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(46:04 / Sensory Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Berserker Hypothesis 3:55 2. Sinusoid Mirage 6:58 3. Interface 5:41 4. Gamma Knife 8:02 5. Rhizome 4:19 6. Reticular Consciousness 17:03 LINEUP: Nathan Sapp - guitars; keyboards Hunter Ginn - drums; piano Ben Simpkins - bass, guitar
Prolusion. The US band CANVAS SOLARIS was formed in 1999 by Nathan Sapp, Hunter Ginn and Jimmy McCall, but Jimmy quit two years later and was replaced by Ben Simpkins. Yet I just wanted that you, readers, take note that it's the same three musicians, listed in the lineup above, who are behind all four of the outfit's albums, namely "Spatial Design" (2002), "Sublimation" (2004), "Penumbra Diffuse" (2006) and "Cortical Tectonics", only some fifteen months separating this their new release from its predecessor.
Analysis. Overall, there is so much in common between Canvas Solaris's two latest outings that my review of "Penumbra Diffuse" could in many ways serve as a guiding source in this particular case too. However I'd better repeat myself when / if it's necessary instead of doing a short review on this album, especially since it just amazes me, revealing more and more subtly hidden nuances with each successive listen. Like real musical alchemists, Canvas Solaris are well aware of a recipe for major prog-metal success. To the style that is exclusively their own, they add a heaping spoonful of Watchtower's "Control & Resistance", a dose of "Sophisticated" by Sieges Even, and use Voivod's "Dimension Hatross" as a filler. The result is simply ecstatic and is hard-hitting, deep, ever-changing instrumental Techno Prog-Metal, in speed (only!) at times approaching Grindcore, where even most of the machine-gun fire-like solos sound elegant, if not just beautiful, and where the use of odd meters seems to be as endless as the number of sudden transitions. The trio properly used the studio possibilities, and since Ben Simpkins takes virtually the duties of both bassist and guitarist, two dueling guitars are always part of the picture, the band now sounding as a quartet, now even as a quintet - when Nathan Sapp occasionally deploys synthesizers. The music is so eclectic and intricate that it seems at times it's Hunter Ginn's drumming alone that's holding it all together. Well, I've just tried to give you an idea what my favorite tracks here, Berserker Hypothesis and Gamma Knife, are both about - throughout, as there is no place to rest on each, even for the very advanced listener. The last two thirds of Sinusoid Mirage are just the same story, while during its first two sections that piece develops from soft keyboards-laden symphonic Space Rock to atmospheric Space Fusion. Rhizome would've been mentioned in the previous sentence if its second introductory theme hadn't been in the style of King Crimson's Discipline whose influence, in turn, is obvious almost everywhere on Interface, even though Canvas Solaris have done all their best to strongly modify the matter. This is a beautiful melodic art-rock piece, the only track on the disc free of any hard textures, located right there where it should be. The 17-minute epic Reticular Consciousness concludes the recording and is a wonderful journey through all the styles and influences available on the previous tracks, excluding its finale where the band turn to purely electronic music, with the recurring synthesizer passage inevitably evoking Tangerine Dream circa "Tangram".
Conclusion. Despite the appearance of some outside factors in their music, Canvas Solaris have just endowed us, fans, with their best creation to date. One of the most intricate and, still, original albums I've heard this year, "Cortical Tectonics" will definitely be part of my Top-20-2007. A must.
VM: Agst 14, 2007
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