[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
TRACK LIST: 1. The Song of March Sky 16:27 2. Songs 4:12 3. Kentish Suite 8:17 4. The Lady of Castela 7:41 5. Lament 3:59 6. The Ghost of Yang I 11:38 7. The Exit 3:42 8. The Ghost of Yang II 3:40 All tracks: by Canalho. LINE-UP: Frank Canalho - - bass, electric & acoustic guitars; - organ, analog & digital synthesizers Johnnie McCoy - drums & percussion With: Torsten Hagemann - saxophones (on a few tracks) Michael Hansen - lead vocals (on 1 & 2) Per Solgaard - Moog (on 3) Anger Baden - Hammond (on 3) Produced by Etcetera. Engineered by D. Martin at "A".
Prolusion. "Tales of Ardour & Deceit" is the second CD by the Danish duo ETCETERA. Their recording debut had place in 1998 and resulted in the release of the "Fin de Siecle" album, which also features a few guest musicians.
Synopsis. The first two tracks on the album are songs with lyrics in English, and the remaining six consist of purely instrumental arrangements. With the exception of the last track: The Ghost of Yang-II, to which I'll get back a bit later, all of them are absolute masterpieces. Nevertheless, the 16-minute epic The Song of March Sky (1) is the most diverse among them - both compositionally and stylistically. (Having mentally taken a view of the past, I found that this is one of the 20-30 best 'sidelong' tracks I've ever heard, and I've heard plenty of them.) The music here, as well as almost everywhere on the album, has a very rich full-band sound, is largely in the vein of Classic Progressive of the first half of the seventies, and yet, is remarkably original and free of any influences. The arrangements are amazingly diverse, eclectic, and intriguing and feature very few repetitions. In other words, the music is almost always in a state of constant development, so the album needs a few successive listens to be comprehended. As for stylistic particularities, the aforementioned epic represents Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with pronounced elements of Prog-Metal and some of those of Classical Music and Jazz-Fusion, though the latter genre constituent concerns only the sax solos. The performance and stylistic aspects of all three of the long instrumental compositions: Kentish Suite, The Lady of Castela, and The Ghost of Yang-I (3, 4, & 6) are in many ways close to those of The Song of March Sky, though these contain the lesser quantity of heavy elements that, moreover, are provided only by guitar riffs. Both of the latter of them are in addition very rich in the parts (both passages and solos) of acoustic guitar sounding separately and being involved in the band's joint arrangements as well. Another track where passages of classical guitar play a significant role is the song called Songs (2). This is both a very beautiful and intricate work of a pure Symphonic Art-Rock, which in some ways reminds me of the charming Entangled from Genesis's "A Trick of the Tail", though it doesn't sound like Entangled at all. The two of the remaining three instrumentals: Lament and The Exit (5 & 7) are also about a classic Symphonic Art-Rock without any stylistic 'makeweights'. The first of them features slow and mild arrangements performed without drums, and the latter is as diverse and, overall, intensive as any of the four compositions described first. The last and the shortest track on the album: The Ghost of Yang-II consists exclusively of 'the wailing of the wind' and similar effects. This piece could've been an excellent intro to any of the long tracks, but being placed separately at the very end of the album, it looks just like a foreign matter. But well, such a slight slip is certainly of no importance in this case.
Conclusion. I am very much pleased with Etcetera's "Tales of Ardor & Deceit". This is assuredly one of the best and most original contemporary works evoking the spirit of Classic Symphonic Progressive of the seventies. Be sure to check it out. The album will satisfy even those who are very skeptical about today's Art-Rock.
VM: January 5, 2004
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]