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Grice Polarchoral album cover
4.12 | 29 ratings | 2 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2022

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Involution (7:35)
2. Damage Done (5:08)
3. Winter (7:16)
4. Without Her (4:54)
5. Saviour (5:52)
6. Alarm Bells (10:26)
7. Band of Brothers (5:09)
8. Legend (5:32)
9. Polarchoral (14:05)
10. Lapis Lazuli (4:09)
11. Saviour (single) (4:18)

Total Time 74:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Grice / guitars, synths, keyboards, bass, vocals
- Robert Brian / drums
- Al Swainger / bass
- Luca Calabrese / trumpet, flugelhorn
- Alan Burton / uilleann pipes
- Suzanne Barbieri / vocals
- BJ Cole / pedal steel guitar
- Jack Lawrence / autoharp
- Eliza Carew / cello
- Stev Bingham / violin
- Richard Barbieri / synths
- Hossam Ramzy / triangle
- Steve Jansen / percussion
- Duncan Chave / programming

Releases information

Engineered by Duncan Chave at Sound Gallery Studios & Real World Studios
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 Mixed by Stefano Quarta - Tracks 3, 6, 9, 10 Mixed by Duncan Chave & Grice Mastered by Carmine Simeone at Forward Studios (Rome)
Recorded at Sound Gallery Studios (UK)
Additional contributions recorded in Milan & London
Pianos, Guitars and Hammond Organ recorded at Real World Studios (UK)
Drums recorded by Tyler Spicer at NAM Studios (UK)

Thanks to tszirmay for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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GRICE Polarchoral ratings distribution

(29 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (52%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GRICE Polarchoral reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars GRICE is a Wimbledon-born vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter. In 2012, he released his debut "Propeller", an outstanding album, which landed in my collection 10 years later, since I was introduced to his craft through Stefano Panunzi, a celebrated Italian composer who has led a couple of Fjieri as well as a steam of delightful solo albums that lean heavily on idols Mick Karn, Japan and its offshoots, which explains the continued presence of Richard Barbieri throughout Grice's discography. This is his 5th release and surely his finest effort. In order to better target his style, let's say somewhere in the Tim Bowness/ Steve Wilson league (the creative duo behind No Man) but one can also detect a strong art rock sense in his romantic singing that has a touch of Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music), Jim Kerr (Simple Minds), Mark Hollis (Talk Talk) or Steve Hogarth (Marillion) due to the smooth delivery and redolent melancholia. This is intelligent, adult, sophisticated, dreamscape prog-pop, accessible but with a twist of smarts, clever arrangements, and a darn beautiful voice. All ten songs (and one single version of "Saviour" as the finale) remain pretty much in the same mould, offering more than enough space and creativity to make each piece a personal, unique, and expressive statement. Therein lies the genius here, a style that is well founded, deeply grounded, hyper-focused and outright inspirational, as it swoons with class, very much a teamwork feel, no extended solos but each guest contributing to the overall spirit with aplomb.

The "Involution" sets the overall forlorn tone quite succinctly, creating a misty concoction, laden with assorted blurred voices, snappy percussive adornments from Robert Brian that convey a chaotic spasm of feelings and impressions, and an acidic lead vocal that waver in the sonic flutter. A sonic anesthetic. The pendulum swings ahead (or so it seems) with the bittersweet "Damage Done", a platform for Grice to show off his considerable vocal ability, the arrangement much sunnier and reflective, jangling guitar arpeggios, delicate piano, and a calibrated e-guitar solo. The power surge is unexpected and obstinate as Brian drums up quite the storm, glowing into a shimmering simmer.

A bucolic "Winter" steers the audience into a laid back, Beatles-ish ballad, hinting of some lost psychedelia, trumpet and flugelhorn spotlights, a dash of Celtic pipes and Al Swainger's pensive double bass. An autumn breeze "that lets the sunlight in", what great timing! "If this is the Winter, we become Spring". Stripped down to the basics, "Without Her" has a faint aroma of Greek tragedy (or is it ouzo?), probably due to the use of a tzouras (a type of bouzouki), a simple but nonconventional song, as the hot Hellenic sun knows no winter snow and Nordic ice. Grice has the ideal voice to carry this off and impress. Another change of pace with the remarkable "Saviour", an obvious candidate for airplay or at least introduction to the art of Polarchoral , a fluent , accessible and even punchy prog-pop track that reveals further the suave voice's sweet influence on the ears. Cello and violin combine for a chamber rock quality to the forefront, though a stinging lead guitar certainly keeps the tempo on full throttle.

Also of note are the two epic pieces, first up the 10 minute + "Alarm Bells" is an exquisitely crafted jewel, which give the instrumental sections way more breath and wider expanse. Here the overall focus is on a more experimental plane, where lofty sounds, vaporous sensations, polyrhythmic intricacy, and that darn trumpet blaring, all together inducing a dreamlike contrast between sad confusion and intricate yearning. Very much in David Sylvian territory but the voice is closer to Hogarth or Wilson. Richard Barbieri certainly provides the "Synthesis and Sonic Pulse" on this luscious track.

The enchanting "Band of Brothers" questions the notion of love as the powerful words are repeated endlessly ("What about Love"?) , a poignant and foolishly gorgeous romantic ballad that should be compelling and seductive. It is. The oooh-ooh backing vocals are beguiling. Pedal Steel guitar gets a spotlight. "Legend" is particularly intoxicating as the hypnotic chorus seeps deep into the psyche, the luscious Luca Calabrese trumpet swaying like a brassy zephyr. More sonic beauty and an anguished voice that convinces with each panting note that we need to "stop the killing".

The second epic, the 14-minute title track is by far the most progressive on the menu, in that it really painstakingly sets the sonic table with all the prerequisites one would expect from a more exploratory track as it imbues some undulating Saharan motifs (yes, the percussive caravan known as Hossam Ramzy), with sweeping female voices that seem veiled in filigree and shadow. The mood is slightly reminiscent of Ferry's throbbing piece "The Chosen One", an absolute cracker that is not as celebrated as it should be. This a mesmerising kaleidoscope of sun broiled sounds that send the mind into the remotest adventure, the quixotic trumpet again finds itself scouring the sand swept horizon. Magical and intoxicating, this is musical hashish.

The magical blue stones "Lapis Lazuli" sets this one to bed, with only a reprise of Saviour as a radio edit bonus track to add another minty candy to the saliva. As befits a gentle lullaby, the silky voice is a gleaming whisper of passion that seeks only to soothe, perhaps even beguile, as Grice handles all the main instruments while Steve Jansen takes care of the jewelry store of "Ghost pads, Bells and Lazurite sonics". Bloody amazing.

I was extremely impressed, even profoundly moved by the deep qualities of Grice's craft, an obvious labour of love, highly polished and detailed and ultimately, enthralling. I found myself quite hypnotized and spiritually medicated at the conclusion, this after only one spin. I fear that upon repeated returns, this may both bruise and then soothe my aching heart. And that is what great prog does to you, it heals. Thank you, Maria Peters of Hungersleep records for the medicinal music. Dr. Grice from now on, LOL

4.5 glacial harmonics

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mysterious British multi-instrumentalist enlists the help of some mighty friends to produce this, his fifth studio album release since 2011; an eclectic if Mark Hollis/Porcupine Tree/No-Man-like collection of songs.

1. "Involution" (7:35) No-Man/Tim Bowness with some great atmospheric sound similar to the great David Sylvian/Steve Jansen soundscapes. Great atmosphere, great drumming, great Steven Wilson-like vocal flourishes. A top three song. (14/15)

2. "Damage Done" (5:08) the heavier side of Grice--which makes this song a particular standout on this very Mark Hollis-like album. Another top three song. (9/10)

3. "Winter" (7:16) a David Sylvian Secrets of the Beehive-era / Jessie Colin Young song w/CSN vocal harmonies. (13.5/15)

4. "Without Her" (4:54) sounds like a Paul McCartney vocal and song. Even the quirky, insipid and nonsensical lyrics and nearly upbeat melody lines are quite McCartney-like. (8.25/10)

5. "Saviour" (5:52) a fairly straightforward pop song in the style of some of Britain's 1980s masters. I just wish I heard lyrics, otherwise, this is nothing very special. (8.5/10)

6. "Alarm Bells" (10:26) feels quite a bit like a Mark Hollis song--early Post Rock Talk Talk as well as final solo career. The drumming, spacious soundscape, and Mark Isham/Kenny Wheeler-like trumpet play are the highlights for me despite the nice vocal performance. I'm rather doubtful of the necessity for this song to go on for ten minutes, though. (18/20)

7. "Band of Brothers" (5:09) despite Grice's Mark Hollis performance here this is the song that really reveals his mastery at borrowing riffs, sounds, chord progressions, etc. from a broad spectrum of artists and hit records from the distant past. So many stolen artifices! (8.5/10)

8. "Legend" (5:32) a very nice song that is again highlighted by the wonderful trumpet play, synth washes, and vocal performance (of some more sadly insipid lyrics). (8.75/10)

9. "Polarchoral" (14:05) one of the proggiest songs on the album despite its rather constant pace, chord progression, and jam style; the performances by all of the thickly populated weave's contributors is wonderful, start to finish, though I will single out the drummer, Robert Brian, Indian percussionist, Hossam Ramzy, bass player (Al Swainger), drone Hammond (Grice), and guitarists (pedal steel), and vocalists (Suzanne Barbieri on background vocals). It's just a great weave--very simple and cohesive for the first five minutes--until the vocalists sing their initial dreamy lyrics. After that each and every instrumentalists gets some solo time as the weave becomes more animated and undulating. My favorite song on the album. (28/30)

10. "Lapis Lazuli" (4:09) another atmospheric David Sylvian/Tim Bowness-like near-ambient song. (8.5/10)

11. "Saviour (single)" (4:18) didn't really think much of this one in its "uncut" album version; this is no better. (8.5/10)

Total Time 74:24

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of atmospheric progressive rock music.

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