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Tracklist: 1. Downtown 10:55 (Krutzen) 2. Pictures: Suite For 5 Painters 16:47 (Aucremanne, Krutzen) a) Otto Dix b) Hans Hartung c) Bruce Nauman d) Leon Spilliaert e) Bill Martin 3. First Blow 7:28 (Aucremanne, Krutzen) 4. God Meets the Devil: Drink of Wenceslas-1 7:01 (Aucremanne, Krutzen) 5. Illimited 6:55 (Aucremanne, Krutzen) 6. God Meets the Devil: Drink of Wenceslas-2 4:01 (Aucremanne) 7. Finale 1:21 (Lemaitre) Text (on 2-e) & lyrics (6): by R. Redcrossed (in English). Line-up: Jean-Louis Aucremanne - piano & keyboards Henry Krutzen - keyboards, tenor saxophone Alain Lemaitre - bass, keyboards Richard Redcrossed - vocals, vocalizes, & narration Guest musicians: Michel Morvan - drums Jacques Collin - acoustic & electric guitars Dirk Descheemaeker (of Univers Zero) - clarinet & bass clarinet Piet Van Bockstal - oboe & English horn Audrey Ribaucourt - flute Francois Deppe - cello George Van Dam - violin Raf Minten - baritone saxophone Alain Pire - trombone Philippe Ranaffo - trumpet Produced by Finnegan's Wake. Recorded & mixed by Alain Lemaitre at "CompoGraphis" studio, Brussels, Belgium (2000/2001).
Prologue. With this review I begin a very long series of the reviews of most of the albums that were released by "MUSEA Records" and a few from its sub-labels since the beginning of this year and until now. "Pictures" is the third album by Finnegan's Wake (see their discography below), though I have never listened to this band before. However, the combination of words "Belgium" and "Gazul" rouses distinct associations with RIO. (Dear Prog-novices! Do not confuse this abbreviation with the city of Rio de Janeiro.)
The Album. No! It turned out to be that RIO is only the basis for this band's music, which, in fact, represents nothing else but Fifth Element. (This is the fifth Progressive Rock genre, which was discovered by some modest reviewer in the first year of third millennium, A. D. Though, the music by most of the performers of Progressive's Fifth Element sprung up from RIO.) The music of Finnegan's Wake is both extremely complex and very picturesque, as it was 'painted' by a wide variety of different electric and acoustic instruments, while all of the parts of which are truly colorful (or showy, if you will). Also, I think that the longest composition on the album was dedicated to five painters not unintentionally. Well, the number of the performers of Fifth Element has grown again, as well as the number of the albums confirming the fact that a seemingly strange union of music, which is close to Classical and Avant-garde Academic Music, and Heavy Metal, is in reality, very effective and truly innovative. Yes, with the last sentence, I briefly defined the general characteristic of the music of Finnegan's Wake, which, in addition, is outstandingly original and innovative. However, while all of the tracks that are featured on the "Pictures" album are brilliant, not all of them were created within the framework of a unified stylistics. Two of them, nevertheless, are completely free of the elements of Prog-Metal. These are the last two tracks on the album, namely God Meets the Devil: Drink of Wenceslas-2, and Finale (6 & 7). Only these tracks are out of the predominant stylistics of "Pictures", whereas all of the other musical pictures of this album represent a rather integral picture. (A deliberate tautology rules! Don't ask me why: I don't know.) The first of them, God Meets the Devil: Drink of Wenceslas-2, is the only real song on the album. Richard Redcrossed is a unique singer-chameleon with a gigantic vocal diapason. He uses his voice like a real musical instrument, which is able to present a wide variety of different emotions, apart from (kind of) the vocal solos, etc. In the unique narrative vocalizes without words that, apart from a real narration, are featured on the album's title track, Richard demonstrates the real miracles of vocal acrobatics, and he is easily able to have a bass and even female soprano! While the instrumental arrangements of this song are mostly of a symphonic character, they were performed with the use of unusual meters. Finale is a short instrumental piece of Classical Academic Music consisting of diverse interplay between passages of piano and solos of bass. All five of the other compositions on the album are the legitimate creations of Fifth Element. (Which, as you perhaps already know, is music or a blend of various forms of progressive music that doesn't fit any of Progressive's first four genres, namely Art- (Symphonic) Rock, Prog-Metal, Jazz-Fusion, and RIO.) All three of the mid-length compositions: First Blow, God Meets the Devil: Drink of Wenceslas-1, and Illimited (tracks 3, 4, & 5) are practically as complex, diverse, and unique as both of the long ones, namely Downtown & Pictures (tracks 1 & 2). (I work backwards this time, as you see.) On all of these five tracks, the music of Fifth Element was born as a result of confluence of all four of the first Progressive Rock genres and Avant-garde Academic Music. The Prog-Metal and (dark) Progressive Doom-Rock structures are especially notable on the first two tracks of the album, while the Industrial music-like backgrounds were used on most of them. What's central is the laws of Avant-garde Academic Music were actively used in the process of creation of these five pieces. In other words, they're just filled with the 'harmonious atonalities' that are typical for a 12-tone scale of composing. In fact, the arrangements that are featured on all of these five pieces are very eclectic and intriguing (which is honey to the soul of any profound Prog-head). They constantly develop through the cascades of kaleidoscopic and, often, sudden changes of tempo and mood
Summary. "Pictures" is a unique masterpiece, and Finnegan's Wake is a fantastic band. (The presence of Univers Zero's Dirk Descheemaeker on this album just proves it). Which, though, is typical for all of the serious performers to come out from the Land of RIO: Univers Zero, Julverne, Present, Aksak Maboul, Cos, to name a few. It's great to know that the excellent Belgian school of RIO hasn't stopped in its development. The appearance of such innovative forms of progressive music like that, which is presented on Finnegan's Wake's "Pictures" (of Fifth Element), is just a logical step forward for such a flexible genre as RIO.
VM. April 11, 2002
Finnegan's Wake discography: 1994 - "Yellow" ("Mellow") 1998 - "Green" ("Mellow") 2002 - "Pictures" ("Gazul" @ "Musea")
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