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Galadriel - 2009 - "Calibrated Collision Course"

(58:29, Musea Records)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Blind Hostage 5:53
2.  Leap of Faith 7:05
3.  Calorie Street 5:09
4.  Press? Sure! 6:56
5.  Views From a Greenhouse 6:23
6.  As Big as Bang 20:26
7.  Consumer Satisfaction 6:24


Jesus Filardi – vocals; programming
Jose Bautista – bass; programming
Javier Inigo – drums 
Jean Pascal Boffo – guitars (1, 4-to-7)
Santiago Perez – keyboards (2-to-4, 6)
Miguel Afonso – accordion (6)
Gloria Montero – vocals (6)
Veronica Filardi – vocals (5)

Prolusion. The Spanish outfit GALADRIEL has been around for more than two decades now, and its members are veterans of the Spanish progressive rock scene. “Calibrated Collision Course” is their fourth studio recording and was issued by Musea Records late in 2008, twenty years after their debut effort.

Analysis. One of the advantages of being a music reviewer (or disadvantages, if you like) is that your taste in music will diversify. And although one negative effect of spending a lot of time trying to analyze music is that relatively few productions will truly stand out in a positive manner – at least for most artists – the same applies on the other end of the scale. This latest venture from Spanish outfit Galadriel is one of the rare items I've spent time with that I can't really recommend though, which is a rather unique occurrence. There are still some positive aspects to this venture however. The songwriting is concise and planned for starters. There's nothing random going on here, and I get the feeling that even the minutest details have been carefully planned and executed accordingly. The musicians are honed in their craft as well; there are no amateurish tendencies that destroy good ideas. And I think it is fair to assert that the band explores rather uncharted musical territories in the greater scheme of things. Even if the individual elements aren't notable in themselves the assembled total package is of a kind not too many have made before them. The compositions themselves come across as somewhat unfulfilled for me. Ranging from rather typical neo-progressive segments to jazz- and funk-tinged passages (with some ambient sequences and chaotic mood pieces in between) most of the instrumental bits work rather well. But somewhat too frequently, for my personal taste, brief flurries or short themes featuring instruments neither harmonic nor disharmonic pop up. Kind of like instrument layers trying to reach the middle ground between rich melodic textures and dissonant explorations. Well planned and well executed – but for my personal taste neither pleasing, engaging or interesting as such. Still, the major negative for me on this excursion are the vocals. The main singer has a Gabriel-like voice, but most often with an expression closer in style to Jon Anderson, albeit at a lower register: a strange mix to my ears and one not always successful. The backing vocals are another matter entirely: bombastic shouted voices or layered melodic shouts as well as wordless choir effects of a dramatic nature. Overly used as an effect from start to finish according to my musical tastes, they overpower most of the vocal segments of the songs, and as the compositions generally are vocal heavy, this pretty much disrupts whatever enjoyable parts exist elsewhere in the sonic tapestries. It all adds up to some pleasing elements and others that aren't, with one major negative aspect that, at least for me, destroys what could have been at least a slightly better recording.

Conclusion. Galadriel does get a few extra credits from me for an innovative take on neo-progressive rock, and while I didn't find too much to be pleased with on this production, it is well made, the songs are obviously carefully crafted, and there is a lot of skill and talent to be found here. If chaotic, fragmented and fast changing compositions with neo-progressive leanings and massive, bombastic backing vocals blended in with partially disharmonic instrumental passages, mellow segments and ambient themes sounds like a good thing, and you're of the opinion that lead vocals similar in nature to Peter Gabriel are a suitable fit for this musical landscape, this is an effort you'd want to get hold of. Others should approach this one with a great deal of caution.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 12, 2009
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Musea Records


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