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Attica - 2004 - "You Are in Danger"

(59 min, Carbon 7)


*****
                 
TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Wake Up 6:18
2.  Sweet Rain 4:12
3.  Sober Blues 7:15
4.  Urban Fields 4:24
5.  Monsoon Girl 5:20
6.  Riverman 4:30
7.  Telefascination 4:37
8.  Funny Time 3:32
9.  Black & White 2:45
10. Love Is Real 3:42
11. 127 Bis 2:14
12. Perfect Bubble 5:28
13. Alles Wandelt Sich 5:05

All tracks: by Attica, except 6: N Drake. 
Produced by Attica & G Segers.

LINEUP:

Amaury Massion - lead vocals; trumpet & flugelhorn
Gilles Mortiaux - electric guitar; analog keys; b/vocals
Max Genderbien - electric & acoustic guitar
Cyrille De Haes - fretless & double bass
Colin De Bruyne - drums; b/vocals
With:
Patrick Duflot - baritone sax (2, 7)
Philippe Arnould - tenor sax (2, 7)
Nicolas Lefevre - alto sax (2, 7)
Jordi Grougnard - soprano sax (2, 7)
Mario Coppola - trumpet (2, 7)
Bernard Prouvier - cello (3)

Prolusion. The bio of ATTICA, published on their website, doesn't say whether any of the members were part of some other outfit before, so this appears to be a young band. It was formed in September 2002 in Belgium's capital, Brussels, and "You Are in Danger" is their debut album. Once and over again, the most important thing I came away with after I got acquainted with this material is that even those grown wise with experience may be fooled by the first impression, so no one should judge what he's heard after an initial listen, especially when it concerns progressive music.

Analysis. Until now, I was almost certain that Belgium's Carbon 7 Records is the domain of exclusively 'serious' genres, such as RIO, Avant-garde Jazz, Neoclassical music and the like. In short, Attica's "You Are in Danger" has become the label's first production that didn't meet my initial conception of its progressive strategy. Upon the first spin, the stuff seemed to be quite simple from a progressive standpoint. I've given three listens to the album already, and yet, it still remains in many ways an enigma to me. Some of the most distinctive features and tendencies peculiar to this music have been chewed, swallowed and, finally, digested. Like those in Roger Waters' solo stuff, the lyrics (they're in English) play a highly significant role in the creation of Attica. Being apolitical in a general sense, the lyrics, however, have an open social protest, often curiously blended with love romanticism, and are intelligent enough to be appreciated. While the music is mostly vocal-based, the instrumental background is relatively straightforward only on the first two tracks. On the others, the players do their job well, constantly building pretty fancy ornaments around the band's main man Amaury Massion's emotional singing, which is at times also very diverse, ranging from masculine baritone to tenor to, rarely, high-pitched vocals. Nevertheless, each of the thirteen songs, without exception, has at least one instrumental section, where the band either does atmospheric, yet, pretty eclectic arrangements, with two guitars and bass dueling, or whips up some powerful jams, involving guitars, bass, drums and trumpet. The first two songs: Wake Up and Sweet Rain, and also Black & White, show that the band's principal benefactor is Pink Floyd, and there is rather much in common between these and some of Pink Floyd's classic works indeed. Later on, the band much more successfully avoided influences. Most of the other tracks only at times and only latently pointing Roger Waters and Tom Waits out as Attica's others teachers in absentia, though the band may not realize that. Benefactors do not always reveal themselves to the artists on a cognitive level, especially if those tend to be as much original as possible from the beginning of their creative way, as it is in this very case. To generalize the picture, I'd say the band has started from where Mr. Waters stopped on his "Amused to Death" album and developed into something only barely comparable with that. The presence of subtle improvisations almost everywhere in this material is only one of the arguments eloquently speaking in favor of the fact. The album's primary style I see as a blend of space music-tinged Art-Rock and quasi Jazz-Fusion, at times with elements of psychedelics, the latter of the basic components being solidly unique by its nature. The exceptions include the five tracks located right in the middle of the album. Monsoon Girl, Telefascination and Love Is Real are in places notable for a heavy Metal-like sound. Black & White is a meaty Blues Rock with occasional dark sides (of the moon). Finally, Riverman, the one penned by an outsider, Nick Drake, and not by the band, is a romantic ballad and is Swing in its classic form. The presence of several brass players on a couple of tracks is symbolic rather than vice versa. On some songs Amaury plays trumpet alone, but does it more affectively than the session musicians on the other songs.

Conclusion. Although vocal heavy, this music isn't simple. It possesses a powerful mesmeric energy and has a lot of hidden nuances, but all of this will transform into a saturated, cohesive mosaics only after a few successive listens to the album. Recommended in general, while fans of Roger Waters, Pink Floyd and Tom Waits might be in heaven.

VM: April 21, 2005


Related Links:

Carbon 7 Records
Attica


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