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Silhouette - Across The Rubicon CD (album) cover

ACROSS THE RUBICON

Silhouette

 

Neo-Prog

3.99 | 298 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I haven't been so giddy in a while (yeah, a couple of weeks!) , sinking my ears into this sublime recording from Silhouette, a new discovery for me fueled by Easy Livin's splendid review, which did what it was designed to = tempt me into submission! "Across the Rubicon" has all the goods I love in prog, firstly a wide symphonic scope, massive keyboard bombast on one hand while the other tinkles elegant piano, a resolute guitar that is unafraid to bolster the palette with whopping riffs and resonating solos (Brian de Graeve) . The bass and drums are by and large ultra-solid with Dutch prog bands and this is no exception. All four instrumentalists sing, both leads and backing, with clear, accent less English. To put the proverbial cherry on the sundae, the shimmering Ed Unitsky handles the sublime artwork, confirming him again as the heir apparent to the "Dean".

The title track serves as brief overture, getting the unexpecting listener into the mood, like a good anesthetic, a suave and sultry opening torpedo. The 11minute + "Breathe' gets things straight into overdrive, a buzzing, almost space-rock riff which evolves into a delicate piano etude, the lead guitar wasting little time to make an impact both with his axe and the amazing vocals that follow. Smooth as breathing fresh mountain air. Organist Erik Laan rips at his Hammond and then his synths unfurl a few wicked solos. De Graeve then moves into the spotlight, flickering wildly at his fretboard, all brilliantly interwoven, as the bass and drums pursue with authority. Toss in some wavy mellotron-like synthesis, ornate piano and the sonic dream is achieved in spades. The soft mid-section morphs into some harder edged stuff with some sumptuous slide work and more of that Hammond sound. Just marvelous!

"Empty Places" shows off their balladry skills, a melancholic voyage recalling memories of a life that no longer remains, a simplicity that is gone, a lifestyle that is shockingly materialistic and technological , turning values into phantom reveries. The urgent vocals can recall fellow Dutch proggers Nice Beaver.

The majestic "When Snow' Falling Down" sort of segues nicely, keeping the 'lost hometown' feel, the synths stir up images of spiraling flakes of white wonder, delicate acoustic guitar and well-appointed vocals once again. The music is atmospheric and wispy, highly romantic and extremely suggestive of a distant glacial shadow, slowly melting into rivulets of burnished memory. De Graeve crafts an optimistic solo, out of the blue and original. A child-like choir finishes this off convincingly and already confirms the magnificent quality of this album, with more jewels to come.

"Anybody" is another 11 minute masterpiece, choir-mellotron ushering in a desolate lament that kicks up some serious steam, where operatic vocals dominate, flush with deranged husky despair. A slippery synthesizer solo scours the dial, oscillators kept in full control which only increases into a full-blown symphonic progslide of magnum force, mellotrons, organs and string synths spouting colossal clouds of steam

"Grendel Memories" is next and the title is self-explanatory, a mid-sized tribute to the classic Marillion piece and a highlight track (even though every second up to now has been exhilarating!), blazing organ screening the road ahead. The sweet vocals are passionate and despairing, a cool trait when dealing with such overt melancholia. Another hallmark the band possesses is their desire and ability to ratchet up the emotion at moments notice, giving each piece some deliberate "OOMPH" .

"Nothing" is another bluesy ballad, a killer track that sticks to the nodes from the very first spin through, a simply luxurious love song, with the husky voice leading the plaintive "listen to my heart, I am not playing a game", perhaps not up there with 'Neil Peartian cosmodrama' but it works because the music is razor-sharp. This went on my playlist immediately, a 4 minute moment of utter beauty.

Closing out this sensational recording is the appropriately titled "Don't Stop this Movie", another 11 minute + epic with its luminous flurries of waltzing guitar and regal keys. The sweet vocals are back and I am in gagaland, what a superb little album, accessible and yet symphonic, not overtly complex but foxily executed with precision, strategy and sensitivity. "Nobody knows" chorus is repeated endlessly, shockingly poignant.

Absolutely stellar release, which I intend to enjoy for many years to come. Intelligent neo- symphonic prog that is never boring or redundant. I think I like this more than Knight Area or maybe even Odyssice (which is saying a lot, as I love them big time) !

Now if the Dutch could only get their footy team working as a team ??Holland prog rules in the meantime.

5 shadowy Julius Caesars

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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