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Tantalus - Lumen Et Caligo - I CD (album) cover

LUMEN ET CALIGO - I

Tantalus

 

Prog Related

3.92 | 24 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Regardless how anyone may wish to slice and dice this unique recording, truth is Tantalus has pretty much a classic neo style that incorporates glory day progisms with some extremely modern touches, nothing more apparent than vocalist Bob Leek's seductive voice (very similar in tone to 80's UK synth pop Naked Eyes' lead singer Peter Byrne). The paucity of decent vocalists is prog's bane but Leek has an extraordinary set of pipes that are instantly appealing, making this perhaps one of the all-time greatest "neo" recordings ever, on par with the best from Collage, Satellite, IQ, Pendragon, Galahad, etc.Every song is a scintillating example of tuneful songcraft, ideal when in the need for some progressive candy as opposed to the heavy technical meat & potatoes we all regularly feast on. The keyboards are swirling affairs in the hands of husband & wife team of Max & Geraldine Hunt, with plenty of pretty piano flourishes, chugging organ runs and some flashy synthesizer solos. The fretwork is expertly handled by Nick Beere, who rings out inspired leads when the material needs an exclamation point. Jason Tilbrook keeps a steady pace as well as contributing dulcimer, mandolin, mandola & balalaika while Tony Wells smacks some forceful beats out of his kit. The songs are extended mid-tempo melodious affairs that exude a whimsical charm that grabs immediately, huge melodies heavily slanting towards the romantic but chock full of simply brilliant passages or instrumental solos that really hit the mark. The first three songs are instant jewels: "While There's Still Time" opens with a convincing presentation of all the band's attributes clearly displayed, fascinating group work and a huge melody. "Eyes" is a memorable hook-laden piece with supreme vocal delivery and a guitar solo that really swerves into some passionate areas. The fabulous vocal work continues on "Raining on the Parade", with a well crafted tortuous guitar solo that leaves goose bumps around the earphones, followed by a driving gallop that leaves no stone unturned. "Harp Dance/Dig the Sod" provides an instrumental interlude that leans heavily on Celtic/folk traditions with Geraldine's recorder work leading the way, a phosphorous Beere solo flings this into Andy Latimer territory with a gut wrenching performance, in unison with the grandiose theme a definite and somewhat unexpected album highlight. There is no relenting as "Finger Painting" quickly inspires awe, an intensely brooding piece that is immediately mesmerizing, with a thick muffled beat, a dignified yet angst-laden chorus that sears the brain, conducted by a huge wailing voice and another 6 string bleeding that flows savagely, synthesizers wildly dancing in the background, just like a painting! "On Dr. Syntax's Head" carpets some heavier sonic snippets, a seemingly more histrionic arrangement with purring synths and some decidedly adventurous soloing from Nick, full of furious and stormy notes, timbres and shrieks. An acoustic guitar instrumental brings some brief relief, as if to prepare the last leg towards home, again unexpected and yet most welcome tranquility. The album's absolute peak is reached with the next instrumental, the ravishing 9 and a half minute "Route 36 Part 2", a classic electric guitar prog étude that rivals anything by the masters, hinting at the heavenly heights of Hackett's "Spectral Mornings", with massive keyboard interventions, as well as sultry mandolin encouragements, both setting the table for Beere's mania axe to repeatedly soar deep into the ionosphere! Some devastating choir mellotron then launches another unbearable dripping solo. The melancholic "Dancing on Eggshells" is probably the most immediate track here, with the overt Naked Eyes vocal exuding warmth that just can't be shaken. Beere goes crazy again with a blistering showcase, (who is this guy?). "Hearts & Minds" has the guitarist singing, a breezy affair somehow closer to Mostly Autumn than anything else, plied with great piano and moog work until the fretmeister lets another run out of his rather large bag. "Black Dream" is a cover version of brit Nick James 1972 song, unknown to this reviewer, so I cannot say whether an improvement or not but it does sounds like a typical rock song from that era. A pretty good piece with the by now obligatory fiery guitar solo (a damn good one to boot!) closes out this near perfect monument. Tantalizing 4.5 beeres
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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