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DIAGONAL

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Diagonal picture
Diagonal biography
Formed in 2006 in Brighton, UK - On hiatus between 2013-2018

DIAGONAL surprisingly appears on the stage in 2008 like an insider's tip. This Brighton/UK-based band is consisting of seven musicians in the mid twenties who obviously have the preference on 1970s prog music.

Accompanied by a 7'' production the eponymous debut album was released by the Rise Above Records label. The songs are full of references to wellknown prog dinosaurs but not getting dusty though. Based on a rich instrumentation and a sophisticated songwriting DIAGONAL is blending nearly all styles the genre has to offer. Far away from any mainstream this band is recommend to prog gourmets.

See also: Bandcamp

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DIAGONAL discography


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DIAGONAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 240 ratings
Diagonal
2008
3.80 | 155 ratings
The Second Mechanism
2012
3.63 | 63 ratings
Arc
2019
4.07 | 50 ratings
4
2021

DIAGONAL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 4 ratings
Live in Leeds 2012
2021

DIAGONAL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DIAGONAL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DIAGONAL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 8 ratings
Heavy Language (Black Sparkle)
2008

DIAGONAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Diagonal by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.06 | 240 ratings

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Diagonal
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by fouad.ai.azar

4 stars This is definitely an album you will want to add to your collection of contemporary retro prog. It captures the vibes of many eclectic prog bands of the from the late 60's early 70's era, such as: ELP, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, etc.

Does it push open a new frontier for the genre? The short answer is no. This album is a reverent nod to their predecessors and will definitely soothe the nostalgic needs of generation brought up on this particular palette of prog.

Audio production is standard, so any of you audiophiles looking for ear biscuits, I suggest you look somewhere else.

The compositions are great for the most part, but at times it lacks to keep the listener on a continuous ride. For example in my favorite track "Child of the Thundercloud" has you listen through a build up with the main vocal melody up until there is a studio produced crescendo, which ostensible punctuated the end of the song. However, in the midst of the rumbling things begin to ramp up again with a riff that felt kind of tagged onto the end of the piece, for no discernible reason other than either: They had an extra riff they wanted to use; they wanted to make the piece longer; they were worried that the piece didn't have enough Umph. Were this riff a standalone track, maybe it would make more sense, but from a composition point of view, it poorly executed development.

The vocalist is a complete pleasure to listen to. On the track "Deathwatch," you hear this very dissonant melody that almost twists you into a pretzel before quickly resolving the tension. This kind of gentle giant-esque dissonance has mostly been discarded by contemporary prog bands due to its impracticality and lack of appeal, so kudos for experimenting with that.

"Pact," one of the better compositions in the album, has a long ambient section in the middle that doesn't feel forced. It places you in a trance before a forgettable stereo guitar harmonies fill the space with some Pink Floyd-esque vocal swells.

If you played this album alongside other prog albums from that era, I don't think I would notice much of a difference, other than a slightly better audio production. Which is both the advantage and disadvantage of this album. For anyone looking for a reverent piece of eclectic retro prog, this is your guy, but if you're hoping to hear something that pushes the genre to new frontiers, keep looking.

 Diagonal by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.06 | 240 ratings

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Diagonal
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The young lads from Brighton present a strong 70's prog inspired record proving that they have listened to enough works before creating theirs. There are pretty imaginative instrumental moments with various including brass section but mainly, it's keyboards and guitar playing that set the timestamp. The album is crunchy, easy to consume for a person used to prog and eager to get more of the traditional prog, on the other hand, it's hard to say what this band unique contribution to prog is based on. Vocals are the weakest element here but they are used sparsely. I want to highlight the good sound and aura of this band and hope that the band will pull of a more original and detail-oriented album in the future. A decent debut, nevertheless.
 4 by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.07 | 50 ratings

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4
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by Saimon

5 stars Review #4: 4

It's normal to be surprised at how little known a record that deserves so much more recognition can be, but this... completely blew me away. 4, Diagonal's fourth release (a bit obvious), is an eclectic prog album that fuses instruments like saxophone, percussion and complements them with pleasant vocals and rhythms that transport us to the 60's (adding some psychedelia and groove along the way).

Throughout the whole album different and interesting rhythmic breaks can be noted. The excellent saxophone does not go unnoticed in most of the songs, with melodies as soft as they are delicious. We also find influences in R&B Funk and Soul, for example at the beginning of "Spinning", with that bass and drums of the style accompanying, which then passes to a choral voice that in my opinion, is excellent.

Certainly there is also an air of CAN style Kautrock that many will notice, this is noticeable on "Stellate". The album ends with "Totem", my favourite track on the album, and a dreamy arpeggio melody that is progressively complemented by an angelic choir, saxophones, tambourines, etc (adding a spectacular guitar solo in the last few minutes).

Amon: 5/5

Chroma 4/5

Spinning Array 5/5

Stellate 4/5

Totem 4.5/5

5 stars, 9/10. Believe me, you must give this little gem a chance. It is so epic.

 4 by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.07 | 50 ratings

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4
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by RelayerFr

4 stars Two years passed after "Arc" and thirteen after their eponymous debut album. Regarding its fourth release, DIAGONAL wanted to keep it simple by introducing their last opus "4" as SOFT MACHINE and LED ZEPELLIN at their time. You don't change a winning team by taking over the same troop made up of the same six musicians. Formed in 2006, they started on stage in 2008 by hitting directly in the wood during like a seasoned and informed formation. Their music is inspired as always by the old guard, but without the dust on the shoulders, with this faculty to be able to apprehend practically all the styles and to diffuse richly appreciated compositions. Even if the structures evolve by focusing a little more on the guitars, the trends do not change and remain resolutely in a modernized psychelic of the sixties, completed by jazz / rock, post / rock space / rock accents with tints of krautrock and a hint of stoner. Some influences can be mentioned: GONG, HAWKIND, RIDE, THE SOFT MACHINE, RÖYKSOPP ... The cover is soberly illustrated and gives off a minimalist aspect, with a square in its center revealing a paradoxical optical illusion. We can all the same regret the somewhat short duration of the recording culminating at 36 minutes, the most succinct of their discography. Let's see more closely if the perfidious albion will be able to forget the new taxes collected by the postman ...

"Amon" is a tribute to the German group AMON DÜÜL II. This piece starts off strong with a slightly ramshackle guitar playing alone in stoner mode, taken up by a flamboyant sax and rhythmic as rarely heard. This introduction reminds me of a step forward with a voice that resolutely monopolizes the atmosphere and the scene, evoking a kind of intoxication traversing the great rock road which will only stop at the end of a fabulous road. trip. It's terribly catchy and jubilant, I love it! The continuation will be done by successive declinations and progressive decelerations to end on the electronic atmosphere and to extinguish, with for intermediary a bass / well cadenced drums, an omnipresent sax tuning to a voice which reminds me of that of the singer from NEKTAR, and synths galore. Licked melodies and arrangements which are in my opinion what is best done in the genre, a song which tends to become legendary! (10/10)

With "Chroma" DIAGONAL shows us his interest in jazz, this jazz which merges with modernized choirs like RÔYKSOPP on brassy and woody Latin rhythms with a Luke FOSTER who brushes his drums like a jazzman (8.5 / 10). "Spinning Array" opens with a funky rhythm section followed by syncopated vocals like RIDE, a post / rock alternative rock band. Long guitar lines, a synthetic bagpipe evoking the Scottish moors and intense and multicolored flutes will shine these monotonous but deep songs (8/10). "Stellate" is a pure space / rock product that burns through and through. With a sax which gives the [%*!#] to a vibrating guitar trying to pass above this haughty and noisy brass. The battle hardens, the guitar regains control by dint of perseverance not to let go until the end. A bass with stoner sensations will restore the six-stringed impulse like a rocket launched into space. By rolling your eyes to the sky, you will be able to perceive a guitar consuming a thousand lights and reach the high galactic spheres (9/10).

"Totem" begins with a monotonous and repetitive five-note guitar, generated by voices without words and a sax without much presence in a dreamy and vaporous atmosphere. A change takes place at 5:00 with a small pop melody nicely interpreted and accompanied by an electric jaw harp that ignites until more thirsty to finish in total dissonance like RIDE (9/10). DIAGONAL is overflowing with new ideas and has just taken a new turn by refocusing on the guitar to be more openly inspired by the influences of space / rock or even krautrock. "4" is an enthusiastic album which transmits and transmits an irresistibly contagious energy even if there is nothing to throw away, this opus could have been the album of the year if the five tracks had been of the same size as "Amon ". This title alone is worth the purchase of the vinyl.

 4 by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.07 | 50 ratings

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4
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions

4 stars Don't care much about an imaginative album title ... when your music is appealing ... simple as that. At least it's quite a subtle reference that we have the band's fourth album in consideration here. With every instance they are going for a more multi-dimensional attitude. Some significant trademarks are stable, let it be Alex Crispin's unmatchable vocal part for example, or the jazzy and partially Middle East flavoured wind instruments contributed by Nicholas Whittaker. This exemplarily proves the track Chroma. Line up and overall feel have remained over the course of time. Nevertheless they fortunately are trying to avoid standstill, always want to go further in composition and sound.

Thus being motivated by many positive reactions regarding the previous 'Arc' album the DIAGONAL crew intended to take advantage of the momentum, and went into the studio for some new recordings very soon. That's the main reason that it solely took a two year gap for a new one this time. A good move in any case. As for the global impression, on this occasion you will detect more psychedelic elements within the sound. Where the title taken for the opening song Amon actually appears as a reference to the German krautrock band Amon Düül II. Must admit, I (yet?) don't really can get it, this is a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless here we have a fine and typical DIAGONAL song, though featuring a rather kosmische ambient finishing anyhow.

And then the instrumental Stellate mutates to another excellent heavy psychedelic tinged tune, provided with a proper jamming attitude. The closing Totem makes the long track. Showcasing an extended relaxed period at first, underlaid with a looping guitar figure and ethereal vocals. But this is gradually evolving into a somewhat thunderous finale. 36 minutes playing time, eh, due to the extraordinary entertaining compositions that passes so quickly. Hopefully there will come more soon. Why not taking advantage of the positive flow again? On the other hand, if needed please take your time DIAGONAL, in order to offer something substantial once more. By the way, if this meets your taste, I strongly recommend to check out the side project BARON, headed by Crispin and drummer Luke Foster, soundwise a tad more mainstream rock oriented.

 Diagonal by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.06 | 240 ratings

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Diagonal
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars One of the modern wonders of retro prog, DIAGONAL got its start in Brighton, UK and has successfully recaptured that transition prog sound that existed roughly from 1969-71 when the 1960s psychedelic rock scene was undergoing an extreme makeover into the hard hitting heavy with the complexities full-on prog rock that peaked around 1972-73. While not one of the original revivers of all things 70s such as bands like Anglagard and Sinkadus that captured the first wave of revival prog, DIAGNONAL formed in 2006 and did its homework well before unleashing its self-titled debut onto the world in 2008.

For a retro band, DIAGONAL had a huge lineup with seven members and two guest musicians. On board were two guitarists, two keyboardists, a bassist, a percussionist and another member dedicated to wind instruments including the alto sax, clarinet, flute and recorder. Seems like everyone played some sort of additional percussion on this one and there were two guests who added even more synth sounds and trumpet. While retro prog of the 70s where a band basically gets a PHD in some particular time and place of music was nothing new, DIAGONAL are considered one of the best examples of taking a given sound that had all but been jettisoned and reformatted for the modern world.

As far as influences are involved, DIAGONAL was all over the map with this debut and it's impossible to call this band a clone in any way. Rather this band took all the best of the aforementioned era and threw it all together in a way that should have organically unfolded in the old days but for whatever reason was squashed in favor of rapidly changing musical tastes. While bands like Yes, Pink Floyd, ELP and Jethro Tull were hugely popular around 1971, they were by no means the only game in town and the prog scene was much larger and diverse and that's where DIAGONAL shine on their debut album, namely by taking the larger prog scene and melding it into one.

Not only can you hear the psychedelic years of Syd Barrett Pink Floyd in the mix but Yes inspired guitar workouts, frenetic Van der Graaf Generator freakery, Canterbury warmth a la Caravan and Soft Machine and the pastoral symphonic atmospheres of bands like Genesis and King Crimson's "Islands." The organ runs can bring bands like Atomic Rooster to mind and it all sounds even more authentic given the instrumentation utilizes the very same technology that was available around the 1971 timeline. In addition to some of the bigwigs of the era, lesser known influences include bands like Cressida, T2, Focus, Beggar's Opera, Traffic and more.

This DIAGONAL debut clocks in at an authentic vinyl LP running time which in this case is 46 1/2 minutes and features five strong tracks that corral all the tones, textures, timbres and songwriting techniques of the 1970-71 and offer extended variations that will please any modern connoisseurs of contemporary progressive music. Tracks range from the everything but the kitchen sink opener "Semi Permeable Men-Brain" which is like a smorgasbord of early British prog sounds to the overtly technical virtuosic performances of the fiery "Cannon Misfire." The closing track "Pact," the longest track on board that sprawls on for fourteen minutes delivers a trip into space with a purely ambient journey half way through. The tracks are all distinct from each other and even Alex Crispin's vocals sound like one of those Cressida type bands from those days.

I certainly have issues with many of the retro prog bands that have flooded the market since this album was released. Some are so authentically retro that they basically sound like clones. Such is not the case with DIAGONAL. This band did its homework for the basic framework and limitations that adhered to the timeline but as far as creativity is concerned this band crafted a bonafide beauty of an album that transcends any tagging or mere classification. This is just simply a beautiful album to absorb and ponder the possibility that this indeed was an archival release from 1971-ish. Perhaps the only issue i have is that Crispin's vocals aren't to my taste. I would have preferred a much more dynamic and charismatic style closer to either Jon Anderson or Peter Hammill but given a large chunk of this album is instrumental meandering, it doesn't really get any better in that department.

 4 by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.07 | 50 ratings

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4
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Ever since hearing their debut back when I first joined PA in 2008 I've been interested in this band--have collected and listened to their albums with great interest. While none have really lived up to the stunning of the debut, the band continues to explore its raunchy, dirty sound that seems to pay homage to the raw and minimally-processed/effected sounds of the bands from the 1960s that they seem to revere (the early "Krautrock" bands). This new album sees the band continue to explore and perfect that sound.

1. "Amon" (8:23) great sound engineering: dirty and raunchy where it's wanted (guitars and vocals), clear and distinct everywhere else, all recorded lovingly in a 1960s way. Nice groove with hand percussion supplementing the drums and a fantastic use of saxophone (an instrument I usually do not like). At the 5-minute mark we turn the speedometer down quite a bit for a hauntingly spacious organ and picked-guitar-supported vocal section which then turns into a synth-solo space soundscape at the end of the seventh minute--which plays out till the song's end. Unusual, almost odd song. (17/20)

2. "Chroma" (4:47) opens with a little weave that, when the saxes enter, remind me of Norway's SEVEN IMPALE. Choral vocalise is added in the second minute as saxes and bass repeat a riff over and over. Then, at the end of the second minute, there is a pause for a reset, after which the cohesive band reenters with a pleasant groove for a bit. Another break serves to allow another restart, this time in support of a sensitive sax solo--one that continues in the lead for the final two minutes while several continuous instrumental riffs are woven together behind. Nice (8.5/10)

3. "Spinning Array" (5:05) opens with bass line and drum play sounding like the start of some 1970s R&B-funk tune. The rest of the band joins in with vocals--doubled leads and background harmonizing tracks. Nothing exceptional here in terms of instrumental expositions other than some traditional sounding Celtic flutes and pipes. It's actually quite a simple arrangement but always interesting as instrumental and vocal licks sneak in and out of the listener's attention. I like it! (8.75/10)

4. "Stellate" (6:29) an instrumental with a Krautrock sound that is some of the most CAN-like stuff I've heard in years (though I also hear the foundational music for Annette Peacock's great "Real and Defined Androgens" as well as the bass and drum lines of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold"). The boys really groove here--like a long entrained expression of a drug trip. They are tight! Saxes and synths really feel like they're giving their full power to a fanfare-like royal procession. Guitar strays from his key rhythmic contribution to deliver some great little lead flourishes in the second half. Reminds me of Samsara Blues Project or Hypnos 69. The second best song on the album. (8.75/10)

5. "Totem" (11:47) opens with a gentle slow electric guitar arpeggio repeated over and over while other instruments slowly add their minimal support to the trance-inducing weave. Choral vocalise enters in the second minute with ethereal, angelic "aahs"; bluesy sax in the background in the fifth. At 5:10 we restart as a structured slow song with lyrics being sung as reflection of the guitar notes and, in the choruses, as more angelic chants--which then prompt the addition of multiple other voices in support as well as more spacey sounds (coming from guitar?) filling more of the background. This section reminds me so much of Prog Folk legends, MIDLAKE, and particularly their 2013 post-Tim Smith masterpiece, Antiphon. Great Neil Young-like guitar solo in the ninth minute. Great drumming. This section is drawn out a little longer than is really necessary--it could have been accomplished with the same effect in half the time, but it's still great. Best song on the album. More of this, please! (22.25/25)

Total Time 36:31

Though this isn't exceptionally difficult instrumental play--no Yes-like noodling or jazzy solos--the band members are all competent and confident on their instruments and they play so tightly! The music here just grows on you--I like it more with each listening. This is now my second favorite Diagonal album, just ahead of Arc.

B/four stars; though the album feels pretty short, it measures out the same as any single-disc vinyl album from the 1960s or 1970s. Recommended as an excellent addition to any prog lover's music.

 Arc by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.63 | 63 ratings

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Arc
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A band that I've been following since 2008 because of the promise they showed with their excellent self-titled debut of that year.

1. "9-Green" (6:22) sounds like old ROXY MUSIC, BRIAN ENO, and TALKING HEADS. Fun! I even hear a little THE MARS VOLTA with the middle instrumental/guitar solo section. (8.5/10)

2. "Stars Below" (2:46) sounds like the soft side of PINK FLOYD at the opening but then moves into a more folk domain as singer sings and alto sax joins in. I like this very much. My first top three song. (4.5/5)

3. "Citadel" (8:02) two notes from an organ oscillate for a few seconds before bass and drums join in. When singing enters it reminds me of US Prog Folk band, MIDLAKE. The chorus confirms this though I'm also now reminded of GHOSTS OF JUPITER. Sax fits in nicely toward the end. Excellent laid back song even if it does drag on a bit. A top three song for me. (13/15)

4. "The Spectrum Explodes" (4:32) opens with a fast-paced drum pattern (old style sound, i.e. no gated effects! Yea!) As the song develops I'm reminded of THE AMAZING, MICE ON STILTS, and THE MOODY BLUES. Aside from the synth solo and Tony Kaye-like organ work in the second half, this is a solid Folk Rock song in the vein of late 1960s Moodies. (9/10)

5. "Warning Flare" (6:13) opens with a slow keyboard arpeggio which is joined by drums, bass, jazzy guitar notes/chords and gentle sax all woven together into a smooth and surprisingly tight tapestry. Some BEACH BOYS-like singing enters well into the second minute and actually disrupts and disappoints--as does the searing blues/psych guitar solo that joins in in the third minute and remains active between the first three vocal verses. Then it goes solo acoustic guitar for a spell before the third vocal verse. With this accompaniment the choir vocals work much better. A far more interesting and complex song than one would have predicted based on the opening. Sax and synth weave their melody lines with the full band in the final minute. Nice! A top three song for me despite the weak first half. (8.75/10)

6. "Arc" (4:25) opens like the opening to PT's "Dark Matter" before synth and electric guitar join in to create their discordant psych melody. Suddenly, at the end of the first minute the tempo shifts as the multi-voice vocal enters. It turns into another completely surprising vocal-driven song for the next 90 seconds before instrumental passage gives way to synth, sax and electric guitar soli with a little tighter foundational weave in support of it all. The first song that doesn't really work for me. (7.75/10)

7. "The Vital" (7:38) opens with three minutes of slow, spacey organ play within which guitar, bass, and percussion interject sounds and notes before and as soprano saxophone enters to gently flit and fly about above the mix. The music never really changes as the saxophone continues its gentle exploratory flight. Nice for meditative relaxation though more of a New Age-y JAN GARBAREK piece than rock and roll. (12.5/15)

8. "Celestia" (4:34) opens with a fade in of a synth arpeggio which is then joined by drums, bass, and guitar before the Christoffer Gunrup-like voice joins in. Another prog folkie song evoking the late 1960s as well as THE AMAZING. The lead vocals get harmony support in the second verse and then Mellotron. Very nicely done. The foundational music begins to get a little stale in the third minute--just in time for all instruments but the 'tron to cut out while vocal harmonies sing on. This is, unfortunately, all too brief as the the frundational music from the opening returns to play out to the end. (8.25/10)

Total Time 44:32

An album that hit me with surprising force in its friendly, engaging, and familiar sound and styles; I enjoyed this album far more than I thought I was going to.

3.5 stars; nowhere near a masterpiece but a much more likeable and enjoyable listening experience than the ratings would indicate. Rated up accordingly. Check it out for yourselves!

 Arc by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.63 | 63 ratings

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Arc
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

2 stars From the acid-psych of the title song to the Simon-and-Garfunkel vibe of "Stars Below," Arc is an intriguing mix of late-1960s styles. 

I particularly appreciate the sunshine-y vocal arrangements, for instance, on "Celestia" and "Warning Flare." The first half of the latter is essentially a repeated two-chord sequence which is varied for the second half. The whole affair sounds like the Association teaming up with Procol Harum.

There are more recent influences as well; three minutes into its 4:30 runtime, "The Spectrum Explodes" becomes positively Yes-like. And on the overlong "9-Green," the lead vocalist sounds more than a little like Wang-Chung frontman Jack Hues imitating Talking-Heads frontman David Byrne. Plus, I hear an echo of King Crimson in the song's ending motif.

But influences alone a good album don't maketh. On Arc, Diagonal seems to take stabs at a series of compositional styles, but rarely has the quality material necessary to make such an eclectic mix work. For example, in addition to 1960s pop, the band tries out some prog-electronic ideas. The longest song here, "Citadel," is a slice of psychedelia set to a somewhat slow, repetitive pattern. It's pensive, and it's grown on me a bit. But the rhythmless, seven-plus-minute expanse of "The Vital" is just boring, especially so late in the running order, after the mostly unexciting songs which precede it.

To those interested in late 2010s "eclectic prog," I'd suggest Mad Fellaz III (Mad Fellaz, 2019), Le Bateleur (Alco Frisbass, 2018), or Decalogue of Darkness (Daal, 2018).

 Arc by DIAGONAL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.63 | 63 ratings

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Arc
Diagonal Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Diagonal is a Eclectic Prog band that started out in 2006 in the UK, released an album in 2008 and another in 2012, and then went on hiatus between 2013 ? 2018 to raise families and etc. In August of 2019, they came out of nowhere to release their 3rd albums "Arc". For a band that started out with 7 members, it is quite a feat to say that the band's line up has remained the same except minus one member. All 6 of the remaining members were with the band since the beginning; David Wileman (acoustic and electric guitars), Alex Crispin (organ, electric piano, vocals), Ross Hossack (synthesizer), Nicholas Whittaker (alto and soprano saxophones, vocals), Daniel Pomlett (bass), and Luke Foster (drums, percussion). "Arc" has 8 tracks and a total run time of just over 44 minutes.

In order for the band to "get back in the groove" of working together, they decided to try creating the album with a more spontaneous method, not spending so much time trying to get the perfect take. They holed themselves up in the studio for a week and spent that time composing, jamming and recording, focusing on nothing except music. The lyrics have taken what the band calls a "Jon Anderson approach" where they are mostly thematic, choosing words to fit the mood instead of telling a story.

The album starts instantly with a groovy beat on "9-Green" (6:22), which soon brings in the vocals that sounds similar to the male vocalist from "The Human League", but good enough, but have a nice level of vulnerability to them. The music is clean and feels free flowing, but it isn't what you could call straightforward either, as there is a strong progressive feel to it all. A unique sounding guitar solo comes in around 3 minutes, which continues even when the vocals start again. The music is relaxed and really does seem like it is very un-forced. During the last instrumental section, things take time to develop and intensify as the guitar continues, then it eventually calms back to the flowing style again.

"Stars Below" begins atmospheric with nice synths and keys and acoustic guitar. It's a very nice mix, again relaxed and free flowing. The melody from the vocals doesn't fall into anything really structured, it just seems devoid of any boundaries or borders. Short and nice, with shades of Canterbury Scene and a light jazz attitude.. "Citadel" (8:02) does follow a loose- structure of sorts, but at the same time, has a meandering attitude. The soft jazz/motorik feel really shines through on this one, relaxed and free floating. As the music slips into a soft psychedelic feel, you get a feel of "Can" or even some of "The Doors" softer jams. Later, the sax comes in with a more minimal foundation, but that soon returns. Instruments continue to take the spotlight as the music softly flows along with some excellent improvisation.

"The Spectrum Explodes" (4:32) has an upbeat tempo, but retains smooth synths with sustained chords and a more accessible melody. In the instrumental break, a sax introduces in a rousing guitar solo. The music sounds almost like a Moody Blues track in their later years. The beat and meter get a little more complex towards the end, but smooths out again for a organ and synth led ending. "Warning Flare" (6:13) slows things to a slow, moderate tempo, and returns to the mellow and relaxed style. Beginning with a floating intro with guitar and sax, the vocals later come in, and it all sounds a bit more Pink Floyd-ish, but with psychedelic, stoner guitars. Things calm down towards the middle until the track is mostly driven by acoustic guitars and soft organ with the vocals. An extended sax solo has the final spotlight of this track. The title track "Arc" (4:25) comes next. This one has a definite psychedelic feel to it, but gets more intense when the vocals come in with a tricky melody echoed by the guitar. Synths and sax share the solos on the instrumental break, followed by fuzzy guitar after.

"The Vital" (7:38) begins with an atmospheric organ and minimal soft guitar both improvising together. This time the band calls on their inner, early psych-Floydian spirit. Even the sax gets in on the mellow instrumental bliss-out. The somewhat ambient track just meanders along like a slow, wandering river, and also brings an inner peace to the spirit in the same way as the river does, evoking nature almost as well as anything by Paul Winter. Very nice, and quite unexpected actually. "Celestia" (4:34) ends the album with a soft and pensive song with more "Floydian" style, but with a repeating keyboard riff in the background.

This album seems to teeter on 3.5 star rating, but overall the band manages to tip the scales in their favor. The music is quite easy going with a relaxed flavor, even in the heavier moments. It seems the band was going for that style from the comments they made about having a sense of spontaneity without feeling stressed out about boundaries of time and such so much. The music is mostly quite relaxing, and yet it doesn't really get boring like you might think, however, in the first few listens, it might seem a bit same-y. But the music grows on you also, and with more listens, you will pick up subtleties that you didn't notice at first. It's a very nice album that mixes soft jazz, psychedelics and even some hints of Krautrock in places, plus it is a bit spacey at times. Very nice, but not really essential or excellent, but quite good nevertheless.

Thanks to rivertree for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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