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Atik Maze - 2009 - "The Man behind the Lock"

(69:15, 'Atik Maze')

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Painting Mirrors 7:11
2.  The End of the World 9:25
3.  The Man behind the Lock 7:12
4.  Out of Time 10:42
5.  Fragments 7:32
6.  Web 8:59
7.  Once Upon a Time 12:31
8.  Your Head Illudes You 5:43


Joao Silva – guitars 
Isaac Batista – bass 
Ricardo Baptista – drums 
Dario Jeronimo – vocals 

Prolusion. ATIK MAZE, from Portugal, was formed in 2005 upon the initiative of long time musical partners, guitarist Joao Silva and drummer Ricardo Baptista. Bassist Isaac Batista hooked up with them shortly afterward and with the later addition of vocalist Dario Jeronimo the band had finalized its line-up. The musicians started recording material from 2007 and onwards, and in the summer of 2009 they issued their debut album “The Man behind the Lock”.

Analysis. The contents of this debut album have been described by the band as "containing extraordinary diversity, like a best selling novel, there's a surprise around every corner". A tough promise to keep, and although there is quite a lot of variation to be heard on this venture I can't really say that the band manages to sustain a great degree of diversity in its approach. The stylistic expression is pretty much based around guitars and vocals. The former resides somewhere in between U2, Marillion and Rush in general scope, with plucked wandering patterns, echoing melodic licks and more energetic staccato bursts as the dominant expressions. Some sequences feature toned-down, heavy riffs which add a bit in the diversity department, but the main and most characteristic traits of the six-string are the aspects mentioned previously. And like the acts mentioned as probable influences on Atik Maze, the general mood provided is of the lighter variety. The compositions as such feature many vocal passages and frontman Jeronimo has almost as many spoken as singing parts in these ventures, in quite a few cases adding theatrical touches to his performance – in particular on the spoken passages, which are pretty natural and odd. He has a good voice, but perhaps not quite developed enough to be given the responsibility to basically carry most of the songs on this creation. He's a talented musician by all means, but some of the theatrics in particular should not have been used in this setting in my personal opinion: on a few occasions these stunts did make me think of the Rocky Horror Picture Show musical. Apart from that he's a more than able vocalist and one quite a few acts can envy Atik Maze. The bass and especially the drums bring jazz influences into this merry musical cocktail. The latter in particular are given a prominent place in the mix, and serve up some pretty insistent and complex rhythmic backdrops to most tracks on this album. A bit too dominant on many excursions in my opinion though – I do like challenging music, but prefer the challenging aspects of any given tune to be a bit more on the subtle side. And despite the rather light guitar tones and seemingly simplistic themes explored by that instrument, the overall effect here is music that does take some concentration to grasp. The guitar licks tend to be of the echoing variety, bordering on psychedelic at times, and when combined with insistent and energetic jazz-flavored drum patterns, the soundscape often becomes rather chaotic. There's a plethora of sounds to keep track of, and when the bass at times serves up melody lines creating subtle dissonances or disharmonies in combination with the guitar it does take a bit of effort to digest the totality so to speak. Personally I didn't find this effort that captivating: it’s a bit too repetitive for my taste, and I would have preferred the songs to be somewhat shorter due to that. Still, those are personal preferences and others may well have a different opinion as far as those aspects of the album are concerned.

Conclusion. Atik Maze serves up some rather challenging music hidden inside art rock of the lighter variety on this production, with strong leanings towards jazz-fusion, the latter first and foremost due to the explorations by the drums and bass. Those who might fancy a jazzed up blend of acts like Marillion, Rush and U2 could find the album to be worth checking out further, and fans of challenging art rock in general may also want to have a go on this one.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 2, 2010
The Rating Room

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Atik Maze


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