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(47:53, Unicorn Digital Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Memoire Privee 5:38 2. La Fuite 5:06 3. Capsule 4:13 4. Touriste Urbain 4:26 5. Naufrage 6:40 6. Soldat 11:40 7. Soldat Finale 2:03 8. Derniere Issue 8:07 LINEUP: Marco Paradis – guitars; piano Serge Tremblay – vocals; bass; keyboards Jean-Claude Tremblay – drums
Prolusion. DIRECTION is a Canadian band with a history going back to 1998. 2002 saw the band releasing their debut album, while their second and third productions saw the light of day in 2005 and 2007, respectively. In 2008 they signed to progressive rock specialist label Unicorn Digital, and their fourth album "Est" was released in May the same year.
Analysis. This Canadian outfit serves up a rather charming, if somewhat bewildering, slab of distinct vintage sounding progressive rock on this production. Bewildering first and foremost due to the style explored in the first two tracks: Memoire Privee explores a Genesis sound and style to the point of coming across as a clone, while La Fuite has a stronger leaning towards Camel's mellower symphonic workouts. For the rest of this creation the style investigated is rather different though. The organ sound which dominates quite a bit in the songs mentioned above is still present, but pushed back in the mix, and symphonic-tinged keyboards are present at most times in a similar, subdued fashion. However, the sound pursued on the remaining six tunes is somewhat harder in expression. The bass guitar is more prominent, delivering a driving and at times rather heavy melodic and rhythmical detail to the songs, and even the drums seem to be a tad more forcefully delivered. The guitars are given a similar transformation, slightly darker in tinge and distortion; a few more riffs and riff patterns rather than melodic licks but mostly without entering hard rock territories in expression. An additional feature following the two opening songs is the inclusion of a few select pompous sounding keyboard passages, majestic and grandiose but not always symphonic. Expressions like pomp rock clearly come to mind when listening to this album, and acts like Boston and Styx seem to be just as influential with the last six compositions as Genesis and Camel are to the opening duo in particular and the album in general. The overall sound of this album is a vintage one, as noted, with many bits and pieces throughout this production coming across as replications rather than interpretations of the artists that influenced this trio. As replications go these are rather compelling though; even if the creativity and adventurous scope of this production may be close to zero, the moods are intriguing, the atmospheres well thought out and the sound obviously carefully planned. The band handles their instruments rather well too; I doubt if one may discern a lack in the levels of performance skills on this release, if you overlook the vocals that is. Serge Tremblay isn't the best singer I've encountered; at best his delivery is adequate and at worst it has a disruptive and slightly detrimental quality to it, at least as I hear it: partially due to the mix, which at times drowns the vocals, but also because the vocals don't add anything to the songs. At times I felt that the vocal segments may have been added as an afterthought, as a few songs, and last track Derniere issue in particular, have instrumental passages much stronger than the ones containing vocals.
Conclusion. Although rather unimaginative from a creative point of view, I found this album to be rather charming. People who enjoy vintage symphonic progressive rock with pomp rock leanings may find this a decent acquisition, especially if they don't mind coming across music sounding similar to what they've heard before.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 8, 2008
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