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Dice - Versus Without Versus - End Part CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 29 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars A quick glance at the track list of this, the final installment of the "Within/Without" trilogy, suggests that DICE has herein forsaken the relatively simple and direct themes of Part 2 for a more involved approach. While this inference is based on track lengths, none of which (apart from the final reprise of the trilogy theme) clocks in much below 10 minutes, in reality the overall sound of the group has not changed much. Even the addition of skilled flute/sax player Jens Lubeck merely colours the generally mellow and rich space rock, adding perhaps half a dimension to their sound rather than engendering a sea change.

The anchor for this ambitious undertaking is the 23 minute "Hold the Spirit", which offers so much more than quantity. While I personally have been convinced of the group's skill and adventurousness, this track has the capacity to silence those more demanding listeners. It giddily floats from vocal theme to instrumental theme, using hooks to enhance rather than signify its pedigree, nearly establishing a genre in the process. More than anything in the DICE discography, "Hold the Spirit" sets the group apart in progressive rock for their own style and for their beguiling range of influences both modern and classic. The flute dominated section in the latter part is particularly worthy of mention for its dancing quality, and Alex Klimentov, dedicated to the use of acoustic guitar, adds a more organic quality to some of the relaxed atmospheres.

The album's opener "Who Inflames the Universe Tonight", is a more typical offering but includes fine sax and mellotron. As we have heard before from DICE, we can detect a certain gentle swing like affect. The Moody Blues' "The Other Side of Life" might be a good comparison as a starting point, although here we find much more expansive soloing by the returning Peter Viertel. "Secret Sun" is another fine wind-enhanced song with the most catchy chorus but also cool diversions that remind me of circus music, and Nove's talking on tune style. Both Viertel and Nove (who now handles keyboards and bass), shine in their melodic soloing to set the spine a tingling. Nove seems to deploy the mellotron heavily as a background for fluid guitars and flutes. While "When Darkness Comes" is somewhat less captivating, the final curtain on the main theme manages to impress more than usual perhaps because it is slowed down and some plaintive brass is added.

Not much to complain about here. While the first installment of the trilogy had me worried that the group was going to fold into the neo prog morasse, I needn't have been concerned. Right now, I wouldn't want to pit anyone else versus Christian Nove's group.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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