantastic ! Synths before 6 1/2 minutes followed by some heaviness. It settles again after 7 minutes before that same heavy sound returns before 10 minutes.

Worth 4 stars by my book. They sound like a blend of ZERO HOUR and GORDIAN KNOT.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Penumbra Diffuse' - Canvas Solaris (7/10)

'Penumbra Diffuse' comes hot on the heels of one of my favourite tech metal albums ever; 'Sublimation'. Throughout their career, Canvas Solaris have been incredibly consistent since their debut, each time pursuing a very cerebral brand of instrumental music, complex and rife with atmosphere. When compared to the album that came before it, 'Penumbra Diffuse' is a marked step towards favouring the atmospheric side of their work. Although not quite reaching the mind-boggling intensity of 'Sublimation', the greater variety of styles and dynamic is an effective development.

Having become quite familiar with the Canvas Solaris records 'Cortical Tectonics' and 'Sublimation', the technical prowess of the band is virtually taken for granted this time around. Of course, and as their labelled style might imply, the complexity of the music is its greatest selling point. Not only is the trio of Sapp, Simpkins and Ginn performing at the level of masters, but the compositions themselves enjoy a thick sense of composition and arrangement. Nathan Sapp's multi-disciplinary style of guitarwork is quick to alternate between rhythm and lead playing, and though the music feels chaotic at times, there is never a moment when the band is not performing in a meticulously pre-calculated unison. Although 'Penumbra Diffuse' will still come as a system shock to the uninitiated listener, the complexity itself has been toned down from 'Sublimation'. Instead of the endlessly perplexing mathematical sequences they went through there, Canvas Solaris have taken a more moderated approach with the use of 'atmosphere'. A fairly broad term yes, but one that seeks to encompass most of the fresh things the band are doing here. From acoustic guitar sections to harmonic explorations and keyboard textures, this exchange has brought them a more balanced sound, although I think I prefer the return to madness that the next album 'Cortical Tectonics'' sought to achieve.

It would be unfair to rate anything by Canvas Solaris less than an impressive score. Although the intensity of their compositions may vary slightly depending on the album, there's no denial that each musician is at the top of their class with their respective instruments. The only weakness- if you can call it one- that Canvas Solaris' music suffers from is its pure attention to the complex and mechanical, often coming off as cold on the emotional spectrum. As such, the awe and admiration I have for their music is tempered when part of me feels less than it should. Of course, taking into consideration the 'mission' of the band to create inhumanly complex music, it is clear that Canvas Solaris have chosen to take a path that most musicians would buckle and cower underneath. In the case of 'Penumbra Diffuse', the emphasis on atmosphere may not be quite as effective as the unrelenting metal attack of the album prior, but it does give a greater feeling that may have been missing from the band's earlier work.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I used to acquire this album a long time ago when more technical always meant better to me. This album would have benefited from it. In the meantime, I have a more complex view on progressive metal including arrangements, compositional aspects. The first album was quite chaotic and all over f ... (read more)

Report this review (#2452860) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, October 1, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When i listened Canvas Solaris it reminds me to a mix of Spiral Architect, a little of spicey Spastic Ink and a good part of Gordian Knot in the melodics parts of the songs. I always support this kind of bands because their experimental ideas of harmony and rythms leads to some melodies never lis ... (read more)

Report this review (#89695) | Posted by ProgDog | Friday, September 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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