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VIVIAN

Pressure Makes Diamonds

Review by Gary Hill

You might expect, from the name of this act, that it's a solo artist. That's not true. Vivian is a duo made up of Alana Rolfe and Timo Massa. The music here is probably not what you'd expect, either. This is very unique. I've included it under progressive rock because I think it's art rock, and that's where we put art rock. That said, there are moments that fall under the prog heading. I can make out leanings toward things from Curved Air to Kate Bush and Eurythmics at different times. All in all, this is an effective, if unexpected, release.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Unravel
There is an open air vibe to this cut, leaving a lot of room in the mix. The music has an unusual electronic angle. Overall, though, the song is very jazzy. This is the very definition of art music, but yet has a pop edge to it. There are almost operatic vocals later along with some pseudo-symphonic elements, really upping the art factor.
Pressure Makes Diamonds
While this has more of a pure pop groove to it, those artsy angles are still heavily in play. I dig the noisier section later a lot.
Black Lodge
This cut really does have a jazzy, proggy feeling to it. For some reason I'm even reminded of Curved Air just a little bit. The vocal arrangement on this is classic and stylish, and the artsy concepts work so well here. This might be my favorite song of the album.
Only Here
Energetic and accessible pop merges with art music ideas and more to create another particularly effective and unusual track. There is some especially tasty synthesizer work on the instrumental break.
Blood Rising
This has more of an R&B, house groove to it. Yet, there are still plenty of art tendencies. The cut leans toward techno, but also has world music things at play. This is another standout track.
And Everybody Knows
Jazz, pop rock and more merge here. I can hear hints of Kate Bush on this piece. It's definitely artsy, but also accessible.
It Will Be Fine
Here I am reminded of The Eurythmics. This is perhaps the least directly artsy cut here, but it's also very strong. The instrumental break really rocks.
All On Me
The opening on this is quite prog rock like. This cut is moody, but also very powerful. It's artsy and definitely has some neo-prog tendencies in place.
Dom If You Want To
There is a dramatic jazzy art music concept here. This has such a tasty little groove to it.
Tomorrow Never Comes
This comes in moody. It works to a tasty almost funky groove that works really well. There is a real house music, dance club feeling to this. Yet, it still has some proggy tendencies, too. This is particularly effective.
Stop My Heart
This seems to have elements of both the Kate Bush and Eurythmics influences mentioned earlier. It's an energized and classy tune.
 
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