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Phideaux Number Seven album cover
4.03 | 596 ratings | 42 reviews | 40% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dormouse - A Theme (1:05)
2. Waiting for the Axe to Fall (6:12)
3. Hive Mind (4:00)
4. The Claws of a Crayfish (5:40)
5. My Sleeping Slave (3:27)
6. Darkness at Noon (1:50)
7. Prequiem (2:10)
8. Gift of the Flame (6:10)
9. Interview with a Dormouse (1:10)
10. Thermonuclear Cheese (2:10)
11. The Search for Terrestrial Life (5:30)
12. A Fistful of Fortitude (2:44)
13. Love Theme from "Number Seven" (7:30)
14. Storia Senti (6:50)
15. Infinite Supply (5:05)
16. Dormouse - An End (2:00)

Total Time 63:33

Line-up / Musicians

- Ariel Farber / vocals, violin
- Valerie Gracious / vocals
- Linda Ruttan / vocals
- Molly Ruttan / vocals, percussion
- Phideaux Xavier / acoustic guitar, electric 12-string guitar, piano, vocals
- Gabriel Moffat / lap steel & electric guitars, producer
- Mark Sherkus / keyboards
- Johnny Unicorn / keyboards, saxophone, vocals
- Mathew Kennedy / electric bass
- Rich Hutchins / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Linda Ruttan

CD Bloodfish Music ‎- zyz-007 (2009, US)
CD Bloodfish Music ‎- zyz-007 (2010, US) Remastered with several tracks recombined into longer ones

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy PHIDEAUX Number Seven Music

PHIDEAUX Number Seven ratings distribution

(596 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(40%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

PHIDEAUX Number Seven reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Roland113
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Menswear
5 stars Pronounced 'Fih-Do'.

My trembling hands are tearing up the cellophane enveloppe, I gaze at the fun artwork for an instant. I see a dormouse and a crawfish preparing for battle and I think:' Tarkus concept.' I pop it in, and I'm flabbergasted, yet. Next track. Again, such application in finding the right melody and yet no sign of aggressivity or crunchy guitars. Next track. Heavens be praised, another miracle.

Oh, Lord. How can someone create such exquisite and coherent masterpieces two albums in a row? I mean, don't he run out of ideas once in a while? The songs are so rich in textures of piano, violin or creative keyboard lines, everything is in perfect place. The words are missing to tell you how much I simply cannot live without that album now.

Doomsday Afternoon transported us in a world where Pink Floyd and the Beatles are caping together, where the end of the world scared and fascinated us altogether. Number Seven is propulsing you into another post-pythagorian world of animal battles, global pollution and thermonuclear cheeses. Lots of winks to many prog heroes can be heard: Pink Floyd, VDGG, Jethro Tull (Passion Play saxes) and even many Italian progressive acts like Le Orme or Rovescio della Megdalia.

No avalanche of mellotrons, no heavy guitars, no howling vocals and in these harsh times of progressive metal, it feels like heaven to hear some very intelligent material.

I strongly recommend, no, I command you to listen and make your own idea. But for me, I'm over the moon with it.

This is true symphonic rock, 100% growling free and probably THE best album of 2009.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
5 stars Divinity, expressiveness, completeness, sensuality and depth!!!

As a preface I'll begin with the moment of the release of this album - the end of the 00s or 2009. The progressive rock music is close to another peak at its creativeness after the late 70s. So I want to be a good prophet, when I say the 10s will be the revival of the most accomplished works of progressive rock. The preparation for this began probably somewhere in 2006 with a lot of creativeness in all consecutive years after that - 2007, 2008, 2009.

One of the most authentic proof about my above words is the newest album by Phideaux called Number Seven. This remarkable work of art is strong and true candidate of best album for 2009 and valued candidate of greatest crossover prog album of all time (in our PA sub-genre division) as well. Number Seven is a perfect blend of classic art rock with fibres of celtic folklore, country music, classical music and psychedelia. Everything is combined very mature. For example, melancholic and cheerful moments goes hand-in- hand perfectly.

Phideaux's Number Seven is very similar and strongly reminds me to some preceding artists like Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield (my favourites). So, of course, it's highly recommended to all the fans of Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield. Where exactly the similarity is? The similarity with Pink Floyd could be found in some very elegant psychedelic moments, the way of structuring of all harmony back vocals, crystal guitar solos, the slow precise drumming and bass playing styles at the beginning of ideological part or shifting the tempo at the middle, and, of course, some acoustic moments including the male vocals. The similarity with Mike Oldfield could be found mostly in specific crossover-typed structure with returning and repeating motifs and mainly in celtic-oriented folklore music, but I should not forget the female vocals, which are very close.

And now it's time for the most important part of my review - the structure of the album. Yeah, it's the most important part for any crossover prog album, because it's the charm of this sub-genre. Here the structure of the album is divided in three part. All of them are constructed absolutely precise with logical links between. Each of the phases contains its own logical inception of the action, development of the action, culmination, denouement and an end. Moreover, the beginning and the end are connected, too! The themes and motifs of the composition are implicated into a chess game. There are so many turns and you can't remember everything. With every next playing you realize more and more new moments. So you have to remember you turns and their meanings, if you want to win the game/understand something.

Number Seven by Phideaux is already one of my all time favourite albums.

Flawless, brilliant, intelligent!!!

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is truly amazing! Phideaux improves from even an album like Doomsday Afternoon! Close to the best album to come out since Fear of a Blank Planet IMO. The concept is an impressive one, and it does not displease. Although the album has to be listened to as a whole it's an enjoyable listen, one that you aren't likely to forget. The concept is hard to follow at times but the music flows so well it doesn't really make a difference. The first piece is Dormouse Ensnared which starts off with an acoustic intro which makes way for the excellent track, Waiting for the Axe to Fall. This song is amazing with some excellent vocals from Phideaux himself and his female partner. Although it changes tracks it doesn't seem like Waiting for the Axe to Fall ever really ends, which is fine becuse it's an excellent track, but don't expect anything more. The next piece, Dormouse Escapes starts of as a beautiful acoustic ballad which eventually starts rocking a little bit more when it gets past the almost sing song Interview With a Dormouse and into the totally amazing instrumental, Thermonuclear Cheese (nice title too). The piece ends leaving you with questions that just have to be answered! Don't worry, Dormouse Enlightened explains it all! Almost. Love Theme to Number Seven is just what the title says, but I was left in awe after I heard it, bringing to mind... Keith Emerson maybe? Not entirely sure. Then in Storia Senti the soothing Italian vocals are just plain beautiful, nuff said. But when it gets into it's rocky section Queen comes to mind for me. Infinite Supply is a nice ballad answering a lot of the questions we have but then with the last track more questions are risen. All I can say after this release is this: great job Phideaux can't wait for 7 and a Half! I really wish I could describe the album better because it deserves so much praise it's extremely hard to put into words. Give it a listen and maybe see what I mean.
Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars Right in the middle of a three-album trilogy, Phideaux takes a break to do a concept album that is in itself set up as a trilogy and calls it Number Seven. Whaaa???? Couldn't he come up with a better title? Personally, I would have saved a title like that for my ninth album (number nine number nine number nine number nine). Well, it is his seventh studio album. Musically speaking I guess this is like album 2.5 in the trilogy that's currently in progress. It isn't too far removed in musical style from Doomsday Afternoon. Which is to say if you enjoyed that one, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this one.

The concept is about a struggle between a dormouse (also known as a shrew) and a crayfish (pronounced mudbug around these parts). This is basically a metaphor for male-female couple relationships though it can certainly apply to other couplings as well.

The music is classic Phideaux style. You'll hear lots of elements that hearken back to classic prog yet it's put together in a special way that keeps it from going cliché. For those who miss what could be done with album artwork in the old LP format, the artwork in the CD booklet is top notch. I'm a little hesitant to rate this as an essential masterpiece of progressive rock music, but what the hell, I'm rounding up.

A footnote that I read about first on this site, shrews actually do go after crayfish in nature.

Review by MovingPictures07
1 stars With all the hype over this album, I was so incredibly excited to hear Phideaux's Number 7. I can see why this album has been rated so highly on ProgArchives. However, I have an extremely tough time recommending this album to anyone, unless you enjoy hearing what I consider the epitome of prog by numbers.

I tried listening to this album on so many occasions now. I enjoy tons of classic prog and new prog that follows in a 70s-ish vein (The Flower Kings coming to mind for the latter), and my favorite bands can range from every single sub-genre of prog, not counting any other genre.

This is an album that is played really well; but, for my interest, fails to do absolutely anything positive for me. Every time I heard this, I found myself bored out of my mind. The music is meandering and pointless and for much of the time, bordering on irritating and cheesy. I find that this album suffers a Camel syndrome, as I have the same problem with nearly all of their releases. Despite that, I'd much rather listen to The Snow Goose than this album. Don't think that I only enjoy fast-paced music though; Tangerine Dream is one of my favorite bands ever, and it is typically rare that I find a prog artist I'm not too keen on. If anything, listening to this album made me think back on my listening experiences of The Snow Goose with a newfound appreciation that I thought impossible to acquire.

The production is better than you'd expect for a self-produced album, very sleek and modern; honestly it does not particularly sound self-produced just from its sound. Unfortunately, the production is almost unfavorable, as it gives the album a very comatose-inducing atmosphere (and not the good kind). I'd say that the piano is the main instrument that benefits very hugely from the production treatment.

The lyrics are atrocious. I hardly ever put a whole lot of importance on the lyrics unless the album calls for it; but firstly, this is a concept album. Additionally, if the instrumentation doesn't keep my attention, I'm more apt to pay attention to the lyrics. In my opinion, there are more than plenty of other lyrical topics which would have made this album much more enjoyable. Not only that, but the matter in which the lyrics are portrayed completely ruins any possible effect they would have had on me in the first place. For my taste, vocals themselves are also bland and uninspired.

As a fellow composer, I understand how much work it takes to create an album. I wish Phideaux good luck with his musical endeavors, despite the fact that it seems I won't be hearing any more of his work.

One of the most disappointing acquisitions I've ever made, and my only huge disappointment thus far for 2009.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars What a contrast in the reviews about this Phideaux album: from one to five stars! Not easy to make up one's mind?Let's go for another attempt.

This man has brought me with different feelings: two very good albums ("Ghost Story" and " Chupacabras"), two good ones ("The Great Leap", " Doomsday Afternoon") and a few less interesting ones. This also means that I never know what to expect from a Phideaux album.

This work is a three pieces structure or suites; each of them lasting for approximately twenty minutes. I can't say that I am overwhelmed with joy during the first one "Dormouse Ensnared": it holds few to none great passages (being instrumental or sung).

The second one "Dormouse Ensnared" is slightly better: at least some fine female vocals and good saxing are raising the level, but there is a total lack of passion felt. Business as usual, I should say. A professional deployment of music. Yes. But no more than this. The man has used us to better things.

The complaint mood of "The Search For Terrestrial Life" is particularly difficult to bear. And the folkish "Fistful Of Fortitude" is not the best way to close this second section IMO. So far, there is quite a bit of a deception with this album.

It is only with the last part of this album ("Dormouse Enlightened") that the music starts to make some effects on yours truly. " Love Theme" holds some fine guitar, a nice beat and performing vocals. It was about time!

There is even some Italian lyrics during "Storia Senti". Quite unexpected but OK. Don't expect the brilliance of some great Italian bands though.

I'm quite mixed about "Number 7". It flirts between average and good. Three stars is the maximum I can supply here.

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars I guess the reviewers' contrasting opinions (either 1 star or 5) are somewhat biased by the author's presence on PA as a user. The truth about new PHIDEAUX album, as it's supposed to be, is somewhere in between - three fair stars.

I loved "Doomsday Afternoon", so I had no problem with this one. The same way singer- songwriterish Retro-Prog, with beautiful catchy melodies, but this time it really sounds like a sequel. The originals are always better, aren't they? I mean DA was that special album, whose line is continued by N7, and it will always be better (at least, in my book). N7 can't be regarded as DA's twin, it's more pastoral, somewhat Genesis/Curved Air/Italian Prog-inspired, more laid back and acoustic, while DA was more Symphonic and even Floydian at times. It hardly breaks a new ground, it is definitely NOT a new word in a world of Prog, but it's even better, you can just sit back, relax and got an hour of good ol Prog. A bit lacking diversity, a bit uneven and too sentimental in its second half, it still worthy of these three fair stars. Recommended, but newbies should start with "Doomsday Afternoon" first

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Until last week PHIDEAUX was just a name for me, always read about him, but every time I was going to buy an album, there was another priority, so time kept passing and never got a copy.

A few days ago I was buying the EPIGNOSIS download and for some strange reason also bought "Number Seven", probably more for curiosity due to the contradictory reviews than for real conviction, thanks God I did it, the album is worth every penny, at this moment my priority is to aquire his previous releases.

The album is divided in three suites (Or multi part epics if you want) of about 20 minutes, recorded almost as a Conceptual album about opposites, don't know if good-evil, masculine-feminine, Ying-Yang or whatever (My English has some limits), but it's intelligent and keeps the interest, what at last is the main objective.

The album starts with "Dormouse Ensnared"

"Dormouse - A Theme": Is a beautiful acoustic intro, people talk about PINK FLOYD, GENESIS or whoever they want influence, but it's an original and incredible acoustic section with a Medieval touch that sets the idea in motion.

"Waiting For The Axe To Fall makes the perfect contrast, vibrant and powerful, but without allowing all the strength free, the piano is delightful and the choirs in the vein of Pink Floyd match perfectly with the oneiric lead vocals. Don't expect radical changes, the name of the game is "thick and dense atmospheres", love it.

"Hive Mind": The rhythmic piano and the vocals in march tempo mark a transitional moment in the suite, the use of different keys is just brilliant and accurate, even though sounds inspired in Baroque music, thers's something that pulls us back a couple of centuries to the late Medieval period, After the middle of the track the real thing begins with extreme time changes and powerful passages, this is Prog Rock at it's best.

"The Claws Of A Crayfish" is the logical continuation of "Hive Mind", but this time PHIDEAUX gives more attention to the drama and melancholy over the dreamy atmosphere present from the start, the orchestration is simply delightful and impressive, even more when the heartbreaking violin and chorus complete the effect, really this guys keep surprising me, and please pay attention to the Moog performance at the middle of the song.

"My Sleeping Slave" is the perfect coda for the first suite, the dark mysterious piano and the Moog create a delicate atmosphere and the vocals add that PINK FLOYD touch so widely recognized in PHIDEAUX. An absolutely dramatic song with some dissonant chorus that add more beauty and interest. By this point I'm thrilled with the album.

Dormouse Escapes

The acoustic guitar announces the beginning of "Darkness at Noon" a very short folksy intro with breathtaking choirs and good vocals, flows gently from start to end leading to the more dramatic "Prequiem", which has extremely beautiful keyboards and electric guitar played in the style of Dave Gilmour.

"Gift of the Flame" maintains the dreamy atmosphere with a combination of electric and acoustic guitars, plus for the first time a saxophone that adds a jazzy feeling, the drumming by Rich Huchins is fantastic. But then a sudden change, the feminine vocals help to create a more cheerful atmosphere, another good example of modern Progressive Rock.

"Interview with a Dormouse" is pompous and brilliant, something PHIDEAUX has been avoiding from the start, but again changes into a troubadouresque song which connects to the weird "Thermonuclear Cheese", after a chant the songs morphs into something I can only describe as a bit electronic a bit Symphonic, with Baroque organ adding extra pomp.

"The Search for Terrestrial" is another weird song with narration and close to New Age/Celtic vocals, not my cup of tea but coherent with the structure of he album

"A Fistful of Fortitude" closes the second suite in a nostalgic mood, well at least at the beginning, because as the song advances gets more cheerful and melodic just to end soft and melodic again, very nice touch.

Dormouse Enlightened

Starts with the dreamy intro of "Love Theme From "Number Seven" but then Phideaux Xavier delights us with a fantastic piano solo, after some seconds a haunting female chant supports him, and only then the whole band joins, allowing a distorted guitar take the lead for instants, but that's not all, the piano retakes the lead role and guides the band to a frantic passage with everything that can be imagined, just wonderful piece of art.

Without interruption "Storia Senti" and the sentimental piano starts, a distant guitar joins with the powerful vocals in an elaborate work that starts to fade allowing some kind of re- birth, much faster and closer to traditional Rock. After this the song flows gently towards the end not before a magnificent keyboard and piano instrumental break and a couple of musical explosions, by this point I'm ready to expect the unexpected...............But hey, this is what Prog is about.

"Infinite Supply" starts more or less in the vein of the early ALAN PARSON'S PROJECT albums, with a majestic piano and vocals, in the background the violin adds some nostalgia, again the song flows gently without surprises, really touching.

The album is closed with "Dormouse", a song that again makes me remember some PINK FLOYD material but with something special, so hard to describe that I won't even try to do it, just will enjoy the music and sghut up.

Before reviewing "Number Seven" I was surprised, not because the high ratings but for the short reviews, after struggling for hours I can explain this, the album is easy and pleasant to listen, but incredibly hard to describe, seems that PHIDEAUX XAVIER is a perfectionist and adds what he feels is necessary without caring for genres or tags, and this is precisely what I liked more, being that rediscovered my capacity of surprise even after almost three decades of Progressive Rock.

Before I end, it's necessary to say I almost rated this excellent album with 5 stars, but being the first one I listen by this band, I will be conservative and give 4 very solid stars that should be 4.5 if possible.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
2 stars As honestly I say, this is a good album I think...not a collective piece, though.

After quiet and serious guitar solo of Dormouse - A Theme, dramatic melodies and melanchoric voices are very comfortable for me in the song Waiting for the Axe to Fall. I wanna say bravo for especially the last climax. I feel warmth in the complexity. Hive Mind has pop and catchy flavour with flying sparks of colourful sounds. Wonderful orchestration and dramaric changes of scenes are in The Claws Of A Crayfish and the next My Sleeping Slave. Darkness At Noon and Prequiem are short tracks on the dark side...before another world we will enter?! Fantastic are the guitar solo and percussive rhythm of Gift Of The Flame. Although the next two (Interview With A Dormouse and Thermonuclear Cheese) are short but I love these depressive shots with a brilliant stream flowing. A bit different taste from other songs is in The Search For Terrestrial a toy in the dark and messy department eccentric I feel always. Back to the PAIN...yea, A Fistful of Fortitude is exactly a pain coming here again. However, terrific drama will come soon...Love Theme From Number Seven has good progressive flavour with classical elements - with our long waiting. By poppin' Storia Senti, graceful Infinite Supply he might try to put fragrant variation on this my opinion, though. With Dormouse - An End the story ends quietly, plaintively and flat.

Indeed there are painful killa atomosphere"s" in serial in this work (and I feel most songs are good upon style and production), but I'm sorry I can feel only sweet flavour, not woody, estery, or spicy one from this whisky. It's a regret at least for me that I cannot enjoy a taste of great depth.

PHIDEAUX, I'M lookin' forward to your next work too.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3,5 stars at least. I was quite amazed by the contrasting ratings this album generated among reviewers. So I decided to take my time when I got this CD. I had to give it lots of atention and repeated spins. And I think I understand now why there is such controversity. For the casual listener this CD might sound insipid and somewhat ragged. The theme may be silly (or would it be too profound for my undestanding?), but I found the music to be quite atractive, complex and considerable deeper than I first thought.

Actually I think this CD as far more demanding to the listener than I guess most people noticed. If I just put it as background music it won´t work.. On the other hand when I do listen to it closely I see a very fine piece of work. I wouldn´t go as far as call it a masterpiece, but it certainly is more than meets the eye. Besides, all its references to the 70´s classic rock is something I like a lot. The top notch production and the fine playing from all involved certainly doen´t hurt. It´s hard to point out a highlight, since the CD should be heard as a long suite with many different parts. enough to say that there are no fillers.

Conclusion: savory, but for special tastes. Like most concept albums it is better appreciated if you take it in small parts. Still, as a whole, is very good. I´m looking forward to hear Phideaux next work.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In all fairness , it was a daunting task to overcome the genius of "Doomsday Afternoon" and therefore the assorted comments by our veteran prog review crew of "7" are indicative of a certain post-orgasmic letdown (Stop giggling, will you!). Our Tarcisio is correct in stating that as background music (aka first unfocused casual spin) this is no winner at all, in fact, it doesn't even have those monstrous groove moments that define the previous opus ( "Formaldehyde", "Doctrine 1 & 2" etc?). There seems to be a more homogenous construction that eschews the soloing instrumental pulse in favor of a story line that needs to be steered effectively. I am no big fan of silly neo-political/social/religious imagery especially when it involves a crayfish and a dormouse but I can see where the artist places his energies and Phideaux certainly has the equipment and the history to express himself the way he sees fit. So then, what do we have? An album that some will see as an upgrade and others a "sidegrade". (the downgrade is not an option, the music is just to luxuriant). Every note is clinically formatted for maximum effect and thereby perhaps loses that one true essence that made Doomsday such a monument: breath, expanse and actual music. It comes across as a vocal-heavy prog-pop-space opera that has an oblique message and an even more opaque delivery. Those were my first impressions, my pen flowing to the sounds emanating from the plastic. The zebra-shirted, black-capped official sternly trots to midfield, stroking his hip-mike: "Upon further review, the play on the field stands, third down!". It is becoming abundantly clear to this reviewer than Mr. Phideaux is above all 1- a music fan 2- a prog collector 3- as a musician , he is a master-collator, a seasoned cataloguist, weaving various well-proven and effective prog strands into the dense fabric of his compositions. Original only in that the incorporations can include a registry as panoramic as his personal tastes that go from Joy Division, Bowie, Floyd, Moody Blues, Tull, Roxy Music, VdGG, Sparks, Le Orme, etc... Example is one of the highlight acmes on this disc, the lush RPI-tinged "Senti" that has all the passion of an Italian prog opera. In fact, it probably "out-Italians" the Italians! As for the music on "7", the band is super tight, more into teamwork ensemble playing than any flashy attitude in endless soloing, the drumming is propulsive and the various keys lay down some mean sonic carpet. This is "snippet central" with an endless flow of mini-pieces infusing longer tracks always between the 5-7 minute mark in length , that mosaic into one colossal work (I must admit I prefer the more homogenous tracks in general), fitting into each other with nary a pause in the interval . The 6 minute "Waiting for The Axe to Fall" is a highlight stretch-out, with sublime violin, great male and female singing and a ghostly mood that ushers back to past successful achievements. On "Hive Mind", the haunting "femme" choir work and rifling instrumental passages are a sheer delight and the piano-led arrangement is as tight as a Scottish accountant. Acoustic guitar and sultry sax only add to the gratification. "The Claws of the Crayfish" has loads of dramatics (Ariel's violin), some effective bass from ex- Discipline's Matt Kennedy, whistling synths and rousing organs and some dreamy "aaaahs' from the Xavier saviour! The gentle soporific lullaby lilt of "My Sleeping Slave" induces a sense of floating, followed by some mini-frescoes , the astonishing but too brief "Darkness at Noon"(conjuring up images of Shawn Phillips's Second Contribution) , "Prequiem" the lady-choir follow up to Xavier's previous wispy vocal , sliced through by a soaring lead guitar (er... Finally, it's about time!). The longer "Gift of the Flame" infuses some instrumental verve and élan (yeah, more fretwork!), some passionate semi-Celtic flavored lead vocals from his ladies that is quite inspiring, while the e-piano and sax embrace lustily. You want to laugh now, said the madman to the disbelievers? = "Interview" is a short electronic cascade that ushers in the childlike verse "do you have any cheese?" showing that Xavier can also handle sarcasm, irony and a bulbous sense of self-parody ("Thermonuclear Cheese", hahaha!), silly you! "The Search for Terrestrial Life" is just too goofy for my taste, a wandering space dirge that sounds somewhat corny at first and just meanders too comfortably numb, desperately yearning for some musical spark (the guitar break is way too timid), even though the multi-voiced chorus is most pleasant. "A Fistful of (Dollars, oops I mean) Fortitude" has a "Clint Eastwood, early 70s Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone" feel that again shows composer Xavier Phideaux delicious sense of humor (as well as his astute poaching abilities). "Love Theme" is certainly the solid cornerstone of this album, a 7 minute foray into a sonic expanse that breathes, glows, and vibrates with a certain romantic melancholia, a grand piano delivering a heart rending message (that would make Wakeman blush with envy), a lead feminine voice wailing and hauntingly expressing the theme, a tortuous guitar frill paving the way for some more piano ramblings, a synthesizer solo and some seriously inspired playing that shows the unalterable contrasts with all the too perfect ensemble pieces before hand. This is Phideaux at his best: weird, odd, unpredictable (even tossing in a slight zeuhl feel) and brashly captivating. There is more music on this track than the previous 11 tracks combined and when the previously mentioned Italian "Storia Senti" section kicks in, the pinnacle core section of this album has been let out of the box, finally! A stellar slab of ornate and expressive music that Le Orme, PFM or Banco would proudly acknowledge, full of playful elasticity and inspiring musicianship (the" pa-pa-pa" female scat pipings), huge orchestral adornments and accent less Italian vocals from Signore "Fido". Bravo, ragazzo! Massive applause from the La Scala crowd. I am humbly impressed. "Infinite Supply" has a feel of finality, a post-orgasmic afterglow that doesn't really need to be overtly analyzed; just letting it flow is good enough for me. The story ends on another spacey effect, the Dormouse returning to his idyll hideaway and munching greedily on his aged cheddar, a vehicle for Phideaux' personal thoughts on the human condition (or is it dysfunction?).

This wide compass is precisely why the ratings have been so varied, in that the chamber jazz/ gothic prog/classic rock maelstrom (No, not the sparkling Russell and Ron!) can lend itself ideally to a bit of listening confusion. As a whole, 7 has not grabbed me by the jugular and seduced me from the get-go quite like "Doomsday Afternoon". At least, not yet! Perhaps it will require a few more strategic spins, a more observant ear and a mental eraser, so as not to compare with the previous masterstroke. That being said, Phideaux has made his name in prog circles and beyond, his obvious talent and brash confidence are extremely well founded and highly appreciated by any open-minded music lover. We are all lucky to have you amongst us! 4.5 leaping goatsuckers

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Phideaux is the catbird in the ornithological world of progressive rock. This avian denizen enjoys mimicking other species', but not religiously so or in rapid-fire succession a la Mockingbird. The catbird also has its own distinct mew, but even that is relatively mellifluous, and no self-respecting catbird would ever mimic high voltage wires.

So it is with Phideaux, who distills the less amplified and more refined aspects of decidedly spacey and symphonic rock with a preference for the classics. Everyone mentions PINK FLOYD, but I hear plenty more of ALAN PARSONS, CAMEL, MIKE OLDFIELD, and ELOY, as well as folk artists who lean progressive like AL STEWART, DONOVAN and even CAT STEVENS. The mix is eclectic and tends to best of breed both in the referenced artists and in the references to them.

As with the masterful "Doomsday Afternoon", "Number Seven" takes many listens to fully appreciate, as Phideaux guides us on a convoluted route to and from the happy, sad, funny, and dramatic. The material here isn't as strong as on the prior album, as fewer truly outstanding passages are exposed, but it's still a hugely entertaining romp with its plethora of instrumentation from retro organs to orchestration, sax, guitars and pretty much anything else the group can muster.

From the first listen to the last, I admit to finding Part 1 to be most appealing, with the lightly sinister "Waiting for the Axe to Fall" and the suspenseful "Claws of a Crayfish" arguably the best tracks on the disk. Side 2 begins with a curious folky reprise of themes from "Doomsday" in the form of "Darkness at Noon". But its peak rests on the shoulders of "Gift of the Flame", which adds horns to its 1980s MIke Oldfield /Maggie Reilly patterns and spare airborne lyrics that are anything but trite.

While weaknesses do emerge - "Love Theme from Number Seven" is as dull and unfocused as prog can be - what impresses me after umpteen auditions is a matter that separates Phideaux from a lot of his idols, especially those who were big so long ago. These guys/girls are having fun, and, even though they legitimately could do so, they are not taking themselves too seriously, and all one needs to confirm my suspicion is a quick listen to the various "Dormouse" components strewn about. But the lightness of spirit is everywhere, regardless of the apparently somber nature of some of the lyrical themes. "Storia Senti" sounds like it is leaning to the pretentious side just for its Italian lyrics, that is until a sublime piano theme bursts forth when least expected, and refreshes mightily.

Unlike the prog superstars of the past, Phideaux need not answer to empty suits, which means that he not only has been able to achieve a lucky seven opuses, but, to pilfer an expression, he is sitting in the catbird's seat, and looking and sounding just fine.

Review by LiquidEternity
4 stars I've been waffling on this review for a long time now. A good part of me is desperate to promote Phideaux and this his latest release, Number Seven. But I still find it not quite daring enough to ever enter the realm of a progressive rock masterpiece. Naturally, don't just stop at those words. I do recommend this album, and highly.

Phideaux has been an artist doing his own thing for some years now. It wasn't until the surprisingly popular (at least on this site) Doomsday Afternoon that his "thing" that he's been doing started gathering attention. It was with Doomsday Afternoon that I, too, came across his music. Believe me: if you enjoy Doomsday Afternoon, it's almost guaranteed that you'll enjoy Number Seven. The same meticulous attention to melody and harmony, with still the dense atmospheres and the meager amount of instrumental solos--all still Phideaux. The female vocals are even more amped up on this release, with the band's namesake in the vocal minority. That, along with a greater sense of "epic" sound, is what differentiates Number Seven from his earlier releases. The band rocks full tilt at points, slides gently forward at others... All in all, falling somewhere in between exactly what you'd expect and exactly what you'd demand, depending on who you are. Got the gist? So let's zoom in a bit, then.

The album is divided into three parts, though I find the middle part much less cohesive and more like a short series of segued songs that all exist very independently. The first suite, Dormouse Ensared (yes, this album is about rodents, for some reason that I haven't quite grasped of yet), opens with a quiet and whimsical melody as it turns into the haunting crawl of Waiting for the Axe to Fall. There are tons of keyboards dominating this album (this band, really), but here is one of the most densely keyboarded parts anywhere from the band. Lovely vocals, wonderful melodies, very nice to listen to though not particularly challenging or surprising. Also, as a note, don't believe everyone who might tell you that Phideaux is just a retro-prog band or that they're just trying to sound like the 70s. There is credence to such a claim, but it is not the whole truth. A lot of different musics go into Phideaux, and classic prog tends to be the one we hear the most simply on account of it being the one kind of music we all know really well. Or something. That argument is not entirely fleshed out, so perhaps I'll edit this later with a better ability to make sense.

The second part, Dormouse Escapes, is, as mentioned above, much less of a unified piece. Four of the seven tracks are short little pieces, falling somewhere between filler and mood-setter (I'm not counting A Fistful of Fortitude in this group, as it seems to me to be much more of a coda to The Search for Terrestrial Life). That leaves the two long tracks of this section: Gift of the Flame and The Search for Terrestrial Life. The former is the highlight of the album to my ears, being upbeat, beautifully performed, and much more diverse in its sonic textures than many of its Phideaux peers. The saxophone in here is wonderful. The Search for Terrestrial Life was a difficult grower for me, as the alternate female lead irked me a bit at first (trust me, her voice is great, just give it a few listens if you dislike her initially). The melodies here are also very striking and well-crafted, turning into A Fistful of Fortitude and cleverly wrapping up the second portion of the album.

The final third, Dormouse Enlightened, sometimes seems great to my ears and at other times feels like the low point. Love Theme from "Number Seven" is a bloated (but not entirely disagreeably so) instrumental. The piano near the beginning and the keyboards near the conclusion lift it a couple of notches, though. Again, there is very little soloing to Phideaux's music, so don't expect this to be a seven minute instrumental driven by a wild guitar solo or a freestyle bass duet or whatever was hip back in the day. The track then turns into the strange Storia Senti, which is a weak point for a little while. By the end, before it transitions into the final song, it does pick up, however, into a cheerful-sounding ditty. Infinite Supply rings more like classic pre-Doomsday Afternoon Phideaux, with a simpler, more rock-esque structure and Phideaux himself on the lead vocals. Lastly, the album closes with the (yes, it's all been tongue-in-cheek at King Crimson) folky tune Dormouse - An End, which features some of his strongest lyrics and most darkly whimsical performance yet.

Is Number Seven the album of the year, then? No. Is it good? Quite. If you're into metal or bizarreness or jazz fusion, it may not be the album for you (it still may, but don't expect it to sound like any of those things). If you're looking for some modern prog that holds to the ideals of the classics without actually mimicking their sound and song structures, or if you already like Phideaux and are unsure about this one: get it. Very enjoyable, and recommended more strongly than four stars might imply.

Review by CCVP
4 stars Acoustic music, folk rock, italian and retro progressive rock

After the mind-blowing Doomsday Afternoon, a rather big amount of people were waiting eagerly for Phideaux Xavier next release, which would be the conclusion of the trilogy. Fortunately (or unfortunately, for some) Mr. Xavier decided to postpone the release of said conclusion to release another concept album with a quite unusual concept: Number 7 is about a Dormouse and a Crayfish! Unusual characters, to say the least. Still about the concept, most certainly Phideaux is very fond of trilogies, since this album is divided in three parts as well.

It is also interesting to point that Number 7 has some important shoes to fill, because it was the first album released after Phideaux's magnum opus and, as well all know, that position is always problematic and, not being at least as good as its predecessor, the album may be even unfairly labeled a bad album, despite being very good. The most famous case of this in progressive rock is the album In the Wake of Poseidon, by King Crimson. It is very difficult to keep up the quality and please everybody in these conditions, but by what it seems this album will not have that kind of trouble.

Music-wise, Number 7 is quite similar / is in the same style as Doomsday's: vast acoustic parts and emotional rock music, highly influenced by british folk rock and 70's progressive rock and, pretty much like in Doomsday Afternoon, the result is great. There is also visible influence from italian rock here, what can be seen even more clearly in the song Storia Senti, which is sung in italian. Unfortunately, however, this album can't impress as much as the one from 2007 did, despite the applaudable effort from Mr. Xavier. Maybe the reason for that is that the album follows its prior way too well, falling short of enough original ideas.

The music in the whole album has a dark feeling, something quite like the idea of silent suffering, but not desperation. Possibly the idea of decadence with elegance reflects better the idea of the album: the the beauty of decay and sadness.

Grade and Final Thoughts

So, if you liked Doomsday, listening Number 7 will definitely be a pleasant experience, though it would be nice if the albums were not so similar, musically. 4 stars.

PS: 100th rating baby!

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This 2009 effort courtesy of Xavier Phideaux and friends is an effort that should interest many who enjoy symphonic progressive rock, in particular those who believe all the best music was made in the 70's.

One epic composition divided into 3 segments and a total of 16 parts, where the piano appears to be the main provider of themes and passages while organ, keys and mellotron supply the finer details. The guitar has more of a subdued role. Wandering undistorted guitar patterns does appear quite often, subdued riffs and solo passages are slightly more rare - but the piano takes the centre stage on this production.

Recurring themes are used to keep a red thread to the proceedings, and the general mood of this album is subdued. No rich orchestral ventures nor bombastic musical statements; it's the finer details and subtle dramatics that are utilized. At times in a pretty quirky fashion, which along with the lyrical and musical content of Storia Senti makes me suspect that the traditions from Italian symphonic prog may have been a central influence on this effort.

Not as good nor as immideate as 2007's Doomsday Afternoon, but a great album non the less - but an effort that warrants the listener to spend time getting familiar with the scope and sound presented.

Review by jampa17
4 stars I recieve this album at my house two days ago as a gift that I win last month on Progarchives, so I remain on ignorance about this artist and I did prefer to know nothing about this project and see if I could like it without any back knowledge, and how impress I am right know...

I think this band has take the best of symphonic rock and release it with a very modern rock sound and apeal that can drag many actual fans to dive into the 70's symphonic bands. For start I can say I prefer their concept than the 70's bands because of the quality sound, the great sounds of the keyboards and the great mix of these amount of instruments... the voices are very modern and the overall concept -in music- is very enjoyable and catchy...

Guess the story is little kind of strange -the lyrics I mean- and maybe are not their focus, but works very well with the moods and textures of the tracks... it's a concept album and you can really dive in and feel great in this fresh and melodic journey... I feel like I was listening to Alux Nahual first records but with an improvement on the sound mix... I won't go in the track by track review... just give it a try to the complete piece and you will get it... this is kind of the best symphonic rock -not metal at all- that I've heard...

Also, if you like this, you can search for Alux Nahual, their first two albums were just like this, just with less quality sound (from early 80's)... so, very good choice if you enjoy the clean sound of symphonic prog rock... 4 strong stars... without a doubt...

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars It was the free mp3 of 'Hive Mind/Claws of a Crayfish" off of his website that made me feel it was very important that I begin exploring Phideaux's music by acquiring his latest album.

As is normal for me, I spent my first bit of time looking at the packaging, enjoying the many images of dormouse fighting crayfish within the liner notes. It also piqued my curiosity - why are they fighting? What is this album about? Either way, I knew I was going to have a lot of fun following the lyrics as I listened to this album.

Since the first time I listened to it, I have been unable to stop (similar to how Moon Safari's Blomljud effected me). While not as good as Blomljud overall, this album is definitely up there, and currently my favorite release so far this year (although I have a fair amount of listening to do still).

The CD is split into three sections. The name of each section gives hints as to what the album is about.

Dormouse Ensnared starts off with a very nice sounding guitar bit, and leads into four songs that are hard to separate from one another. They are replete with catchy vocals, melodic instrumentation, and excellent drumming. And there are female vocals! I think that, with so many prog bands (almost all actually) having only male vocalists, this album having female vocals gives it a unique texture. In total, there are three female singers on this album, and multiple male vocalists, giving the vocals a very varied feel. I really do appreciate bands like this, that take care to give their vocals a lot of feel.

The four continuous tracks are quite wonderful; the second half of Waiting for the Axe to Fall is an excellent instrumental section with truly interesting drumming that leads beautifully into the piano intro of Hive Mind (which I find impossible to separate from the next song, Claws of a Crayfish; not just because I originally heard them both together, but because they actually share musical themes). The lyrics are also interesting; my favorite line from this section is "You and I were talking, as if we were alive." Such a nice, thoughtful lyric.

The second part of the album also contains a group of songs that flow together like a single song, but prior to that it has a couple songs that stand out as individual songs a bit more. These are short and pleasant, but it is with Gift of the Flame that this section really kicks off. Once again, Phideaux is combining interesting lyrics, great music, vocals, and interesting drumming to really build a nice atmosphere of music. This leads into the faery-tale-esque "Interview with a Dormouse", a simple acoustic part with a theme that will be repeated at the closing of the album to great effect.

Of course, next is Thermonuclear Cheese, perhaps one of the most interestingly titled tracks on the album. It was also available for download on the website (with The Search for Terrestrial Life and Fistful of Fortitude in the same mp3). It's pretty much a fun little instrumental bit that leads into what I feel to be a really atmospheric song (The Search for Terrestrial Life), where a female singer explains the Cambrian era. It always brings me straight into the depths of the ocean, watching all these hundreds of thousands of life forms blinking in and out of existence. Truly magical music.

The end of the album features the two longest individual songs: Love Theme From "Number Seven", an excellent instrumental piece, and Storia Senti, which is also mostly instrumental. While Storia Senti is not as interesting musically as the prior instrumental sections, it is still an excellent piece of music.

Infinite Supply probably gets my vote for weakest track on the album, although on this album that still makes it a good listen. Dormouse - An End reprises the theme from Interview with a Dormouse, although it is a bit more bleak in outlook. Definitely a solid way to end the album.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars Phideaux continues his winning streak of stellar releases, "Number Seven" being very much the heir to the outstanding "Doomsday Afternoon". As a whole, "Number Seven" is a symphonic journey through beautiful styles, moods, tones, and emotions, with a consumate songwriter as one's guide.

The album begins with the mysterious "Dormouse" theme, giving way to the beautifully ominous "Waiting for the Axe to Fall", which features characteristic blends of synth, vocals, and guitar effects. These features are utilized throughout the album, its recurring themes and melodies weaving a lush and emotive tapestry of sound. The vocals are great, with the female lead almost stealing the show. Phideaux's guitar playing is usually understated, so don't expect anything especially rousing or heavy-- mood and melody are the name of the game here. There are peaks and valleys within the dynamics, but things stick to subtlety more often than not (even though the album is about war).

The overall feeling is generally forboding, but never oppressively so. Phideaux doesn't seem to take himself as seriously as some other symphonic/prog stars, and "Number Seven" reflects that. Although dark, this release has a sort of bouyancy which keeps its tone and pace moving quite along, and it never gets preachy with its lyrics.

Very, very good, and probably a 5 star release if not for its close similarities to its slightly more striking predecessor, which has a greater depth of emotion. Still, "Number Seven" is a lock for album of the year on many listener's lists, thanks to its iconically progressive sound and genuine excellence. The blend of styles and quality of songwriting is poised to place Phideaux as the prog-rock artist to watch.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Loosely borrowing a structure from King Crimson's In the Wake of Poseidon, Phideaux's 2009 album is a strange mixture of excellence and boringness- I have tried many times in vain to determine to which side it leans closer. Overall, this album is swell, and I find little fault with its execution or totality. However, I can see why some regard this as boring- I find my own mind wandering during many passages, unable to focus or recall what I'd just heard. Musically, variation is something almost completely lacking; on this album, the instrumentation especially remains consistent nearly throughout, with similar rhythms, melodies, and chord progressions, but Phideaux milks nearly every ounce of creativity from those elements, even if the whole grows stale in places. I enjoy this album, and I do so occasionally still, but admittedly it requires a measure of fortitude and concentration I don't always want to muster.

"Dormouse- A Theme" Acoustic guitar provides a delicate and clear melodic introduction.

"Waiting for the Axe to Fall" Dark piano and synthesizer parade through the music of the first proper song. While a bit dull at times, the sinister melodies are quite pleasing and do a fine job cementing themselves into the hearer's mind. The instrumental sections possess much of the same existence.

"Hive Mind" Rolling piano chords form the basis of the next part. Decent melodies notwithstanding, this track, even at four minutes in length, seems like three different pieces strung together with questionable transitions.

"The Claws of a Crayfish" A more intense movement, this features soaring feminine vocals and lovely strings.

"My Sleeping Slave" Further dreary piano and synthesizer ensue. This is one where I don't particularly care for the vocals. Organ, synthesizer, and acoustic guitar add extra melodies.

"Darkness at Noon" Here is a terse acoustic guitar and vocal piece.

"Prequiem" More acoustic guitar, organ, and decent vocals are present here, but a solid lead guitar is added, freshening an album that was becoming in need of freshening.

"Gift of the Flame" I am rather fond of this piece- it exhibits almost everything great about this album in one convenient package. It has a great acoustic guitar theme, complimented with electric, and semi-intense orchestration throughout. The addition of a saxophone, warbling tones, and a delightful bass groove remind me very much of Pink Floyd's "Any Colour You Like," even introducing the album's first truly heavy passage. Lead guitar jumps in and out between vocal lines, and it has a solid heavy passage that gives way to a dimming mood led by lovely vocals.

"Interview with a Dormouse" Following an ominous composition, the acoustic theme returns, this time with one of the "cheesiest" lyrics ever- but those lyrics are quite foreboding in their own whimsical way.

"Thermonuclear Cheese" Organ (and a bizarre choir) begin this piece. A thick synthesizer lead carries the melody.

"The Search for Terrestrial Life" Another favorite of mine from the album, this song begins gently enough with some narration, and possesses perhaps the most memorable melody of the album. With remarkable harmonies, the male and female vocals weave in and out in a spectacular way. Phideaux Xavier's vocals have a gritty Peter Gabriel quality without coming across as imitative- another plus.

"A Fistful of Fortitude" Gorgeous acoustic guitar and violin give way to sudden vocalizations and drumming. The main melody from the previous track returns.

"Love Theme from "Number Seven" Gentle piano and feminine vocals move this longest work into something slightly heavier. Again, the transitions are mite weak, but the electric piano and synthesizer solos compensate. Electric guitar adds another needed dimension, but I do not at all care for the shrieking that comes in toward the end.

"Storia Senti" Continuing from the previous piece, this has a lead vocal in Italian, as well as some enjoyable violin. An upbeat melody returns, this time with vocal accompaniment. Violin, arpeggiated synthesizer, piano, and electric and acoustic guitar close things wonderfully, at least until that awful vocal shrieking returns.

"Infinite Supply" I believe this to be the laziest vocal melody on the album; the chord progression isn't interesting, but a great melody can take a boring chord progression and make it fabulous. I like the individual parts, especially the occasional bass flourishes, but this is just incredibly monotonous.

"Dormouse - An End" This is an even fuller version of the opening theme and interlude.

Review by lazland
4 stars I had listened to Phideaux a couple of times on Last FM, but never really seriously, until I downloaded this based upon strong recommendations as to how to spend my birthday money in December.

Boy, am I glad that I went along with the recommendations. This is a fantastic piece of work, lovingly crafted and executed, with a narrative revolving around a continuous struggle between dormouse & crayfish, but most obviously a metaphor for other types of eternal struggles. The narrative also includes an interesting (certainly for the first couple of listens) history of evolution lecture. You don't come across that every day!

I hear many influences in this album. Floyd, Parsons, Oldfield, and most definitely folk, including in a couple of passages, strangely, some of the harder crusty folk rock such as Tansads & Levellers that I still adore.

The playing is sublime. I have always loved piano led orchestral symphonic pieces, and this one does not disappoint, the vocals are spot on, and the ethereal chants add a majesty to the whole piece.

My only criticism is that the length could probably have been a tad shorter, especially in the second movement, but overall this has been a fine introduction to an artist rightly lauded on PA.

It will definitely move me to explore the back catalogue, and I can think of no better recommendation than that.

A strong four stars, and thanks to all my friends on PA who recommended it to me.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After my disappointment with Doomsday Afternoon I wasn't sure whether to approach this album or not. Would this one offer more of the same fluffy folk and balladry? Or would it try to be a bit more adventurous?

As it turned out, the sound of the album sits somewhere inbetween the light rock of The Great Leap and the ultra-light pop folk of Doomsday Afternoon. But the song writing is decidedly more proggy and in this case I believe that to be an improvement. While the songs are ballads at the base, there are plenty of rocking outbreaks and unexpected side-steps that make them more interesting and decisively less predictable.

The album starts very strongly with a string of atmospheric ballads, the sombre folk-prog epic Waiting For The Axe, the anthemic Hive Mind, the folksy Claws of a Crayfish waltz and the sad ballad My Sleeping Slave. The female vocals have become more prominent but are quite fitting here.

The middle part of the album is less interesting. After a couple of short pieces, Gift of Flame goes for old-school folk-rock of Jethro Tull's end 70's albums and the album loses its tension and freshness in the process. With The Search for Terrestrial Life - A Fistful of Fortitude, the downward spiral continues. Female cliché vocals similar to Maggie Reilly's drag down what wasn't a very exciting song to start with.

Act three of the album starts with the minor key piano theme of Love Theme from #7 which grows into a mainly instrumental progressive rock song, swirling organs, vivacious rhythms and sharp rocking guitars provide the wake-up call this album needed. With Storia Senti Phideaux gives a nod to Italian prog. Or should I say pop in this case? The Italian lyrics, the sweet flavoured melodies at the start and playful continuation should sure please RPI fans. Nice tune. Some of the vocal melodies of Infinite Supply sound slightly like those from Soundblast of the Fiendish album but they are nowhere near as good. A deliberate nod to earlier greatness or just not very inspired?

Considering the popularity of The Decemberist's 2009 album, it looks like classic folk rock is receiving some sort of come-back. Not something I was waiting for but if the quality remains as good as on these two albums I won't complain neither. Despite the classic rock attack in the middle part, it's a decent folk-rock album. 3 stars, probably 4 if you're really into folk.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars Maybe not as good as the masterpiece "Doomsday Afternoon", Phideaux's "Number Seven" is still one of the best albums of 2009, an excellent album of the Crossover Prog subgenre.

Phideaux, before this release, was working on a trilogy, which was formed by the two albums "the Great Leap" and "Doomsday Afternoon", and the album that will follow this one. So, in a way, this was a parenthesis, an original and unique concept album that differs from all the other albums of the band thematically speaking.

"Number Seven" is very similar to "Doomsday Afternoon" musically; haunting melodies, romantic atmospheres,folk, Italian prog, as well as some symphonic, chamber music, especially in the brief interludes ,and jazz. The album is formally divided in three parts: "Dormouse Insnared", "Dormouse Escapes", and "Dormouse Enlightened". This structure reminds of the classical operas, not only musically but also theatrically speaking ( think of Aeschylus' "Prometheus", divided in three parts).

Like each part implies, the concept of the album is of the adventures and misadventures of a dormouse, as well as Crayfishes, Thermonuclear cheese, pollution, ecology, and bleak post industrial landscapes, all of these narrated by a light violin, fragile vocals, aggressive keyboards, and nostalgic guitars.

If put to comparison, I must say that I enjoyed equally all three parts, since all of them have beautiful moments, as well as avoidable ones. The best moments are, in my opinion, "Hive Mind", "The Claws Of a Crayfish", "The Gift Of The Flame", "The Search For Terrestrial Life", "Love Theme from Number Seven", and "Storia Senti", one of the bands best songs ever.

In conclusion, a great and memorable album, very enjoyable and heartwarming, haunting and breathtaking. 4 stars seems like the perfect rating, for me.

Review by m2thek
3 stars *Disclosure at bottom

2007 saw the release of the wildly popular Doomsday Afternoon, by Phideaux, as the second part of a trilogy started the previous year with The Great Leap. Not wanting the pressure of following up Doomsday right away, Phideaux decided to record an unrelated album, which culminated in 2009's Number Seven. While not continuing the story of The Great Leap trilogy, from what I've heard of the previous album, the sound should be familiar to fans, and offer an enjoyable listen.

Although not part of a larger piece, Number Seven does tell a standalone story, starring the cover art's Dormouse, as we follow him through his travels. The story, and music, is split into three pieces, though the tale is not really the main draw of Number Seven. With cryptic lyrics that are only vaguely descriptive, and most likely form a metaphor for something else entirely, the music is really what drives the pieces forward. There are lots of memorable themes that get introduced and brought back later, such as the album's main acoustic guitar theme for the Dormouse, which form the basis of the opener, the interlude, and the closer. Unfortunately, while the album opens very strongly with its first act, the second begins to drag a little, and the finale never quite reaches the same heights of excitement and intensity of the introduction.

Act one, and the epic Waiting For the Axe to Fall in particular, is a great piece of music. It's very fluid, and dynamic, with wonderful use of piano themes, and a very satisfying ending that reprises its dark introduction in a grand way. While the following change of pace to a slower track is welcome, it outstays its welcome, and the excitement never picks up again for very long until the end of the third act. The instrumentation itself, although diverse, begins to get stale halfway through. There are electric guitars, synthesizers and saxophones to mix things up here and there, but the piano really dominates the music, which gives Number Seven a much softer and acoustic sound. The piano passages, while always well played and interesting, don't really present anything you haven't heard before once the first act has come to a close.

There are, however, a lot of great, emotional, singular moments tucked away within these later songs as well, and this is where the strength of the vocals comes out. The two vocalists here, Phideaux himself, and Ariel Farber, are a great pair. Phideaux has a pretty laid back singing style that, if he was by himself, would start to tire, but it's contrasted well by Farber's very emotional approach. The two trade off evenly on vocal passages, and though Farber often outshines Phideaux, the penultimate piece, Infinite Supply shows that Phideaux can be just as emotional, and creates what is probably the album's most touching and captivating piece.

If only act two had been able to hold its weight sandwiched between the first and third acts, Number Seven would be a much more compelling album as a whole. What we have instead is a piece with a lot of exciting moments, with a little too many that are less interesting in between. Even if it isn't the best album to listen to as a whole, there is enough good about Number Seven to make it enjoyable overall, and worth a bit of your time.

*The mixing of my album is different from the one listed here. Some of the songs on my copy are combined, but the music is the same; I can hear where the original track changes would happen. My copy has this track listing, and I'll be reviewing it as such:

1. "Dormouse - A Theme" - 1:08

2. "Waiting for the axe to fall" - 19:22

3. "Darkness at Noon" - 3:44

4. "Gift of the Flame" - 6:58

5. "Interview with a Dormouse" - 0:28

6. "Thermonuclear Cheese" - 1:55

7. "The Search for Terrestrial Life" - 8:14

8. "Love Theme From "Number Seven" - 13:50

9. "Infinite Supply" - 4:59

10. "Dormouse - An end - 2:17

Review by Warthur
4 stars Though I don't think it matches the goth-prog hybrid which was Doomsday Afternoon, I think Number 7 is a credible enough album in its own right. A three act rock opera about the adventures of a dormouse threatened by thermonuclear cheese, it's a rather silly affair, but the emphasis on short, snappy songs which flow together makes it work by barraging the listener with constantly shifting musical styles. Some of the acoustic troubadour-style renditions of Dormouse's theme put me in mind of the twee style of The Decemberists, for instance, and on the whole various pastoral and folk-focused prog bands' styles seem to be referenced over the course of the album. More leaning towards folk-prog than the goth-folk-prog of its predecessor, Number 7 shows that Phideaux is nothing if not versatile.
Review by kev rowland
4 stars It probably comes as no surprise to anyone, given the title, that is the seventh album from Phideaux Xavier (looks like everyone, Phideaux included, discounts his very first release some 11 years before the next, which was more a series of demos than an album). I have only just come across his work again, having not heard anything since 2007's 'Doomsday Afternoon', so this 2009 album is for me a 'new' release and the first think that went through my mind when playing it was that I had actually forgotten just how damn enjoyable his music is! He has again brought together a cast of musicians and singers to create an album that is incredibly layered, with lots going on, yet at all times is just so very easy to listen to indeed.

The use of different instruments to repeat musical motifs is inspired, while bringing in sax and violin adds a real sense of richness to the palette. In many ways it is hard to work out where to begin with this, as there is just so much going on, and so many different influences being brought to bear in what is an incredibly complex and rich piece of work. Some of the more obvious are Greenslade, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd, Rick Wakeman and VDGG, but to be honest it is possible to point at lots of different progressive rock bands and say that they have had a part to play in the end result. But, the one thing they all have in common is that they were in their heyday in the Seventies, and in many ways that is where this album belongs. The songs are commercial and catchy, and while there is little in the way of bombastic swathes of music, there is the impression that the sheer refusal to settle into any one particular style or form is taking us back to when it never really used to matter. It is almost as if punk never happened an instead we have highly trained and adept musicians delivering music that can only be played by such, no three chord wonders here, while all the singers have a distinct part, whether they are taking the lead or providing harmonies.

As I write this, I see that according to ProgArchives this album is currently #22 in the 2009 charts, but to my mind this should be far nearer the top than that. This is a gorgeous well rounded release that has really reminded me of just how strong an artist Phideaux is, and I look forward to hearing more in the very near future!

Latest members reviews

5 stars I gave this four stars originally, but now I'm coming back to adjust its rating to a well deserved 5 stars. I just culdn't stop listening to it. Like Phideaux's other recent material, it has a mysterious mood and smooth flow carried through most of the album. Male and female vocals working together ... (read more)

Report this review (#1214412) | Posted by Jordan677778 | Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A good album, but Phideaux is no longer the same ... I really enjoyed "Number Seven". He is much better than its successor, the ambiguous "Snowtorch". But it is not special. It is not charming. Not caught my attention. My first contact with this album that gave the songs available on the sit ... (read more)

Report this review (#475702) | Posted by voliveira | Monday, July 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Given that I don't really care about the trilogy of albums PHIDEAUX was making (at least in so far as it being a trilogy; the constituent parts are marvelous), I didn't mind him taking a break. And given our reward, I am especially not bothered. I actually prefer this album to DOOMSDAY AFTERNOO ... (read more)

Report this review (#409043) | Posted by Gorloche | Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dormouse vs. Crayfish round one. My rating: 9/10. When we expect the final chapter of the trilogy dedicated to ecosystem crisis started with the The Great Leap, Phideaux surprising all with a new album that is not the following of Doomsday Afternoon. To complicate more things, the disc i ... (read more)

Report this review (#397051) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Phideaux is a freakin' genius. In a fairer, more perfect world he would receive a lot more acknowledgment, fame and fortune because in the humble opinion of this reviewer, his last two albums have been two quite profound masterpieces. His forthcoming album is said to be a single composition last ... (read more)

Report this review (#314286) | Posted by Eapo_q42 | Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars - - - The Atomic Dormouse's Rocky Day at Crawfish Beach - - - Number 7, the seventh album by Phideaux? You don't say. A quick gripe here, if there is one naming trend that is played out it's just numbering your albums and not naming them. They can't all have the succinct memory engraining elega ... (read more)

Report this review (#254461) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars PAYING ATTENTION IS PAYING BACK "Dormouse, dormouse,..." this simple yet delightful refrain (out of the closing act of "Number 7"), made of voice, acoustic guitar and back organ, won't leave my brain soon. I eagerly started the first listens to last Phideaux opus in the wrong way: with loudspeake ... (read more)

Report this review (#241145) | Posted by ingmin68 | Thursday, September 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Let me begin my review by first saying how appreciative I am that Phideaux is out there making music like this! I gave this album 5 stars, not because it is the best they have released (that crown still belongs to Doomsday Afternoon) but because it is so enjoyable in every aspect. Like any good p ... (read more)

Report this review (#239684) | Posted by Movingmusic | Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I loved Doomsday Afternoon and gave it a 5 in fact. It is a masterpiece. This, however, is just a simple good album. It is pretty solid throughout but for me there are few standout tracks. It is pretty much a mood piece. The last album was chock full of development of solid musical themes. ... (read more)

Report this review (#237304) | Posted by irregardlessly | Saturday, September 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In the 1970's I became enraptured with symphonic progressive rock and have spent a good amount of time sampling this genre of music from Progressive Archives. Up until recently, I was convinced that music would never again reach a level of genius and complexity I thoroughly enjoy from such gr ... (read more)

Report this review (#236197) | Posted by todddale | Monday, August 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This a truly beautiful album. It is easily my favorite of 2009. I won't go into details as many here have already done so. I still have not found anyone who likes "Doomsday Afternoon" and does not like this album. Some have said that this is not background music, and it demands and active listen ... (read more)

Report this review (#235571) | Posted by JoeMcK | Friday, August 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4.5 stars I am of the opinion that we are living in a renascence period for prog music. Last decade and a half produced two genius composers. Although their music is completely different from each other, together they define the diametric boundaries of prog music for our times. Phideaux Xa ... (read more)

Report this review (#232066) | Posted by spleenache | Sunday, August 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I discovered this band in a fairly generic way a couple of months ago; through rather than from anyone's recommendation. After being hooked on "Doomsday Afternoon" for a few weeks, I knew I had to give their latest album a listen when it was released. It was by happy coincidence that it w ... (read more)

Report this review (#230804) | Posted by mazza558 | Monday, August 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've been struggling to make up my mind about this album. Probably the most expected album of 2009 for Yours Truly, so you can guess that the expectations were quite high... I must confess that I was disappointed at first listen... Now, was that because I was expecting, perhaps, a clone of Doo ... (read more)

Report this review (#230001) | Posted by Harkonnen | Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An Album of Subtleties Oops, the first time I typed that it looked like "subtitles" but even that wouldn't be too far off base, since Phideaux sings one of these songs in Italian! This is a wonderful album that is the quintessential "grow on you" kind of experience. Each time though I discov ... (read more)

Report this review (#226755) | Posted by rpmartino | Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In the year 2007 I kept hearing about this artist named Phideaux and the new album "Doomsday Afternoon". After hearing all the hype in the progressive rock community over this particularly album, I decided to pick it up, and I was immediately blown away by what I heard. I couldn't get enough of t ... (read more)

Report this review (#225340) | Posted by natewait | Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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