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Flamen Dialis - Symptome - Dei CD (album) cover


Flamen Dialis


Progressive Electronic

3.29 | 32 ratings

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3 stars Toys R' Us vs. Soundtrack of the Pharaoh

Unlike the 4 previous reviews I've done, this one is about a true original - it may even be the very definition of unique. Many say that Flamen Dialis' cult classic Symptome-Dei sounds like an electronic take on Magma, and while I partly agree with such a statement, it is only up to a certain point. Yes, you get a similar form of Teutonic music, a sonic experience bordering on devilish symphonic theatrics, but to me there is a far greater emphasis on old school psychedelics and avant garde touches. A meeting that takes place in ancient Egypt colouring everything in a mythical convoluted haze. I get images of pyramids, labyrinths, sandstorms, camels, flaming hieroglyphs, mummies, flying carpets and desert vipers flickering their tongues in a raspy entrancing manner - keeping the beat strangely cacophonous and wild.

If anything, this should be the wet dream of every mellotron fetishist out there. Symptome-Dei is a regular smorgasbord of wafting breezy emanations. They float around where ever you point your ears at, and stay with you throughout your mystical Egyptian journey. In many ways that mellotron is the main instigator here -it lays down a secure enveloping feel, giving off an almost embryonic touch to the music. Together with the tribal drumming that sounds like a true jungle tom feast - we are never far away from a certain Floydian vibe anno Saucerful of Secrets. Psychedelic, larval, hazy with the poise and grace of an inebriated Neanderthal. Yet here the parallels stop abruptly. Because circumventing everything to do with that ever so floating and soothing expression, is the torrential downpour of bizarre instrumentations. I am struggling here to find the right words for this amalgamation of insanity. Allright, maybe I'll just describe the first track that very aptly conveys the true feel of this album:

First of all you get those beautiful hovering sweeps of mellotron - they walk hand in hand with the tumultuous Nick Mason drums rightly pointing a finger towards Saucerful of Secrets. Right, no big surprise there. Then like a toddler in a suit - or a jolly trombone player at a funeral, - the plastic Toys R' Us synthesiser commences its deranged onslaught. DUIIIIDOOOO DIIIUUUUOOOHHH DIIIHHHH!!! First time I heard this, I broke down in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. It is that overwhelming and inappropriate. Continuing to frolic cacophonous all over the track - it changes pitch, weep and jerk like some mad mental patient who wants back Barbara Cartland's moustache. Then when you've finally come to terms with this strange concoction, a man that seems to have run the marathon prior to this short stint of his - goes berserk on a mouth harmonica in a Bob Dylan kind of way - completely out of breath and out of tune - adding just that ending cataclysmic stubborn clumsiness to a piece that already sports the elegance of an overweight gorilla trying out for Swan Lake...

Symptome-Dei is literally like that in every aspect. On one side you have the overly breezy nature of the mellotrons gently caressing you with sounds of floating feathers and lambskin rubdowns, and then on the other hand that pseudo avant toddler vibe throwing a fit every now and again.

'The fits' are handled by the aforementioned mouth harmonica, Toys R' Us synthesisers and an uncompromisingly childlike and abrasive sheep-heard flute that goes bananas from time to time. I guess this album probably wants to be taken seriously, but most of the time I feel rendered to a mad bizarro world that more than anything makes me chuckle my ass off. Take the wonderful track Eclosion for instance. Starting out with some of the most seductive and vibrant mellotron sways this album has to offer - conveying the same sort of simplicity and beauty you get from Genesis' Watcher of the Skies, - it then transforms completely with the arrival of an insane flute with nervous tendencies. It jumps, circles around in strange unforeseeable patterns that has nothing to do with its surroundings. Final result is that Eclosion ends up in a confused state of mind having thrown everything resembling form and melody straight out the window.

Hard to judge this one, but there are times when I really dig it - times I really get it and feel transported back to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs, and then there are occasions where I just get annoyed by all the inappropriate commotion........ Approach with caution, even if you only read 'Saucerful of Secrets' and 'mellotron'.

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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