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(52:06 / Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Beautiful 5:00 2. Sadness 4:33 3. Jewel 4:31 4. Candyland 3:40 5. Green Knees 5:58 6. Hello 3:55 7. Points of View 5:38 8. Wish It Away 5:08 9. Wounded 3:13 10. Nature's Cruelty 2:17 11. Childhood Dreams 8:04 LINEUP: Kristoffer Gildenlow - vocals; guitars, mandolin, bass; keyboards; cello Liselotte 'Lilo' Hegt - vocals; keyboards; bass Rommert Van-Der Meer - guitars With: Dirk Bruenenberg - drums & percussion Devon Graves - additional guitars
Prolusion. "Synchronized" is the debut CD by DIAL. While being located in Holland, this project is in fact a collaboration of Kristoffer Gildenlow (formerly of Pain Of Salvation), who is a Swede, and two Dutch musicians, Liselotte "Lilo" Hegt and Rommert Van Der Meer (both from Cirrha Niva). Supergroup? It seems so, but to lick it into the shape of a complete rock band it was necessary to equip its kitchen, so one more Dutchman, drummer Dirk Bruenenberg, was engaged. Nevertheless Dial is a genuinely international outfit, because Devon Graves (of Psychotic Waltz and Dead Soul Tribe fame, his real name being Buddy Lackey), who engineered, mixed and produced the album, doesn't even live in Europe, but on the other side of the Atlantic.
Analysis. At least in the press kit, Dial is presented as an alternative rock act. I have no idea whether the band themselves actually disassociate their work from Progressive, but although the eleven songs on this CD are all instantly accessible, some elements of that genre can be found on each, unless one prefers to overlook those, due to the predictability of most of this music. I would have probably acted the same way if I only hadn't known the roots that most of these so to speak sprouts have grown from and not enjoyed those either. With the deduction of the brief Nature's Cruelty, which is both musically and lyrically nothing other than a lullaby (performed by Lilo of course), the album can easily be divided into three parts. Imagine a cross between the 25-th Floor from "Wildhoney" and a statistically average song from "A Deeper Kind of Slumber" by Sweden's Tiamat, then mix the result with some straightforwardness typical of that band's later releases, and you'll be halfway to having an idea of the tunes whose vocal palette is only painted with, well, Daniel's singing (which is rarely monochromatic though). These are Sadness, Green Knees and Wish It Away, all being unhurried, yet well conceived, dramatically pronounced songs, alternating atmospheric, gothic, doom metal-like, 'alternative' with quasi art-rock architectures, the latter most often appearing in the form of symphonic interludes, usually with either acoustic guitar and piano or only mandolin in the arrangement. Hello, Points of View and Wounded are quite similar, minus some quantity of hard movements, and also the fact that each of these finds both Lilo and Kristoffer behind the microphone. Of the three tunes, Beautiful, Jewel and Candyland, the first two are both much closer (at least instrumentally and, in that way, structurally too) to those where Kristoffer sings on his own, but since Lilo doesn't hide her predilection for Kate Bush's (instantly recognizable, kind of coquettish) singing, their overall picture is definitely different. As for the latter, this is the only totally inexpressive, plus heavily derivative track here. There are only three different themes strictly alternating with each other: two of those remind me somewhat of a Musical, while the one featuring only vocals and piano sounds as if it's Mrs. Bush herself who performed it, alone. The closing, and also the longest track Childhood Dreams (8:04), isn't something groundbreakingly progressive either, but nevertheless this is the only piece that fully fits the prog-rock idiom, standing out for some remarkable instrumental maneuvers.
Conclusion. Dial's "Synchronized" isn't destined for prog lovers, at least most of them. However, I doubt their musical diet only consists of progressive creations, and personally I like almost anything that finds a proper response in my soul. Here's the final verdict: Since quite a few of the songs on this CD have a pop feeling in places, "Synchronized" is somewhat lacking in that charming atmosphere with which any of the other two creations by Tiamat are just filled, but nevertheless some of these cuts are really touching - mainly those sung by Gildenlow. Next time, Kristoffer, don't let anybody else join you in singing:-).
VM: July 16, 2007
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