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Diagonal - 4 CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.06 | 58 ratings

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4 stars Ever since hearing their debut back when I first joined PA in 2008 I've been interested in this band--have collected and listened to their albums with great interest. While none have really lived up to the stunning of the debut, the band continues to explore its raunchy, dirty sound that seems to pay homage to the raw and minimally-processed/effected sounds of the bands from the 1960s that they seem to revere (the early "Krautrock" bands). This new album sees the band continue to explore and perfect that sound.

1. "Amon" (8:23) great sound engineering: dirty and raunchy where it's wanted (guitars and vocals), clear and distinct everywhere else, all recorded lovingly in a 1960s way. Nice groove with hand percussion supplementing the drums and a fantastic use of saxophone (an instrument I usually do not like). At the 5-minute mark we turn the speedometer down quite a bit for a hauntingly spacious organ and picked-guitar-supported vocal section which then turns into a synth-solo space soundscape at the end of the seventh minute--which plays out till the song's end. Unusual, almost odd song. (17/20)

2. "Chroma" (4:47) opens with a little weave that, when the saxes enter, remind me of Norway's SEVEN IMPALE. Choral vocalise is added in the second minute as saxes and bass repeat a riff over and over. Then, at the end of the second minute, there is a pause for a reset, after which the cohesive band reenters with a pleasant groove for a bit. Another break serves to allow another restart, this time in support of a sensitive sax solo--one that continues in the lead for the final two minutes while several continuous instrumental riffs are woven together behind. Nice (8.5/10)

3. "Spinning Array" (5:05) opens with bass line and drum play sounding like the start of some 1970s R&B-funk tune. The rest of the band joins in with vocals--doubled leads and background harmonizing tracks. Nothing exceptional here in terms of instrumental expositions other than some traditional sounding Celtic flutes and pipes. It's actually quite a simple arrangement but always interesting as instrumental and vocal licks sneak in and out of the listener's attention. I like it! (8.75/10)

4. "Stellate" (6:29) an instrumental with a Krautrock sound that is some of the most CAN-like stuff I've heard in years (though I also hear the foundational music for Annette Peacock's great "Real and Defined Androgens" as well as the bass and drum lines of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold"). The boys really groove here--like a long entrained expression of a drug trip. They are tight! Saxes and synths really feel like they're giving their full power to a fanfare-like royal procession. Guitar strays from his key rhythmic contribution to deliver some great little lead flourishes in the second half. Reminds me of Samsara Blues Project or Hypnos 69. The second best song on the album. (8.75/10)

5. "Totem" (11:47) opens with a gentle slow electric guitar arpeggio repeated over and over while other instruments slowly add their minimal support to the trance-inducing weave. Choral vocalise enters in the second minute with ethereal, angelic "aahs"; bluesy sax in the background in the fifth. At 5:10 we restart as a structured slow song with lyrics being sung as reflection of the guitar notes and, in the choruses, as more angelic chants--which then prompt the addition of multiple other voices in support as well as more spacey sounds (coming from guitar?) filling more of the background. This section reminds me so much of Prog Folk legends, MIDLAKE, and particularly their 2013 post-Tim Smith masterpiece, Antiphon. Great Neil Young-like guitar solo in the ninth minute. Great drumming. This section is drawn out a little longer than is really necessary--it could have been accomplished with the same effect in half the time, but it's still great. Best song on the album. More of this, please! (22.25/25)

Total Time 36:31

Though this isn't exceptionally difficult instrumental play--no Yes-like noodling or jazzy solos--the band members are all competent and confident on their instruments and they play so tightly! The music here just grows on you--I like it more with each listening. This is now my second favorite Diagonal album, just ahead of Arc.

B/four stars; though the album feels pretty short, it measures out the same as any single-disc vinyl album from the 1960s or 1970s. Recommended as an excellent addition to any prog lover's music.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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