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Nick Magnus - N'monix CD (album) cover

N'MONIX

Nick Magnus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.84 | 75 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nick Magnus returns with a crafty follow-up to his 2 last successful albums, 2004's "Hexameron" and 2010's "Children of a Lesser God", the oddly titled "N'Monix". The recipe has not changed one iota, still a lovely collection of Gabriel-era material, fully loaded with mounds and mounds of Banksian mellotron/organ/piano/synth flourishes, some spicy Steve Hackett cameo appearances (is there anyone in prog busier than the Cured Defector?) and a cast of lead singers such as stalwarts Tony Patterson and Peter Hicks , as well as a cameo appearance by Tim Bowness (No-Man fame) and again, according to tradition (Siobhan McCarthy of "Sophia's Song", Linda John-Pierre on "the Others"), Magnus includes the scintillating operatic soprano of Kate Faber on the Gregorian "Memory" , a piece that will have you see angels in flight, whether you are a vampire or not. The crackling fragility blends with authorative power to completely encircle the senses and render one helpless.

As per his formula, the album opens with a glittering symphonic piece, "Time", a slowly developing maelstrom of sound and effects, bullying forward in a very choppy Genesis style, a smoking mellotron blazing a classic Tony Patterson sung theme, this is damn delicious! This could easily have been a song off an early Genesis album, without even a hint of doubt. Euphoric, bruising, clanging, massive and pastoral, all rolled into one. A modern/historic video game soundtrack is to be found on the galloping "Kombat Kid", at least until the vocals come in and the veer into Genesisian landscapes becomes ultra-obvious. Patterson again leads his subtle voice to the mix, depicting the gallant story of Richard III, whose recently found grave caused quite a stir in historical circles (yeah and the Net, too), the lyrics are quite clever, a twist that will rekindle fond memories of progressive giants past.

Each album has a slight weak link, strangely generally always sung by Magnus himself, such as the wonky urban schmooze of "Headcase", which does have some rather nice synth and bass lines. There is a kind of Supertramp meets the Tangent feel, I guess. No big deal, because the next four tracks are just plain splendid. "Eminent Victorians" combines that playful 70s British story-telling prog style (a la "Harrold the Barrel" and "the Battle of Epping Forest"), led by Peter Hicks, experienced voice, followed by some superlative guitar licks, courtesy of the Hackett man. Unusually complex and breathtaking, his glistening glide is just plain sublime.

The epic "Broken" is most definitely the highlight track here, a smoky and seductive Tim Bowness (owner of the most immediately recognizable voice in prog) doing what he does so very well: emote convincingly! The enchanting lyrics by Mr Dick Foster are to be commended, both very clever and creatively obscure. Rob Townsend performs a sultry sax solo that will please the brassy crowd. A masterpiece to say the least, fueled by a lovely piano etude. The altogether way too brief instrumental "Shadowland" has Steve Hackett caressing his guitar with masterful intrigue, Magnus' choir mellotron in desperate tow, a thoroughly mesmerizing slice of electric pleasure. It's so gorgeous, you may want to cry.

The cinema show soundtrack "Entropy" closes out the disc in sandwich style, reprising the "Time" melodic theme. The lush guitar sounds are not Steve's but emanate from Nick's bag of ivory trickery, and showcases new singer hitherto unknown James Reeves, who does a masterful job on the microphone. Magnus' guitar patch sound is both raw and crystalline, searing into the marrow of the theme with impunity.

Another successful canon in the symphonic prog catalog, nothing earth shattering but super dependable and rock solid. This is entertainment, mate!

4 measures of disorder

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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