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(67 min, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. There is a War Going on 3:22 2. Jalal 7:16 3. No More Quarell with the Devil 4:41 4. Rising upon Clouds 5:41 5. Purple Haze 4:47 6. The Invitation 4:03 7. Mercy, Pity, Peace & Love 12:14 8. There is a War Going on Reprise 1:18 9. Tears before Bedtime 2:44 10. The Human Abstract 6:24 11. No More Quarrel with the Devil Reprise 1:14 12. Mercury 4:19 13. Goodbye My Fellow Soldier 9:10 LINEUP: Alex Maguire – keyboards, sequencing Michel Delville – guitar, Roland GR09 Tony Bianco – drums; sampling
Prolusion. DOUBT is a trio of British musicians that has existed since 2007. Released at the end of 2012, the 13-track “Mercy, Pity, Peace & Love” is their second album, following “Never Pet a Burning Dog” from 2010.
Analysis. Considerably longer than its predecessor, this 67-minute outing embraces more musical styles than the band’s debut does, which is mainly because all of the musicians now use electronic devices in addition to their traditional, or rather initial, instrumentation (of keyboards, guitar and drums). At the same time, however, it is simpler than “Never Pet a Burning Dog”, as a number of its items, while sonically rich and varied, going through several different sonic phases, are either mono- or bi-thematic at their basis. After first listening, There is a War Going on and Jalal each might come across as a classic sympho-prog and a mature jazz-rock piece respectively, but lend an attentive ear to the pieces, and you’ll hear that both of them develop around a complex, yet recurring bass riff (which appears to be a kind of their musical axis), the first of them marred by radio voices and narratives. Mercury and Tears before Bedtime are both similar to the latter track in construction and style alike, also reflecting an approach Soft Machine applied on ‘The Soft Weed Factor’ from their “VI” album, although in a better way. The pieces Rising upon Clouds, the title track and The Human Abstract each reveals a full-fledged jazz rock move at one point. Overall however, it can be stated that, on all of those, real musical structures and varied sampled source material are blended into a strange noisescape, with some of the band members playing spontaneously (or having pushed themselves into abstract territory, if you will), and the others appearing to be manipulators, if not button-pushers. (No, I didn’t forget that DouBt is a trio, but it sounds like a quintet, since there are many overdubs on the album.) The music is far less concerned about harmonic content, instead favoring over-eclecticism, samples and sound effects as the primary drivers. Let’s move further. The Invitation is a conventional, swing-based, jazz rock ballad – melodic, but plain and totally predictable. Goodbye My Fellow Soldier is an ambient, but still fairly interesting piece of aural imagery, throughout focused on mood and atmosphere. With collages of synthesizer drones and sound effects bleeding into clusters of dark tones, it’s full of dreamy, yet at the same time somber melodies. The trio is at its best when going heavy, as it does on No More Quarell with the Devil and Purple Haze, in both cases coursing through several sections with hard-edged arrangements. Stylistically, on each of those they move from Black Sabbathesque progressive Doom Metal into mid-’70s King Crimson MIO-like territory. One of the riffs on the former track instantly evokes ‘Children of the Grave’ from the Brummies’ “Master of Reality album, but it doesn’t much matter, since the entire piece is simply fascinating, just a bit inferior to the latter. Finally, There is a War Going on Reprise and No More Quarrel with the Devil Reprise are both brief, softer-sounding versions of their eponymous compositions.
Conclusion. Most, if not all, of the albums by the best progressive rock bands (Genesis, Black Sabbath, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Univers Zero, etc and so on) are integral creations, stylistically uniform at least at their foundation. That’s why they’ll always be loved by fans of the genre. Unlike them, the latest release by DouBt sounds much like a compilation of tracks by several outfits, most of which belong to different musical schools. It has its own merits, for sure, but nevertheless, I doubt it will receive a really enthusiastic welcome among those from a progressive rock circle.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: June 1, 2013
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