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TRACK LIST: 1. They 8:46 2. So Low 3:40 3. Anger-1-2 9:19 4. Big Face 7:47 5. Anger-3 2:34 6. Don’t Tell the Kids 3:40 7. Macondo 5:16 8. Conspiracy 5:34 9. Poussiere de Lumiere 4:26 LINEUP: Stephane Desbiens – guitars; keyboards; vocals Mathieu Gosselin – basses, Stick Jean Gosselin – drums With: William Foy – violin Sandra Poulin – violin Myriam Boutin – cello Giowany Arteaga – saxophone (1, 8)
Prolusion. The recording under review is the self-titled album by BIG FACE, an outfit whose three official members are just the same men who form the Canadian band The D Project. It seems they chose another moniker for this particular project because all of its music and lyrics are written alone by Francis Foy (who, in addition, has produced the album), but not by the latter band itself. Besides the ones who are listed above, it features a few more singers and musicians, each of whom is only present on a single piece, with a certain Tony Levin playing bass on the opening track.
Analysis. Although the album is highly diverse or, perhaps, even motley, in style, the terms of “modern” and “fashionable” are quite applicable to it in its entirety, in some cases as key words. There are nine tracks here, and the longest one, Anger-1-2 (9:20), is, well, somewhat weightier than a standard radio-friendly AOR song – mainly due to the presence of a violin trio, which sonically enriches the music (slightly diversifying it along the way) everywhere it is – on about a half of the tracks, to be more precise. There are also some bright guitar leads, evoking so-called guitar hero histrionics, but while those aren’t too flashy, they’re incompatible with the songs’ basic style. The same words are in many ways relevant to such pieces as So Low, Don’t Tell the Kids and the title track (7:47), all of which represent a sort of AOR take on Yes circa 1983, the first of these, the properly titled So Low, sounding straighter than Asia did on its second release “Alpha” (which I would have subtitled as “Dance”). Macondo is another fairly disappointing track. Although featuring two very different thematic storylines, it has stuck in my memory for the weaker one, which is overloaded with female vocals, instantly evoking those in Pink Floyd, and is prolonged and repetitive alike. The lead singing is also ‘your’ typical rock fare, in all cases: although four different vocalists took part in the project, there is nothing outstanding in that field or, in other words, nothing that would be worthy of special mention. The remaining four tracks, Poussiere de Lumiere, They, Anger-3 and Conspiracy, all leave a better impression, especially as regards their instrumental context. Here, the band’s musical style has carried forward Neo Prog with elements of Jazz Fusion and heavy music, and while the former two pieces reveal no obvious influences, both of the others are strongly reminiscent of Rabin-era Yes stuff. Either way, the band has taken a solid step forward in diversity, particularly on Conspiracy (which is the only instrumental here, using quirky acoustic guitar passages as its intro), albeit those hoping for the classic progressive rock sound still should look elsewhere.
Conclusion. The “Big Face” album is okayish at best, since only about a half of it will or, rather, may be of interest of progressive rock lovers. Overall, it is even less impressive than either of those by The D Project, both of which, while being heavily influenced by Pink Floyd, at least contain no ordinary AOR songs.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: September 14, 2011
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