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Alternativ Quartet - Aripi CD (album) cover


Alternativ Quartet

Eclectic Prog

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3 stars Surfing these Archives is like taking an armchair musical package tour around the world: if it's Tuesday, this must be Romania. And like any trip abroad it's always more rewarding when you step off the beaten path, in this case with an Eastern European quartet playing a style of twin-guitar rock not too far removed (in spirit, more than actual practice) from the heavy sound of RUSH or PORCUPINE TREE.

The band's 2010 debut album was a confident first step. But this follow-up shows signs of compositional fatigue, as if the quartet had to work twice as hard to achieve the same worthwhile results. You won't find any fault in the playing, still as sharp the second time around, and anchored as before by the crystalline baritone of a lead singer resembling Eddy Vedder on a Carpathian vacation. But the effort is sometimes audible in the songwriting: these eleven selections might have been leftovers from the earlier session, reheated and served up as a fresh meal.

The inscrutably titled 'Uite Pe Ce Calc' is a thrilling exception. And the band finally regains its stride late in the album, from the swelling quasi-orchestral chords of 'Carne Vie' toward a final pair of songs comparing favorably to the ethereal metal of Steve Wilson at his most assertive. The first album included a track named with the mathematic symbol for pi; this one ends with the even more cryptic '6582738073'...more random digits from the same irrational number?

Once again the album was self-produced (and self-released, as a freebie on the band's currently dormant web site), but the quality is superb. Singing in their native-born tongue might deny them the larger audience they certainly deserve, but this is a group with the sound of an international sensation, minus only the encouragement that comes with wider exposure.

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Posted Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Review Permalink

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