[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(49:00 / 'CWE')
TRACK LIST: 1. Amygdala 5:31 2. Isis the Prism 6:01 3. Decade of the Brain 4:38 4. Boy Meets World 4:15 5. Eurobeat 6:17 6. FeMalice 6:19 7. Interbeing 5:33 8. Ikarus 4:44 9. Leaving Lotus 5:38 LINEUP: Benjamin Schwenen - guitar, synth-guitar; programming Thorsten Hamitz - drums, percussion; programming HD Lorenz - bass
Prolusion. The three men whose names figure in the lineup above live in Germany, one of the first outposts of earthly human civilization, while the name of their band, COUNTER-WORLD EXPERIENCE (CWE hereinafter), appeared on the progressive rock map not too lately, in 2001. "Leaving Lotus" is the third studio album by the trio, following "Fraktal" (2004) and "Always Home" (2001), though they aren't a studio project. They've managed to take part in most of the prog rock festivals that have been held in their native land since the beginning of the 2000s.
Analysis. To put it in a general way, CWE are a power guitar trio who produce a heavy, Prog-Metal related sound by using art-rock and quasi jazz-fusion devices and techniques, from time to time deploying kind of symphonic and spacey atmospherics, seeing that there is also a synth-guitar in the group's instrumentation. Since bass is also a guitar in the end:-), "Living Lotus" is a very guitar-oriented album, with plenty of heavy riffing and more delicate soloing as well, where the axemen, guitarist Benjamin Schwenen and bassist HD Lorenz, seem to compete in inventiveness with each other, and also with the battery commander, Thorsten Hamitz, whose workmanship in his own sphere of action is, well, no less impressive. In other words, each instrument is a showcase instrument in this show, no matter that this conclusion seems to be woven of tautologies. With such a wide range of sonic constructions that suggest "Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond" by Zero Hour, "Focus" by Cynic, "Cortical Tectonics" by Canvas Solaris, "Steps" by Sieges Even, "2112" by Rush, Djam Karet's "Recollection Harvest", Garden Wall's "Towards the Silence", Mekong Delta's "Visions Fugitives", Toxik's "Think This", Testament's "Low" and more, this is certainly one of the most diverse albums I've heard this year, the number of bands and creations cited serving as evidence of the trio's breadth and originality of thinking rather than indicating the scale with which they've investigated the legacy of the genre's past (which would've also been praiseworthy had it been really attainable). Only one of the nine tracks present, Isis the Prism, is marked with signs of a direct influence, more than once evoking Rush, though in general, this is one of the most wide-reaching musical entities here, its nearest relations in style being Amygdala, Decade of the Brain and Boy Meets World. The first two of these are both dominated by hard arrangements with distinct techno-metal tendencies and are the heaviest tracks on the disc. The latter piece and the aforesaid Isis the Prism both more often alternate, say, battle scenes with softer, art-rock and quasi jazz-fusion passages. As the main provider of metalloids, the electric guitar is always in the foreground within the corresponding sections, whilst otherwise there is either the bass improvising at the fore or (most often) no pronounced lead instruments, the musicians much more frequently sharing than trading off the lead. The three concluding pieces, Interbeing, Ikarus and the title track, all quite well suit the prevalent style too. Where these differ from the previously described compositions is that their sections with harder and softer arrangements most often strictly alternate with each other, but even more so that the latter usually represent atmospheric Space Fusion. Eurobeat is free of any heaviness, best of all reflecting the trio's artistry as regards the other two components of their overall style, Art-Rock and quasi Jazz-Fusion. Tangerine Windows of Solace from the second Sieges Even album, "Steps", can serve as a relative reference point. Finally FeMalice is a beautiful piece made up predominantly of acoustic guitar patterns, the instrument sounding like it's being played through a delay processor.
Conclusion. Here I should explain why I've deprived this bordering-on-a-masterpiece creation of an exclamation mark in its rating. In terms of composition, the music is consistently strong everywhere save for Interbeing (which seems to be lacking a sense of destination throughout its medial part), and also, hmm, for the last two thirds of the title track where there is literally nothing: yeah, just that queer trick to end a recording with the sound of emptiness which has been a pain in the neck for any listener since the birth of CD. Otherwise highly recommended.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: December 17, 2007
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]