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(50 min, ‘Flicker’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Out There 6:00 2. My Empty Head 6:43 3. Counting Time 7:31 4. Breathless 8:20 5. Intro 4:47 6. Go 2:59 7. Falling Down 6:35 8. Is This Real Life 6:34 9. Every Where Face 4:38 LINEUP: Ellis Mordecai – vocals; el. & ac. guitars Andrew Day – guitars; keyboards Vaughan Abrey – drums Peter Coussens – bass
Prolusion. The nine-track “How Much Are You Willing to Forget?” is most likely the debut album by the UK quartet FLICKER. As the disc arrived without a press kit, I tried to find any info on the band’s history on their website, but it is almost empty at the moment.
Analysis. The music on this album is of a post-progressive rather than classically progressive quality, but the band performs it with taste and elegance. According to its website, four members play electric and acoustic guitars, bass and drums, though there are also keyboards and what sounds very much like real violins – on most of the tracks and a few ones respectively. Singer/guitarist Ellis Mordecai adds outstanding lead vocals with other members (or he himself via overdubs) harmonizing in places. Ellis’s singing is frequently a focal point, much more often ethereal than earthy in delivery. On tracks like Out There, My Empty Head and Go the band for the most part stays within the standard verse/chorus/instrumental rock format, yet adding enough surprises and twists to keep the music interesting. Alternating sections with heavier and softer arrangements (of a full-band sound in all cases), the pieces are weighing in somewhere between “The First Day” album by David Sylvian & Robert Fripp, most recent Radiohead endeavors and Porcupine Tree circa “Signify”, but with enough originality that I have to admit they sometimes really sound like nobody else. The changes of their sound come at the bottom end and at the top as well: an energetic interplay between bass and drums keeps the rhythmic edge busy, while the dual guitars pull their complexities and atmospherics in a way that seems to be a bit looser than that in conventional guitar Art-Rock, bordering on Space Rock in places. One way or another, the guitar work sounds at times much in the same vein as Steven Wilson and David Sylvian’s as well, occasionally evoking David Gilmour. At first only using acoustic instruments and/or pianos, the songs Is This Real Life, Counting Time and Falling Down all begin softly (the former one in a flamenco style), but later on they follow the approach that typifies the first three described tracks. Quite the contrary, the piece entitled Breathless suggests the above idiom within the first three minutes of its duration, whereas the rest of it is seen as symphonic Space Rock, a feature dominating on each of the remaining two compositions, Intro and Every Where Face. On both of them I distinctly hear influences from Pink Floyd circa 1973 (acoustic guitar or piano bends combined with vocals; female vocalizations that sound not unlike those from the ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ and more), on which the band builds the compositions, the last of them a mellow ballad, performed without the rhythm section. There’s nothing complex here, in both cases – it’s more a matter of building things up slowly with subtle variations than contrasting sections or detailed composition.
Conclusion. If there is a fault here, it’s that the band’s style does get a bit the same over the duration – a little variety in pace and tempo would have taken care of this. Also, I think there is much more that two guitarists could do in a band like this: for example throw in some intricate solos and counterpoint here and there. On the other hand, their instruments are certainly the main melodic foil, offering something to complement the vocals without drawing attention from them, as well as turning in deft solos in places. All in all, the compositions, while quite accessible, are elaborate, some of them being touched by the wing of magic. Fans of any of the aforementioned bands and projects should find plenty here to get excited about.
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