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Tracklist: 1. Hairdressers Go Home 5:01 2. Olympic Troubles 4:10 3. Anti-Caking Agent 3:19 4. Amazing Grease 3:24 5. Smacked Down by the Lord Again 5:33 6. Have You Seen Me? 4:58 7. The Terrible Rage of the Shy 5:59 8. Full Metal Carpet 7:06 9. Nobody's Listening Anyway 13:58 All music written by Peter Vervloesem; arranged by Grosso Modo. Line-up: Peter Vervloesem - guitar, bass Peter Vandenberghe - keyboards Guy Segers - bass Charles Hayward - drums Guest Musician: Peter Vermeersch - clarinet & bass clarinet (on 8) Recorded & mixed by Rudy Coqulet & Vincent Debast at "Rising Sun" studio. Produced & mastered by Peter Vervloemes at "Fiasco" studio.
Prologue. And right you are! The eponymous Grosso Modo album is the debut by this Belgian outfit lead by guitarist Peter Vervloesem and featuring bassist Guy Segers, who is well-known as almost a permanent member of both of the legendary RIO bands, Univers Zero and Present.
The Album. I won't list those seven Belgian bands, with the creation of which I am familiar, as their names should be well known to most of you. I only want to say that all these bands shine with a distinct originality of the styles they've chosen, and Grosso Modo is one of them. The music that the band presented on their debut album is by all means unique and innovative, and there are no analogues of it in the world. On the whole, this album was created within the framework of a unified stylistics, a general definition of which should, in my view, sound the next way. This is a very eclectic fusion of a real Art-Rock (which is NOT symphonic yet), unstructured Art-Rock (which is certainly not symphonic), free-improvisational Avant-garde (which is NOT of a jazzy nature yet), and a brooding, mostly slow and dark, Prog-Metal (which is NOT progressive Doom-Metal yet). The elements of Avant-garde Academic Music and the guitar-driven Space Rock are also present on the album. Of course, such a monstrously polymorphous stylistics just cannot fit any of Progressive's first four genres (Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, Prog-Metal, and RIO), so a niche of Fifth Element comes quite in handy for Grosso Modo. Now, they'll keep the company of NeBeLNeST, French TV, their countrymen Finnegan's Wake, and many other great bands. Also, it seems these guys 'aren't familiar' with even meters at all, as well as the members of most of the bands of RIO and Fifth Element genres. Or, being familiar with the dodecaphony and the atonalities of Avant-garde Academic Music not through hearsay, they've perhaps just forgotten of them. One way or another, they go their own path, and the continuous use of unusual measures is one of the principal constituents of the music of Grosso Modo. The alternation of heavy and amorphous structures is typical for seven out of the nine compositions of this album. However, Olympic Troubles, Amazing Grease, Have You Seen Me, and Full Metal Carpet (tracks 2, 4, 6, & 8) are, overall, way heavier than Hairdressers Go Home, Anti-Caking Agent, and Nobody's Listening Anyway (1, 3, & 9). The slow and, at the same time, troublous riffs of electric and bass guitars, both of which were recorded through "Distortion", "Overdrive", "Delay", etc processors, are typical for the first three of these seven tracks. Most of the contents of Full Metal Carpet (8) completely conform to its title. The arrangements that are featured on it are, overall, the heaviest and fastest on the album. Various interplay between the wild solos of clarinets, including a bass clarinet, and heavy riffs of electric and bass guitars are there especially intriguing. (Many fans of complex Death-Metal would be happy if their favorite bands would be able to reach such a high elevation in composition and performance.)) In those compositional parts that represent the more or less known forms of Art-Rock are sometimes present the simultaneous solos of guitar, bass, and organ. It can seem that all of them sound in unison, though, in fact, they were performed in fourth and fifth. Smacked Down by the Lord Again and The Terrible Rage of the Shy (tracks 5 & 7) are the only compositions on the album that are somewhat out of its predominant stylistics. While being still rather unstable, which is typical for the album as a whole, the textures of these pieces are, however, completely free of the heavy elements. Also, a few episodes of the unstructured Art-Rock are there dedicated to the correlation of the completely stagnated sounds with those that are astir and contain such innovative and unique features as kind of the eddy currents round the stark (or frozen, if you will) solos. While I described the 'state' of both sorts of these solos quite correctly, nevertheless, I think that it's almost impossible to imagine them without hearing them. Finally, The Terrible Rage of the Shy is the only track on the album that brings to the listener a solid dose of hypnotism.
Summary. "Peter Vervloesem's Grosso Modo" is a highly complex album. It is necessary to listen to it a few times to comprehend it. In saying that, I intend to appeal to the profound and really open-minded Prog-lovers. So, dear Prog-, Doom-, etc-Metal fans! Don't be deluded while reading this review where you see so many of the Metal-related words. To be honest, I doubt that you would like this album, despite the fact that you probably know how many of the academic bands (mainly from the RIO camp) moved towards a heavy sound, which, sometimes, is heavier than that of some of the traditional Prog-Metal outfits. Most likely, you can find that with their music, Grosso Modo try to solve the problem of squaring the circle or jumping through the universe's zero-space, none of which are actually true. This album is filled with great music, which is just more complicated than the 'average statistical' Progressive.
VM. July 11, 2002
"Carbon 7 Records":
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