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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Phideaux

313

Review by Gary Hill

The more I hear from Phideaux the more I’m convinced they are one of the coolest bands around. I keep digging back into their older material here and am never disappointed. This disc might not be quite as strong as some of their other discs, but in actuality it has some incredible music on it. These guys have an uncanny ability to combine moody progressive rock with a pop sensibility and make it work. What can you say except that if you pick up a Phideaux album, I don’t care which one, you can’t go wrong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Railyard
A piano based balladic approach is joined by some more spacey elements. The music gets more powerful as the vocals enter and this is an organic but quite cool track that has a lot in common with modern Marillion and Porcupine Tree. It’s quite beautiful at times. The segment with layered vocals is especially nice, but this whole song works quite well. It drops way down to a stripped down version of itself later and when they build it up from there it has a bit of a space rock texture to it.

Have You Hugged Your Robot?
A rather Beatles turned hard rock approach leads this off. We get a riff from “Hall of the Mountain King” and they move out into a catchy and very cool space rock styled jam. This is like Jelly Fish meets Hawkwind. As good as the first track was this blows it totally out of the water. It’s catchy and fun and yet quirky. I also hear some Kraftwerk and Klaatu on this.
A Storm of Cats
Well, here we get another powerful and yet catchy jam. This has elements of The Beatles, hints of Procol Harum, echoes of modern Mariilion and bits of Pink Floyd in the mix. It just continues the trend of one great song after another.

Never Gonna Go
This comes in with a dramatically powerful instrumental journey. They drop it back for the verse. This is a little over the top in terms of its theatrical approach. Still, it’s got a Celtic sort of feel to it and has some ties to early Pink Floyd. I like this a lot, despite the fact that it’s a little too much in some points. It gets pretty powerful later on, too.

Pyramid
I love the cool rhythmic structure that drives this and the science fiction infused keyboards that whirr over the top of this. When they move it out into the song proper I hear Beatles elements but also some sounds that are more akin to Klaatu. This gets quite a cool treatment with varying vocals coming over here and there. The closing jam on this is sort of one part Pink Floyd and one part Porcupine Tree.
There's Only One of You
The early portions of this song don’t do that much for me. When they power out, though and it gets a lot more involved it’s just plain incredible.
Orangutan
Here’s another track that has the more is more approach. This starts in a stripped down balladic approach that works only so well. When they bring it up, though, there’s a great science fiction weirdness meets progressive rock style. That section vindicates the rest of the number.
Sick Of Me
This is a powerhouse jam that’s just somewhat raw but very cool There’s a B-52’s sort of texture at times, but this is definitely progressive rock. The keyboard solo is especially noteworthy. A killer “robot” voice segment later reminds me of Alan Parsons, ELO and Klaatu rolled in with some Pink Floyd.
In Search of Bitter Ore
Leaner and much like early Pink Floyd, this is cool and a nice change of pace. It’s a point where the less is more tactic works. They do create some additional layers mid-song, but I think this one works as well as it does partly because of their restraint.
Body To Space
Here’s another where they make minimalism work. The opening segments are based on a quirky piano and vocal sound. They build it up into some cool space rock later and then drop it back to an acoustic guitar based excursion with whispy female vocals. This is shifted out later to a textural sort of journey that’s quite cool.
Watching Machine
In a total change of pace this is space meets psychedelia. It’s high energy, quirky and fun. I wouldn’t consider it as my favorite track here, but it’s quite cool.
Run Singing Tiger
I mentioned The B-52’s a few tracks back. The lyrical hook on this really reminds me of their song “Roam.” Of course that’s the only comparison. This comes in as a fairly stripped down journey and turns more powered up as they continue onward. It’s another strong cut, although perhaps a bit less successful than some of the other material.
Benediction
This is started with a voice speaking to the group from the control booth. It sounds so huge it’s almost like the voice of God. In any event, what we get for a track is a moody piano based ballad that has a lot of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree in it. This is pretty and works quite well to create a satisfying conclusion to the disc.
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