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Persephone's Dream

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Persephone's Dream Anomalous Propagation album cover
3.69 | 8 ratings | 3 reviews | 38% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Red Light Syndrome (8:10)
2. Surveillance (5:50)
3. Despoina's Dagger (10:45)
4. Queen of Fools (6:23)
5. Rhizomatic Horizon (6:16)
6. Deep Web (9:13)
7. Translucent (8:06)
8. Defenestrated (8:16)
9. Love (4:17)
10. Candlelight (5:09)
11. Principle Amor (2:10)

Total Time 74:35

Bonus track on Digital album:
12. Surveillance NSA Mix (5:50)

Line-up / Musicians

- Rowen Poole / guitars, synths
- Chris Siegle / bass, synths
- Heidi Engel / vocals
- Jim Puskar / drums, percussion
- Jason English / guitars, vocals
- Laura Martin / pianos, keyboards, synths, vocals

Releases information

CD Melodic Revolution Records (2019)

2LP Melodic Revolution Records (2019)

Digital album (October 12, 2019)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PERSEPHONE'S DREAM Anomalous Propagation ratings distribution

(8 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (0%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PERSEPHONE'S DREAM Anomalous Propagation reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
2 stars In 1993, a guitarist named Rowen Poole and a bassist named Chris Siegel found a vocalist by the name of Judilynn Neidercorn got together and created an album called "Evening Mirage" under the moniker of "Persephone's Dream". In 1998, some changes were made and Karin Nicely became vocalist and drummer Ed Wiancko joined the band. The music started becoming longer and a bit more complex, and in order to take the show on the road, they added John Tallent on percussion and Kim Finney on keyboards in 2000.

In October of 2019, the band is still going strong as they released their 6th album "Anomalous Propagation" 9 years after their previous release. To say that the band came out of their hiatus relatively unscathed would be an understatement as the band lineup is completely changed from those earlier days, except for the original duo that founded the band. The current line-up consists of Rowen and Chris on their original instruments and adding in synths to both of their contributions, but beyond that, everyone else has changed. Heidi Engel is now on vocals, Jim Puskar on drums and percussion, Jason English on guitars and vocals, and Laura Martin on pianos and keys along with vocals. The band has definitely gone through a lot of personnel in their time. "Anomalous Propagation" consists of 11 tracks and has a robust run-time of just over 74 minutes.

"Red Light Syndrome" (8:10) (with lyrics by Heidi) starts it all off with a complex, sometimes soft, sometimes heavy track. The verses tend to be deceptively simple while the chorus is more complicated with heavy progressive sounds. Some of the vocals seem to be a bit off as far as tone, and I don't think that is intentional, at least it doesn't seem to be. Granted, the instrumental parts don't necessarily follow the vocal melody, so it is obviously difficult to sing on key, but the vocalist's delivery isn't really that appealing. The music itself is excellent, though, with some great guitar and keyboard work, and a level of complexity. There is some band banter in the middle of the track as the band resets for a very interesting turn of style as the singing turns into a layered, almost operatic style and the music intensifies quite well. This change is a turn for the better, for sure, as things get more interesting, but before the end, it returns to its questionable state felt mostly in the vocals. At the end, Heidi says "Nine more songs to go." Hopefully they are better, at least from her end.

"Surveillance" (5:50) has an Alan Parsons/Pink Floyd feel to it and the vocals starts out as spoken word, and then regular singing follows. Again, things seem to be a bit off between the instrumentals and vocals. The music is a bit lighter here, and I would rather hear the vocalist do the spoken sections. Also, again, the music is in a better league than the vocals. It's really too bad that things don't seem to mesh up between the two, because the music itself is quite good. Unfortunately, things don't change as the album goes on. The stirring and catchy intro to "Desponia's Dagger (10:45) starts off promising with a nice "Rush"-like bass line, but now it seems like the entire band is off. It is more noticeable as the intro tries to catch the solid groove, but now it all sounds off-beat. Also, you can hear some great ideas here, but the music needs a high level of tightness in the band to really be good, and it just doesn't get there. It comes across quite messy.

Going through the album, you keep hoping that things will get better, because the great ideas keep trying to shine through and the progressive level is there, but it is very distracting that everything just doesn't seem to come together very well. It ends up sounding very disjointed and out of sync. The first part of the album just seemed to be an issue with the vocals being out of synch, but after a few listens, you notice that things are also a bit off there too. It's really too bad that this issue wasn't worked out, because it could have been a decent album with the excellent ideas that are here, but that all comes to naught when it is all put together. In the end, it all just becomes very difficult to listen to.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars I do not know why it took 9 years for Persephone's Dream to release their sixth album, but it is interesting to see they have looked backwards as well as forwards, re-establishing themselves by going back to their roots in some ways. Guitarist and co-founder Rowen Poole (who also provides synths) may be the only person who played on the previous album but he has welcomed back onboard fellow co-founder and bassist Chris Poole (also synths) alongside singer Heidi Engel who was on 'Pyre of Dreams'. They have been joined by Jim Puskar (drums, percussion) and Laura Martin (pianos, keyboards, synths, vocals) plus what is possibly the most interesting addition, a second guitarist in Jason English (who also provides vocals). This is the first time they have used a twin guitar line-up and definitely sees them looking back into their earlier works. This CD has been released in a digipak with a fold out booklet, and it is interesting to see a manikin on one of the panels, as that alongside the colours being used immediately made me think of 'Opposition' which they released back in 2001.

They deliberately use vocal discord, which can be somewhat unsettling until one gets used to it ' given there are harmonies placed against it, and it is something which was experimented with on the previous album I am sure it is seen as a point of difference. When she needs to Heidi is perfectly on key, and I have yet to get fed up of Heidi pleading with the producer not to delete her vocals and make her do it again during opening song 'Red Light Syndrome' and being told it will not be fixed in the mix: the fact we are told it also 'needs more cowbell' makes me smile. With two guitarists there is room for some rather complex interplay as the guys move into far heavier territory than in recent years and keyboards not nearly as dominant although there is some nice underlying piano. This is an album which is going to really split opinion, as there will be some who really enjoy it and others who feel it is an opportunity missed. Me, I am much more to the former than the latter, as they move far more into 90's neo-prog with some interesting songs and approach.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
5 stars Persephone's Dream have released their 6th album 9 years since "Pan", "Anomalous Propagation", with almost 74 minutes of pure quality prog. The album focuses on primarily the vocals of Heidi Engel who is exceptional, and some fine musicianship from Rowen Poole on guitars and synths, Chris Siegle on bass and synths, Jim Puskar on percussion, Jason English on guitars, and Laura Martin on keyboards. Band members assist on vocals also and there are a lot of harmonies which are well executed. Heidi is in fine voice with a similar style to "Pyre of Dreams" with songs such as Aphrodite. It is a polarizing album as it is not as proggy as previous releases, namely the masterpiece "Pan" that I had described in the 5 star review as "an offering of melody and dense music poured out onto a labyrinthine canvas of artistic beauty." Could this followup live up to such a glowing review? "Anomalous Propagation" is certainly progressive though less than "Pan", and it is not as conceptual as previous albums, but definitely wrapped in a pseudo conceptual framework with inter-related songs that revolve around the idea that our world is locked in a digital prison where technology has become our master and we are under constant surveillance. Surveillance, Deep Web and Rhizomatic Horizon are inter-related in this context with surveillance, secretive conspiracies and digital highway being primary within the lyrics. I contacted Rowen Poole, guitarist and band visionary, about the meaning behind the lyrics and I will reiterate some of his musings in this review.

Red Light Syndrome is referred to by Rowen as a bit of a joke reference that has been in the band for years, being "the condition one experiences when the red record light comes on and you suddenly forget everything about the parts of the song you are trying to play for the recording... it's like being under this super electron microscope, everything sounds horrible and mistakes are amplified a million times." Interesting side note that the term is found in the Urban Dictionary unbeknownst to the band. The track actually sparkles with synth building into a crescendo of drums and bass in an odd metronome signature, jarring to the ear but effective, along with the seductive breathy vocals of Heidi. Some very choppy guitar rhythms along with complex keyboards lock in and then a glorious lead break. It halts and we hear the sound mixers agony of trying to get the sound right and then Heidi trying to explain it will all be fixed in the mix. There are a lot of in house speak and jargon here that I can relate to as a musician myself in a church band, acoustic guitar, bass and now drums, and I enjoyed the innovation of allowing the listener in to this recording studio environment. It is fun to hear all this fly on the wall banter and especially the last words "only 9 more tracks to go".

Surveillance is about the CCTV that is everywhere with us being constantly under the camera eye. According to Rowen, it was actually inspired by a late night 2:00am visit to the grocery store, where he walked down an aisle in mid darkness and as he walked the lights began to come on triggered by motion sensors. He and his wife began to count the amount of cameras and there were over 250. It was a revelation that led to a conversation with the store cashier where Rowen asked if there had been that much shop lifting that they would require a massive amount of CCTV and she replied not at all, in fact there were even cameras in the break room that watch the staff. This inspired Rowen to write this song based on the constant surveillance that seems to be everywhere these days and what is the real reason for such an influx of cameras; what are they really there for and who is watching. This unsettling subject matter is enhanced by some genuinely creepy whispers and odd ramblings about being on a film set with electronic terminology and a glossary of filming terms. It is very effective to transport us into this shrouded closed in world, augmented by synths and guitars that seem to emanate from some other worldly dimension. The drums are powerful along with the repetitive guitar motif with haunting synths that reverberate. As a big fan of Toyah I was reminded of her style and I loved the hyper strange atmosphere on this track. It launches into an aggressive vocal with guitar distortion and a glorious lead guitar break that climbs into the stratosphere. Absolutely mesmirising and a definitive highlight.

Despoina's Dagger is a lengthy track clocking 10:45, with a concept about Persephone's sister Despoina, and based on a short story Rowen wrote about "a man that wakes up in a room and is, as far as he can tell, being seduced by a beautiful spy, or so he thinks." The spy is based on Marvel Comic's Black Widow, a film that is still on hold due to CoVid-19. The song moves along a powerful bass line, played like Geddy Lee, and some well executed vocals with dreamy, sexy breathy technique. The tempo changes throughout and the vocals almost battle to keep up. This is one of the more complex tracks on the album. At 4 minutes in it changes into a funky bass thump rhythm and some off sync vocals with blazing synth and drums. It gets crowded for a while until lone bass solos provide relief and a vocal section with mystical qualities. I like how the song keeps changing yet flows nicely from one idea to the next. The lyrics muse about the mystery and passion, of refined, and undefined love.

Queen of Fools is based on broken relationships, with some off sync vocals and chaotic rhythms to show the interplay between unrequited love and broken promises. Heidi sings about frozen dreams, icy relationships, fate, destiny, and visions. This is a more spiritual approach to the album with very ethereal musicianship. There is a cool marching snare rhythm and heavy breathing over a wall of synths and guitar picking. The ascending keyboards empower the song with an empathic feeling of melancholy. A very pretty piano solo chimes in with gorgeous violin strings and acoustic flourishes. Heidi moves into Nightwish opera mode in a magical interlude permeating the calming atmosphere "craving one small sign (and) hollow echoes".

Rhizomatic Horizon is another highlight about surveillance and the web are dominating society and the rhizomatic structure of it all, according to Rowen, "you can get here from anywhere and that path isn't the same path I arrived at this point either." This is a fantastic song with an incredible promo clip that makes it all the more potent. The music is a frenetic mix of dissonance and order with a great riffing guitar bouncing along a synth line. The inflection and cadence in the vocals is superb. There are some heavy distorted guitars balanced with guitar picking reverb. The outburst of keyboards and axe with new tempo rhyhms is terrific, and Heidi sings "I am everywhere" as though the internet has found a voice. There is a twin lead guitar solo with harmonics and arpeggios, Then some off kilter operatic vocals begin ascending into the highest C register, as good as Floor Jansen or Heather Findlay can reach.

Deep Web is about the darker side of internet surfing with genuine moments that made me shudder, speaking of the seamy, steamy dark web that is to be avoided but the protagonist finds themselves drawn in without escape. The lyrics speak of "encrypted limited access... beware conspiracy, spy and surveillance's eye, for the deeper you search, the more you find only in the depths of the deep web." A cautionary tale that the web can be a dark place with forbidden truths that will leave a scar on your life. Obviously a place that should not be entered.

Translucent opens with a screeching synth, footsteps and awesome bass line, then soaring twin guitars. Heidi sings with powerful resonance about "the heat and the dark of the night, deep desires, glitter and starlight, hiding in plain sight, down it goes, chasing what was once forbidden, yearning for your touch." The multi layered vocals are wonderful and I love the heavy guitar riffs and incredible rhythms of percussion and bass. The musicianship is excellent and at over 8 minutes there is plenty to love with twists and turns exemplifying a band that is really in full flight, a delight to listen to. The story behind the song involves a short story about the one person in life you want to be with, but with mixed signals things get complicated and it becomes unrequited love.

Defenestrated, Latin for thrown out the window, is based on Rowen's short story about a taxi driver sitting in his favourite bar late at night having a drink with a frequent denizen of the joint, reminiscing about life and a mysterious, attractive woman he encountered in the Burbs who may or may not be a spy. It open with a synth soundscape, a steady tempo and vocals that seduce in their cadence. A blistering lead guitar is a highlight akin to Andy Latimer or Steve Hackett; amazing indeed in its soaring power. It gets cacaphonic towards the end and hyper fast with some sensational fret work.

Love is a love story of sorts with male and female vocals, an interplay of emotions, and even a raspy vocal as the aggression sinks in. There are distorted guitars and relentless drum rhythms that cause a dissonant scape, jarringly appropriate as the lovers argue.

Candlelight is a song that sounds like Mostly Autumn for a moment with female vocal intonations over a guitar reverb. The lyrics are purely about the way a candle flickers is akin to a metaphor for life, as an ember, glowing, flickering, then being snuffed out, "a light to guide us on our way". A hypnotic guitar motif drives the song, until a new tempo locks in faster and more urgent, and Heidi becomes more enraged, "will you follow the darkness, empty and hollow". There is a break and another rhythm comes in till it returns to the beginning riff, bringing the song to its conclusion.

Principle Amor is a short stab of prog at 2:10, with a grandiose bass line and pounding percussion, till Heidi's vocals and a guitar breaks through. Heidi sounds breathless and acts as a temptress singing of the principle of love, or is that lust? An odd way to close the album, but there is a bonus track with Surveillance NSA Mix, a different version of Surveillance and one worth hearing; its such a great song.

The band released two excellent promo videos with Surveillance and Rhizomatic Horizon that are definitely worth having a look at. Overall this new release by Pan's Labyrinth is one of the best albums of the year and a real grower; with every listen it becomes more powerful and I really grew to enjoy the vocal work of Heidi and the endearing melodies. I rate this high because it really resonates with all that I love about prog; innovative interchanging time sigs, powerful lyrics, gorgeous vocals and heavy concepts layered with virtuoso musicianship. Now I am going to immerse myself in the Persephone's Dream back catalogue. There is so much to love about this wonderful band.

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