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Clockwork (USA) - 1999 - "Surface Tension"
(54 min, "Sensory" / "The Laser's Edge")


*****

Tracklist:

1. Secrets of Centuries 7-09

   (Gammarino, Pignatelli / Sciamanna)

2. One Wing 5-44

   (Pignatelli / Gillin, Pignatelli)

3. East of Knowing 3-00 (inst.)

   (Pignatelli)

4. If These Walls Could Talk 5-40

   (Pignatelli / Pignatelli)

5. The Guardian of Eden 7-53

   (Gillin, Pignatelli / Gillin)

6. The Convolution Box 8-15 (inst.)

   (Pignatelli, Gammarino, Sciamanna, Pignone)

7. Smile Under Sad Eyes 4-00

   (Gammarino, Pignatelli / Gillin)

8. Design of Enlightenment 12-46

   (Pignatelli / Gammarino)



Line-up: 

Chris Pignatelli - guitars, keyboards

M. Thomas Gammarino - guitars

Douglas J. M. Gillin - vocals, keyboards, flute

Anthony Sciamanna - drums & percussion

Chris Pignone - bass guitars



Guest Musicians: 

Sean Malone (of Gordian Knot, ex-Cynic)

- grand stick (on 3)

Joel Allman

- upright bass (on 1)



Produced by Clockwork & James Forbes.

Recorded by James Forbes

at "Vortex Sound Inc." recording studios,

Lindenvold, New Jersey, USA.

Mixed by Vic Stevens

at "Giant Steps" studio, Absecon, NJ.

Mastered by Bob Katz

at "Digital Domain".

The Laser's Edge online: http://www.lasercd.com/

Prologue. Thierry Sportouche, the editor of Acid Dragon magazine, has sent this CD especially for my review, as I am one of the five reviewers for Acid Dragon. Until now, I wasn't acquainted with the music of Clockwork.

The Album. Stylistically, Clockwork's "Surface Tension" album represents quite an original, on the whole, blend of Classic Art (Symphonic) Rock and Progressive Metal, though there also are the Space Rock parts sound in places. Although there are no revolutionary ideas, I haven't noticed any distinct influences in the music of Clockwork. Compositionally, all of the album's eight tracks are very interesting and most of them are filled with more than moderately complex and very diverse arrangements. Although the majority of compositions that are featured on the album were created within the frame of a unified stylistics, the presence of Smile Under Sad Eyes (which is a song of a pure Symphonic Rock) among them is more than justified. The musicianship of each of the band members, including the singing of Douglas Gillin, is excellent, as well as their joint performances. Complexity drives on the stony fields and all of the other cross counties of vintage Symphonic Rock. Sudden falls to the depths of Space Rock and raises to the high-speed routes of Prog Metal, the fluid and high-speed solos of electric guitars, tasteful passages of flute, acoustic guitar, keyboard, and piano, as well as interplay between all of these instruments, are the main characteristics of most of the tracks of the album. The songs If These Walls Could Talk, The Guardian of Eden, and Design of Enlightenment (tracks 4, 5, & 8), as well as both of the instrumental compositions (The Convolution Box and East of Knowing: tracks 6 & 3), are, however, especially rich in diverse arrangements with lots of changes in musical directions and dimensions, tempos and moods, etc. Surprisingly, it's turned out to be that the instrumental piece with the word "East" in its title is really full of Eastern flavours created by wonderful solos and interplay between the flute and acoustic guitars. The Guardian of Eden is another song that contains specific colours: this time, these are passages of Spanish guitar. While there are beautiful duets and trios of flute, acoustic guitar, and keyboards on the only 'symphonic' song of the album, Smile Under Sad Eyes, the absence of changes of tempo makes it a bit monotonous. Also, a couple of short yet rather optimistic refrains with several backing vocals, that feature most of the songs along with mostly dramatic parts of lead vocals, sound quite contrasting with regard to the latter.

Summary. What's central, though, are the instrumental arrangements throughout the album, i.e. not only in (lots of separate) instrumental parts, but along with all of the vocal parts as well. Also, the lead vocals are, on the most part, just wonderful. I can't say Clockwork's "Surface Tension" is a masterpiece, but all in all, in the least, this is a very good album.

VM. December 11, 2001


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