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Phideaux - Number Seven CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.03 | 545 ratings

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5 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

Number Seven by Phideaux is fantastic!

Ok, I'll admit, I was only somewhat anticipating "Number Seven"; IQ and Dream Theater were both coming out with new albums, and that was really where my heart was. I knew that Phideaux was coming out with one as well as Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Satellite and so on. There were a bunch of great albums coming out. In addition, I generally love the big sprawling albums or series of albums. I was less than enthused about an album being released between the trilogy compromised of "The Great Leap", "Doomsday Afternoon" and . . . well, the third one. My thought was, 'come on Phideaux, get on with the trilogy, why release an album from the bits that didn't make the trilogy.'

I was going to get around to getting it someday, then the thread was started on the Prog Archives, of course I followed along with that with some interest. Every one who listened to the CD apparently loved it. The excitement was growing and growing. Finally, I bit.

My goodness what a masterpiece this album is.

Before I go any further, a general comment on the sound quality; this does not sound like an independent self-produced CD, no it sounds more professional than several of the label releases that I've heard this year. Kudos to the sound team. The vocal mix is wonderful, just the right amount of effects and none of the over compression that I've been hearing in prog lately. Furthermore, the band as a whole is very good with the tone of their instruments. One of my reoccurring concerns, that of the choice of keyboard patches, is addressed beautifully in this album. Nothing sounds out of place.

The CD starts out with the beautiful "Doormouse: A Theme" a beautiful acoustic guitar piece introducing the Doormouse theme, a musical passage that will be heard again throughout the CD. This is followed in short order by "Waiting For the Axe to Fall", which introduces the second reoccurring theme, what I refer to as 'the axe theme'. "Waiting For the Axe to Fall" brings the full band into the picture. The combination of Phideaux Xavier and the ladies harmonies hearkens to the vocal arrangements of "Pure Reason Revolution", eerily beautiful and further augmented by the subdued piano of the axe theme.

"Hive Mind", "The Claws of a Crayfish" and "My Sleeping Slave" complete the "Doormouse Ensnared" cycle beautifully, keep an ear out for the reoccurrence of the Axe theme adding a wonderful touch to the end of "My Sleeping Slave". Again, everything sounds fantastic.

"Darkness at Noon" and "Prequiem" start the second cycle, the "Doormouse Escapes" cycle, both pieces show off more of Phideaux's acoustic brilliance. "Gift of Flame" adds a little tension to the mix before a batch of clavinets that would make Stevie Wonder proud. "Gift of the Flame" then does a little seventies prog tour with passages that are reminiscent of Genesis' "The Knife", a bit of Tull and some Crimson sounding saxes.

My only, very small, complaint for the entire CD lies with "Interview With a Doormouse". It's another very mellow and laid back acoustic interlude with the lyric, "Doormouse Doormouse, have you any cheese or, did it melt in the thermonuclear cheese?" While it's an ironically funny line, and a wonderful one at that, it's just a syllable too long (at least in the way it's sung) for the passage. It sounds just a little rushed and slightly detracts from the passage. Hey, I can only complain about one syllable in the whole album . . . and, remember, I like to nit pick . . .

The actual song, "Thermonuclear Cheese" starts off with an amusingly quirky chorus singing the lone lyric of the song. Fun passage.

"The Search for Terrestrial Life" is another great piece and a good point to bring up an additional highlight. Mr. Xavier has beautiful voice, almost pristine at times. This song shows a more gritty quality to his voice and wow, it sounds even better. "A Fistful of Fortitude" is almost Mamma's and Pappa's-esque, but works as a great ending to the Escape cycle.

"Doormouse Enlightened" starts with "The Love Theme from Number Seven"; major points for the name of this piece alone. Again, all of the instrumentation is wonderful in this instrumental. This is a wonderful example of a band playing together. You could argue that none of the musicians stand out in this piece, but I'd counter that with the argument that they blend together so cohesively. It's not a case of one member trying to outshine the next; it's a band in its truest form. Every note sounds like it's supposed to be there for the sake of the song, not for the sake of the musician.

"Storia Senti" is a great piece, after the first two minutes, one of my favorite and most catchy parts of the CD shines through. There's a bouncy happy bit, complete with sixty's sounding vocalizations, happy noises rather than actual vocals. It's a really fun bit leading to a spaghetti western ending. Well done.

"Infinite Supply" is a decent closer though somewhat nondescript musically; lyrically, it delivers the moral of the story (I think, still a little fuzzy on some of the lyrics". While "Doormouse ? An End" revisits the dormouse theme one last time and asks a final, cryptic question.

All in all, this is an amazing album, Phideaux' best of the ones that I've heard. I've no problem giving this one a full five star rating. Don't miss this one.

Roland113 | 5/5 |


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