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Phideaux

Ghost Story

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve gotten to know the music of Phideaux over the last couple years and really like it. So, it seemed a good time to have a look at something from their catalog. This CD is a great combination of psychedelia and progressive rock. It has a lot in common with the Moody Blues at times, but at other points you might hear Gary Numan or Pink Floyd. All in all this is a diverse disc that should please. It’s not the masterpiece that their latest is, but it’s a great album nonetheless.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Everynight
The motif that leads this off reminds me a bit of Genesis, but they drop it way back down to electronics for the verse. This rises up with a fuzzy guitar based sound as they continue. They move things through a number of cool changes and this has just a bit of garage band charm. There are a lot of intriguing segments here and it really becomes quite a hard rocking tune.  The vocals here sometimes remind me of Gary Numan.
Feel The Radiation
If the previous track had some Gary Numan hints, this one speaks Numanese quite well. No, the whole track isn’t straight out of Numan’s catalog, but I could really hear a lot of this on a Numan CD. The vocals in particular have that sort of tendency. This is definitely a more straightforward rocker, but they still manage to pack some cool prog into the mix. It’s another great song.
A Curse of Miracles
A more balladic sound starts things off. They turn it toward more of a rock sound. As this carries on I pick up on a Moody Blues kind of texture at times. There are more modern rock elements in this mix, too. This is a unique and potent piece of music. It includes a killer higher energy jam, too. I hear bits of T-Rex on this at times, also. There is quite a tasty guitar solo. We get a reprise of the balladic segment later ant then it jams out into a powerhouse prog rock meets classic rock sound.
Kiteman
 A crunchy sound brings this in and when they drop it back for the verse it seems to blend psychedelia with The Moody Blues’ more rocking material. They shift it out later into a killer soaring instrumental section and then drop it way down to continue. This mellower section has a bit of Jethro Tull sort of texture to it. When the vocals come in over the top of this, though, were back into the golden age of psychedelia. They power it back out in fine fashion. Then music is used as the backdrop for a spoken vocal section. Some rather Hawkwind-like vocals join as they move this through the outro.
Wily Creilly
Intricate and mellow music starts us off here. It feels a bit like Genesis at times. They work through this for a while and then shift to weird ambience. They power out from there into crunchy territory with proggy keyboards. As the vocals enter I feel it’s sort of a combination of Tomorrow, David Bowie and “Flower People” era Spinal Tap. They alternate between harder rocking sections and mellower balladic motifs, but psychedelia is seriously the order of the day on this piece. When the power it up for the more anthemic music this is even more apparent. The instrumental section with its prog meets psychedelia approach is awesome. I can hear some early (Barrett era) Pink Floyd at times on this, too.

Beyond the Shadow of Doubt
The motif that starts this is much more pretty and traditional progressive rock in nature. This builds up feeling very much like The Moody Blues. There are some psychedelic sounds within this structure later. They include this cool little “robotic” voice later as a nice touch. This becomes an extremely powerful musical motif as they carry onward. Around the four minute mark this shifts out into a killer prog instrumental jam that feels a bit like both ELP and Yes. This doesn’t stay around long, though. Instead they move it out to some sounds that are just a little Hawkwind-like. Then it heads out to a retro tinged instrumental segment. A synthesized voice takes the chorus and then they launch out into another killer instrumental section from there. This climaxes and a swirling keyboard pattern is all that’s left behind. Eventually other elements join and they start to bring the track back upward. This resolves into a melodic ballad structure that is eventually faded down to end the song. It’s a powerful piece of music and my favorite track on show here.

Ghostforest
Weird sounds are the first thing we hear on this one. It comes in as a harder rocking jam that again has some psychedelic tendencies. The vocals seem to combine Gary Numan and David Bowie. They work through some interesting variations and alterations on this piece. Overall this is a more straightforward composition, but they bring the progressive rock to the table through some great instrumental movements.

Universally
Starting much more delicately than a lot of the other material here, this is quite pretty. It’s definitely a balladic piece of music. This song is more constant than a lot of the other music here, too. In fact, it’s about four and a half minutes into the track before they really change it out. Instead they work this one through by rethinking and intensifying the musical themes.

Come Out Tonight
They close things with another track that is essentially a powered up ballad. This one is still unique and includes some unusual segments. It’s one of the more potent tracks on the disc and a great way to end.
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