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Dredg - El Cielo CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.07 | 269 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Finding El Cielo was like discovering a diamond ring on a beach. I spotted it adjacent to Dream Theater in a brick and mortar store where I was browsing, and merely recognized the album artwork from the top 20 crossover chart. Noting the price of $5.99, I scooped it up and made way to the checkout counter, excited for my inexpensive find. I am still excited for it. After one listen, I felt the urgent need to hear it again the next day (something unusual with respect to my listening habits). After the second, I set the CD elsewhere in my home, but my mind couldn't abandon it, even temporarily. Upon seeing it, I felt a greedy compulsion welling up within me, so I snatched up the disc and relieved myself of my thirst for euphoria. At many turns, this album reminds me of Incubus or Red Hot Chili Peppers, both bands I enjoy. The musical lucidity is remarkable, even as the group introduces listeners to fresh and unforgettable melodies in every track. The loose concept of the album regards the medical phenomenon of sleep paralysis; indeed, in lieu of liner notes, there are actual letters from sufferers of the condition. The spoken word throughout are excepts from those missives. This record is highly recommended, but be warned: The melodies, hooks, and instrumental themes may very well be resonating after just one listen, leading to possible abuse of this album!

"Brushstroke: Dcbtfoabaaposba" This short "brushstroke" consists of scribbling noises and strange synthetic sounds. The strange title is an abbreviation of the painting by Salvador Dali that inspired the album: Dream Caused by a Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening.

"Same Ol' Road" Straightforward bass and drums begin the first song. From the first time I heard that clean guitar introduce itself alongside the soft male vocals, I felt I was in for a real treat- I was not mistaken.

"Sanzen" Exquisite, delicate, and yet powerful, this song has something of an Incubus feel, with washes of various guitar-produced sounds. The chorus is perhaps the most memorable and most powerful moment of the album (although there are an array of them sprinkled throughout). When the music isn't smart rock, it's atmospheric, beautiful, jazzy, or any combination of those adjectives.

"Brushstroke: New Heart Shadow" This is a short, instrumental that makes me think of moments from the album Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"Triangle" Distant drums and soft synthesizer begin this excellent song. The lyrics are exceedingly powerful observations about life's little ironies: "Watch it explode, while it's not impossible for flowers to bloom and grow next to graves and babies are born in the same buildings where people go to pass away." Musically, a couple of themes make an appearance here.

"Sorry But It's Over" Acoustic and clean guitar play an imaginative riff under somewhat somber vocals. The heavier chorus retains soft vocals, and haunting sounds are incorporated into the mix. This is a terrific piece that rivals similar songs from bands like Porcupine Tree.

"Convalescent" Yet another progressive pop homerun, blending both a catchy series of verses and a chorus with gritty guitar and clever instrumentation. The ending is almost self-depreciatingly funny.

"Brushstroke: Walk in the Park" This is a delicate interlude played on piano and strings- simply gorgeous.

"Eighteen People Living in Harmony" A grating guitar rubs against otherwise gentle instrumentation During an intensely soft passage in the middle brings back the scratching from the first track. Atonal squealing from the violin takes over at the end.

"Scissor Lock" Again, the lead singer offers an elegant melody, this time over soft yet upbeat music.

"Brushstroke: (Reprise)" A basic beat and unadorned keyboard is the foundation for this reprise of (despite the title), "Same Ol' Road." The second half has slide and acoustic guitars, in a way reminiscent of the section "Soon" from Yes's "The Gates of Delirium."

"Of the Room" A musical motif from "Triangle" returns here in full form and as part of a full song. Vocally, this is a powerful track, and it features some lovely ornamental guitar.

"Brushstroke: An Elephant in the Delta Waves" An unexpected Middle Eastern-sounding interlude, there's a female vocal here that's nothing less than breathtaking.

"It Only Took a Day" Here is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, swamped with distorted guitar and thick drums, but the vocals rise cleanly and sweetly above it. The instrumental section is indicative of the band's penchant for terse versatility.

"Whoa Is Me" Peaceful guitars make up the verses, and the chorus typical heavy rock. For the jazzy section at the end, there is a delicacy of placid saxophone and soothing piano. A "radio announcer" at the end talks about the piece being inspired by lucid dreaming ("The clarity of consciousness rather than the vividness of the dream"), an important aspect given the concept of the album.

"Canyon Behind Her" The final track is a stellar one, with glorious vocals and vigorous instrumentation throughout. Beautiful choral singing concludes this wonderful album.

Epignosis | 5/5 |


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