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Diagonal - Arc CD (album) cover

ARC

Diagonal

 

Eclectic Prog

3.66 | 56 ratings

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prog_traveller!!
4 stars Absent from the recording scene for seven years, Diagonal is an English progressive-rock group that has conquered fans of the genre with just two albums. For Brighton boys Alex Crispin, Luke Foster, Ross Hossack, Nicholas Whittaker and David Wileman, and the newfound Daniel Pomlett, now is the time to resume the interrupted dialogue.

While remaining faithful to a sound halfway between Gentle Giant and Caravan, the six musicians have come up with a sonic blend that includes not only progressive, kraut-rock and jazz, but also psychedelic, folk and post-rock. For the second album ("The Second Mechanism", 2012) Alex Crispin had even sacrificed his role as a singer, but after the instrumental hangover, Diagonal return to rely on the indisputable charm of his voice, often similar to that of Peter Bardens of the Camel.

"Arc" is the most malleable and velvety record of the band, but no less effective and intelligent. Organ, piano and sax unfold in a skilful and inventive way on a rhythmic fabric that is sometimes articulated and dynamic, in some other more mechanical and fluid juncture. It is in the title track that the band condenses skill and harmonic invention, between gritty guitar fuzz, King Crimson rhythmic tempos, short sax and keyboard interventions and a singular harmonic refrain that suggests evolutions and solos destined for incendiary live performances.

The introductory notes of "Arc" are also entrusted to an articulated funk-rock that slowly slips into the arms of intense guitar solos ("9-Green"), a perfect sonic canvas useful for appreciating the rhythmic and harmonic balance of the band. The pattern is repeated in the even more lively "The Spectrum Explodes", between progressive flows immersed in sounds now jazz-rock, now hard-rock.

Smoother, but equally decisive, the instrumental evolutions of "Citadel", with keyboards and guitar that introduce the singing, and then leave everything in the hands of a delightful multi-voice dialogue where the protagonists are a vintage organ, the sax and a guitar in Pink floyd style. Unfortunately, the enchantment is not repeated in the more indolent "The Vital", even if the whisper of the sax that extends over the little dynamic notes of the keyboards has its own unusual charm.

Originality is certainly not the distinctive character of the Diagonal proposal, but the balance between the stylistic elements is always refined and stimulating, even when the tones are even introspective and melancholy. And this is what happens in the more folk ballad like Gentle Giant, "Stars Below", and in the more ethereal "Celestia", which with its enveloping and dynamic harmonic progressions on the edge of jazz elegantly closes a record that will not disappoint fans of prog-rock.

prog_traveller!! | 4/5 |

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