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Diagonal - Diagonal CD (album) cover

DIAGONAL

Diagonal

 

Eclectic Prog

4.13 | 215 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars You'd never guess after hearing the first Diagonal album that it was recorded in 2008: the songwriting, arrangements, instrumentation, performance and production all combine to flawlessly recreate not just the sound but the spirit of the early 1970s.

They aren't, of course, the only group to have been directly influenced by the Progressive Rock stars of a bygone era. But there's a difference in their approach that sets Diagonal apart from other modern proggers living in the past. Instead of stealing ideas and sometimes actual riffs from Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant et al, these guys resemble one of those obscure second-tier bands who labored in the wake of their better-remembered role models, and whose only recorded LP is now a rare collector's item.

The results go beyond homage to become an act of witness, by young musicians with a functioning time machine stashed somewhere in their Brighton studio. From the distorted vintage organ chords in the album opener "Semi-Permeable Menbrain" (an awesome title, by the way) to the Mellotron-induced nirvana of the closing 14-minute "Pact", there isn't a single aesthetic misstep throughout its vinyl-era 46-minute length.

The occasional lead vocals, gently bathed in period reverb, are equally nostalgic: unquiet ghosts from an undead past. But the album is more than just a convincing anachronism; the music itself would be memorable even without the analog cosmetics. Listen to how the song "Child of the Thunder-Cloud" rises gradually from an acoustic piano and clarinet intro to a thrilling freak-out finale. Or the way in which the drifting Mellotron cloud in "Pact" finally condenses into a rousing twin-guitar anthem, before closing on a moment of unexpected grace.

Classic, but modern; heavy, yet delicate: this was a band living the dream firsthand, not just visiting in retrospect.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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