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Argos - Unidentified Dying Objects CD (album) cover

UNIDENTIFIED DYING OBJECTS

Argos

 

Neo-Prog

3.86 | 95 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars It wouldn't be enough for German band Argos, formed by multi-instrumentalist Thomas Klarmann almost fifteen years ago, to merely ape the classic Seventies Genesis formula that so many symphonic and Neo Prog acts do. Argos go those extra steps further by properly embracing the storytelling flair and rich characters present in the words of that legendary group, and they're also not afraid to get a little loopy! A truly schizophrenic approach is laced to so much of their fifth album, 2018's `Unidentified Dying Objects', and the group take a retro symphonic sound and firmly root it in a modern setting (with a large dose of Canterbury jazz and inspiration from Van der Graaf Generator), with a wide range of rich vocal-driven passages in perfect unison with colourful instrumental journeys.

Opener `The Hunters Last Stand' unveils plenty of drama and urgency throughout its evocative storytelling lyrics, delivered with charismatic effect by way of Robert Gozon's commanding Peter Hammill/Peter Gabriel-esque croon. The band apply no shortage of reprising Hammond organ purrs and crisp electric guitar themes throughout, and The Tangent's keyboard player extraordinaire Andy Tillison plys slathers on all sorts of synth colour in some extended up-tempo instrumental sprints in the latter half. The infectious `Parade of Unpainted Dreams' has a sprightly Caravan-like spring in its playful step, a cheerful Canterbury-esque breeziness to its sparkling electric piano and lightly chugging guitars, and `Beneath The Valley Of Sleep' adds darker jazz textures and uneasy slinking grooves to its dream-like words.

There's a gently unnerving kookiness to `The Days Of Perky Pat' that lyrically captures the same comical imagery with darker edges as something like Genesis' `Return of the Giant Hogweed', and `Shockheaded Peter' has a similarly clipping spring in its step to the title track of their `A Trick of the Tail' LP from '76 without being simple imitation `Still Fighting Gravity' is predominantly an instrumental (save for a brief surreal vocal passage in the final moments) of creaky Mellotron, tastily gnarling guitars and fancy flute, and some electric piano tinkling, lively sax and fuzzy organs call to mind the Soft Machine. `Elsewhere' is then an elegant yet insistent ballad that will greatly appeal to fans of crossover-symph band Big Big Train.

Most prog albums should have a lengthy epic, and the near-nineteen minute, eight-part `When The Tide Comes In' not only doesn't disappoint. It's a broad mix of doomed gothic sophistication, reflective piano breaks, wild guitar aggression of heavier churning bursts and tranquil jazz interludes, and a science-fiction-themed deadly serious narration throughout is hilariously comedic! But it's the equally whimsical and dirty sax soloing, and Robert's embracing of his Hammill-esque demented superior snarl that will greatly appeal to Van der Graaf Generator fans - and miraculously the piece holds together with a cohesion and consistent flow.

It's perhaps not as instantly accessible as a great many parts of their superb previous disc `A Seasonal Affair', but that more obvious and immediately melodic approach has been replaced by a hugely satisfying depth, a complexity to little details and a daring unpredictability, making the album truly a case of musical split-personality! Add in alluring vocals, diverse instrumentation from some supremely skilled musicians and ambitious arrangements, and everything together contributes to `Unidentified Dying Objects' being Argos' defining musical masterwork to date.

Four stars - and bonus points for Bernd Webler's stunning artwork.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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