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(69:53, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dark Highway-I-Transmission 9:34 2. Dark Highway-II-Before First Light 11:58 3. Shine On 4:30 4. Scars and Dust 5:24 5. Pornocopia 8:03 6. Narcotica 4:16 7. A Beautiful Disaster 4:57 8. Dark Highway-III-New Rome 11:02 9. Dark Highway-IV-Take the Blood 10:09 LINEUP: Cage – all instruments Viggo Domino – all vocals
Prolusion. The US studio project INVISIGOTH was released upon an unsuspecting world in 2006, perhaps not making an extreme impact, but certainly managing to catch the attention of several music critics, and so far I have not come across too many acts which divide their listeners to such a high degree as this band. The expression "either loved or hated" is very much appropriate, as both albums by Invisigoth have been met by either high praise or utter damnation, and only rarely a reaction in between. "Narcotica" is the second album by this band, following “Alcoholocaust” from 2007.
Analysis. The main point to make on the music presented on "Narcotica" is that there's really no dominating musical style to be found, not on the album as such nor in any of the individual compositions. Instead of focusing on one or a few styles, the band has chosen to go from style to style within each individual tune, and especially on the longer tracks, where you may find a plethora of musical directions visited more or less briefly from start to finish. This makes for a taxing listen, demanding a lot of attention from anyone checking out this release. Fans of conventional progressive rock may have a hard time feeling at ease with this album, as the album is more experimental than typically progressive in style. This is innovative stuff though, so those of the opinion that progressive music is innovative and groundbreaking rather than representing certain ways of performing music should find many interesting aspects to this release. Keyboards are the most central element in these songs. The synthesizers provide industrial and space-influenced sounds and are used to create sometimes lush and sometimes epic cinematic layers in the soundscape, as well as more melodic and indeed even symphonic dimensions at times: in addition to underscoring melody lines when there are guitars or keys providing the main melody. Regular keyboards, most often in the form of piano, are first and foremost used to convey melody. Guitars pop up here and there too, sometimes weaving the melodies and sometimes underscoring synthesizers or piano. And of course, digital keyboards and guitars are all used for soloing segments, as would and should be expected. Even when variation is the name of the game from start to finish, it seems like most of the songs have some sort of foundation in majestic cinematic textures, courtesy of layered synthesizer sounds. Sometimes with a big epic sound, at other times lush, mellow and almost ambient, the cinematic feeling is a mainstay. In addition, I also have a feeling that computer game music may have been an influence on the general foundation, but pinpointing that particular presence has so far escaped me. The layered synthesizers as well as the rhythms used to convey this particular flavor in the soundscapes, will often take on distinct eastern musical leanings, to the extent that this particular aspect is somewhat of a red thread to this release. On top of this foundation multi-instrumentalist Cage create segments and passages in all manner of styles, symphonic rock segments being heard just as often as jazz-tinged, industrial and ambient moments, and the sounds of mid-eighties synth-based pop music are also given a run in quite a few parts. Vocalist Viggo Domino then adds his vocal skills to the songs. He has several different vocal expressions, singing in voices that sound distinctly quite different. Some of this difference is obviously enhanced by production, but also due to Domino being a skilled singer. His voice is often layered when used as a backing vocal, and there are also quite a few segments with recitative instead of singing – and from what I understand Domino is responsible for all the voices heard here, speech as well as singing, which is impressive. All the elements mentioned are gathered and mixed in highly melodic compositions. No matter what style or direction is adopted – a distinct melody will always be present.
Conclusion. Invisigoth's latest experiment, although a strong and interesting album, doesn't appear to be a release with a mass appeal. Despite that fact, I guess that fans of Porcupine Tree and similar artists might prove to be likely candidates for finding this disc most interesting.
OMB: May 20, 2008
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