ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Finnegans Wake - 2004 - "4th"

(95 min 2CD, Carbon 7)


Prolusion. Here is one of the finest representatives of the Belgian-school RIO (which, in its turn, is certainly one of the finest schools of the genre), Belgium's very own FINNEGANS WAKE and their new product, simply titled "4th". What's curious is that only two years separate this album, which is the band's first double CD album moreover, from its predecessor, "Pictures", whereas each of their previous output appeared strictly once in four years. Also, it's the first time that Finnegan's Wake recorded material outside their homeland, specifically in Brazil. Besides, the native guitarist Alexandre Moura-Barros has become not only a full member of the band, but also one of its primary masterminds, along with Henry Krutzen. He actually replaced the band's formal leader, keyboardist Jean-Louis Aucremanne, who appears on this album only as one of the guest musicians, all the others of whom are Brazilians. (No, there is nothing ethnical in this music, and by the way, there is nothing pronouncedly dark as well.)


Henry Krutzen - keyboards; saxophone
Alexandre Moura-Barros - guitars
Richard Redcrossed - vocals
Alain Lemaitre - basses
Jorge Lima - drums & percussion
Eduardo Taufic - organ & piano
Alexandre Johnson - oboe & horn
Joao Johnson - flute & piccolo
Julian Figueroa - bassoon 
Eneas Albuquerque - clarinet 
Alexandre Casado - violin
Faissal Hussein - cello 
Erinaldo Dantas - trumpet
Gilberto Cabral - trombone 
Eduardo Pinheiro - guitars
Jubileu Filho - guitars
Alzeny Neto - vocals 
Wilberto Amaral - drums
Jean-Louis Aucremanne - keyboards 

Produced by Krutzen & G Segers.
Engineered by Lemaitre & Lima.

Disc I (46 min)


1.  The Voyage of Maeldun 8:09
2.  Back On 9:27
3.  Fata Morgana 12:34
4.  Olinda 2:46
5.  Mercurial 6:15
6.  Tapioca com Pimenta 6:13

All music: by Krutzen & Moura-Barros. 

Analysis. So this is the fourth album by the always-intriguing Finnegan's Wake, and I must tell you it's outstanding, showing a rather radical departure from their previous work. Even if you have heard all their other albums you will not be prepared for this one, so please prepare for a leap in the dark. The band's last album, "Pictures", can be regarded as their RIO apotheosis, while here, the band very often exceeds the bounds of Progressive Rock, entering far into classical territory. The first CD contains seven instrumental compositions, whose immediate attractiveness is partly explained by the fact that each of them was thoroughly composed, carefully arranged and scrupulously performed. (Please take this remark into consideration: it is topical regarding the second disc as well.) The ever changing musical events with the alternation of purely chamber textures and those mixed with Rock ones are typical for each of them. In many cases, however, the parts performed exclusively with chamber wind and string instruments, acoustic guitar included, are predominant. Besides, even at the 'rockiest' moments, the classical constituent often comes from inside, integrating into the music and bursting forth a unique and exuberant way. That said, the fifteen guests perform here, and most of them are chamber musicians, incorporating various strings, woodwinds, and brass. As an experienced diver into the musical seas, you don't need a morphological analyzer to determine what can be found at the depth of Finnegan's fourth wake. The fundamental style is laid already in the opening act, The Voyage of Maeldun. XX Century Classical academic music either in purely chamber or mixed, chamber Rock, form keeps most of the story line, from time to time giving way to MIO, which is Metal-In-Opposition, as you have correctly guessed. In the second and sixth acts, Back On and Tapioca com Pimenta, MIO beings possess a wider latitude, rather often intervening in neoclassical matters and, sometimes, showing an open aggressiveness. However, seeing the Fata Morgana turned out to be fatal for them, and after dosing themselves with Mercurial they vanished completely. From time to time, the brass makes an attempt to throw things into confusion, but the almighty classical entities are always in their way. This is a highly complex, yet, totally coherent, transparent and unbelievably beautiful music. The piece Olinda features only passages and solos of classical guitar, but it's brilliant too, and is unique both compositionally and technically. Generally, the incredible guitar playing by don Moura-Barros (especially on acoustic guitar) has a very positive effect in the music of Finnegan's Wake, pushing an already great band to another level.

Disc II (49 min)


1.  Moondogging 11:32
2.  Anemia 6:08
3.  Brazil RN 11:22
4.  Wenceslas Shorts 3:16
5.  Datcha 6:45
6.  Moriture te Salutant 7:05
7.  Bon Voyage 3:12

All music: by Krutzen & Moura-Barros. 
All lyrics: by Redcrossed. 

Analysis. On the second disc, Finnegan's Wake made a further and, probably, their last steps in the development of Progressive Rock - towards Academic music of course, as there is nothing above the most advanced forms of our beloved genre apart from it. The band has just proved the logical inevitability (or vice versa) of their blending. The classical instrumentation is offered very widely here: oboe, bassoon, clarinet, flute, horn, cello, violin, piano, acoustic guitar and more. The chamber group works musical wonders throughout, but on the first two tracks, Moondogging and Anemia, their patterns cover more than three-fourths of the space. Here goes the XXI Century Classical music, welcome it! If you're into Art-Rock and feel bent for classical forms, start listening to the album with these two. They are so harmonious and beautiful that you will immediately love them and, via them, the entire album, with all the ensuing favorable consequences, as the world of Classical music is infinite. On the other three longer tracks: Brazil RN, Datcha and Moriture te Salutant, the chamber textures more often meet the Rock ones, interflowing into one unique substance, which, lacking some better definition, I would call the XXI Century Chamber Rock with a strong sense of melody. This is a wonderful world where beauty and complexity exist arm and arm, in full harmony, just supplementing each other. (After reading this and trying to listen to the album, an ordinary music lover may say: "He's probably off of his head", but I would pity him himself.) The pieces are composed from beginning to end, which is amazing considering how large is the list of guests and how long the arrangements are. I did forget to mention that there is some female vocalization on Moondogging, while it's just the time to tell you that the remaining two tracks, Wenceslas Shorts and Bon Voyage, are the only featuring vocals and lyrics. Although short, both are quite good. Musically however, they have nearly nothing in common with the rest of the material. The music is a rhythmic Jazz-Fusion with elements of RIO of a French fashion, with the tenor sax being the one non-Rock instrument. It would've been wise of the band to place Wenceslas Shorts at the very end of the first disc, but this isn't a big deal. One may note: "Perhaps both the shorts were written especially for Mr. Redcrossed; otherwise I hardly find a proper explanation for their presence on the album, as well as the singer's presence in the principal lineup." Well, one of the band members, vocalist and lyricist Richard Redcrossed, participated only on two songs, but does it really matter? All in all, this is their most complex, most interesting and most beautiful album to date.

Conclusion. Finnegan's Wake "4th" is an absolutely brilliant thing that gets better every time I listen to it, and the essence of the album is just dazzling. But what's especially amazing is the incredible amount of freshness here and that such a marvelous thing as a musical magic reveals itself nearly everywhere. In my view, this is the most ambitious and most intelligent, just the best album of 2004, but this is not all. With this release, the band has entered the pantheon of Titans, and along with some others, it stands now at the head of procession of real stars of contemporary Progressive.

VM: January 24 & 25, 2005

Related Links:

Carbon 7 Records
Finnegans Wake


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