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Phideaux - Chupacabras CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 277 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Hits all the right notes, makes the right sounds, checks all the boxes... but 'Chupacabras' is, along with FROST's offerings, the exemplar of prog without soul.

Possibly that's because it's composed of outtakes from previous recording sessions, and it must be difficult to breathe life into a piece of music you've moved on from. The substandard production may also have contributed: everything (but especially the vocals) is too far forward in the mix, making listening more difficult than it ought to be. The synths hiss, buzz and hum, masking much of the music. I long for some subtlety in the piano parts, the guitar parts, anything. But in the end an album stands or falls with the quality of its compositions, and at this point in their development PHIDEAUX simply didn't write music that captivates this listener. To my ears it all sounds drearily derivative.

The title track is perhaps the most interesting, and that only for the main theme and, after ten minutes of marking time, the excellent 'Get My Goat' section. Then it's back to soulless prog for much of the rest of the disc. 'Fortress of Sand' is completely pointless. The introduction to the suite of 'Ruffian' songs is promising, but the song swiftly descends into farce with the chief culprit Phideaux Xavier's spoken vocals. The end of the suite is little more than a jumbled mess, a train wreck. Special mention must be made of Xavier's voice: devoid of expression, it sounds more suited to one of those ironic 80s synth-pop bands than a contemporary neo-prog outfit. If you're writing and performing melodic prog you must have a voice to match! It's no wonder he enlisted Valerie Gracious to share the vocals, though her voice has little more expression than his. I would have preferred him to work hard on his voice in the way, say, STEVEN WILSON did, who turned a similarly expressionless voice into a major strength.

I'm happy to report that PHIDEAUX obviously learned from their mistakes, and subsequent serious releases (I don't count '313') are much improved. I understand my opinion is a minority dissenting voice, but I would counsel approaching this album with caution. The best that can be said about it is that it is a work in progress.

russellk | 2/5 |


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