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1. Faith 5:04 2. Don't remind me 7:08 3. Body of Mine 4:39 4. Timneh 2:03 5. Obsession 6:29 6. Bewildered Serenity 5:48 7. 911 2:43 8. Chimes 5:53 9. C'est pas fint 12:07 10. Iceberg 2:03 All tracks written by House Of Usher. Line-up: Aaron - vocals Michael Allen Moore - guitars Richard Kaczynski - keyboards Mark Jardine - bass Mark Evans - drums
Once upon a time in a big city of the American state Michigan there lived musicians under the name of House of Usher. They lived and worked as usual, but one day they wrote a fairy-tale entitled "Body of Mind". Beautiful and profound is this fairy-tale... What's strange however, is that neither the tale nor the musicians are mentioned in our Wonderbook of Progressive Rock with its many pages.
The album. The program is so well-rounded that I shouldn't be surprised if I reiterate while describing the themes and the arrangements. Most tracks, including the starters Faith and Don't Remind Me begin pretty heavily, but the wittily riffing guitar is always backed by the eventful and diverse keyboards. The vocals throughout the album sound as if a little apart from the instrumental texture thus bringing about a picture of very well-thought, truly progressive composing.
To take as examples Obsession, Bewildered Serenity, or the feature of the album the epic C'est pas fini, there's a sudden upheavel, closer to the middle of the composition, in the direction of a symphonic sound, and then the instrumental section is cramming full of the most audacious interplays among all the musicians. The lead guitar and the keys are having a debate when the bass comes boldly in, whose fine strokes and thunderous lines only add up more colors into the arrangements. The drummer always knows for sure when and where to single out a note or produce a bombardment upon what's going on there. The singer deserves all possible praise for his splendidly set, original voice. His sad moods give way to austerity and rigor in accordance with the frequent changes of the common mood of the play.
The rises and falls of the piano and the acoustic guitar are not uncommon, as well as electric arrangements though. The latter are especially outstanding in the tracks Body of Mine, Chimes and the mentioned above, unsurpassed C'est pas fini. The guys make a skilful use of effects, including the "echo" in vocals. And as for the surprising shifts of the tempo and the themes, they're numerous. Such is an approximate general impression of almost all tracks of the disk.
A little apart, but not impairing the idea of integrity at all, we have the instrumentals Timneh, that will strike any fan of acoustic guitar compositions with its sublime beauty and virtuosity, and also 911, that is plenty of exceedingly expressive, rich, diverse keys arrangements (piano, mostly).
Amazing in its melodic beauty is the final ballade Iceberg, full of melancholic reflections. Nothing but the piano and the deep dramatic vocals and the fine lyrics. Though this composition lacks on fat instrumental arrangements, it logically and expressively concludes this great album.
Resume. One of the best albums of progressive in the '90s. I'll take the liberty, finally, to express myself about the popularisation by most prog sites almost exclusively the Neo production, as though the simplified model of Progressive Rock were its main engine! Isn't it strange that such unique bands as Univers Zero, The Enid and some more go virtually unnoticed as yet, House of Usher being one of them, although their stylistics of the "classic" art rock is not as inaccessible for some heads as the most complex ouvertures of the above said bands.
To speak about "Body of Mind", I can definetely say that I don't find any direct analogues for comparison: their music is absolutely one-of-a-kind, fascinating, wondrous! At the same time, the technical level of the musicians I can easily compare with that of such established masters as Steve Hacket, Mark Kelly, Bill Bruford, John Wetton and so on, the list can be continued. After all, I want only one thing, that the work of the band should be more known. That will never do, if this House of Usher falls...
VM. September 21, 1999
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