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(41 min, Unicorn)
TRACK LIST: 1. Eternal Light Avenue 5:04 2. Say to Me 7:05 3. Crawl 3:43 4. The Waves 5:19 5. The Wall of Silence 6:50 6. SOAB 4:28 7. Presidency 5:10 8. The Circle of Madness 3:18 All music & most lyrics: by Ouelette. Produced & engineered by Ouelette. LINE-UP: Bernard Ouelette - vocals; keyboards; guitars; drums Sylvain Provost - guitars Norman Lachapelle - basses Magella Cormier - drums With: Jean-Francois Belanger - sitar & cello Robin Boulianne - violin Guy Dubuc - keyboards Alain Bertrand - guitars
Prolusion. KAOS MOON is the brainchild of drummer Bernard Ouelette, who formed the band in 1984 and still remains the only permanent member (though he appears as a singing multi-instrumentalist now). They're from Canada's French province Quebec, which has been known for its good progressive traditions perhaps since the birth of the genre. By the irony of fate, the debut Kaos Moon album, "After the Storm", was released on their tenth anniversary, and the same number of years has passed before the band's discography was replenished with another album, "The Circle of Madness".
Analysis. As I've read in the CD press kit, Kaos Moon's music might please die-hard fans of Marillion. No, it won't, unless they consider "Brave" the best Marillion album, in which I wouldn't believe, though. Only the superficial listening to "The Circle of Madness" may lead to the idea it's Neo. In fact, one needs to be hard of hearing to come to such a conclusion, especially since Marillion's die-hard fans quite happily take just anything from their idols, while such of the band's albums as "Radiation", "marillion.com" and "Anoraknophobia" have almost nothing to do with Prog, not to mention even Neo. I think any Neo-headed will grit their teeth when hearing the kaleidoscopic changes of (a wide-variety of different) themes that are hallmarks of most of the songs here. Add here that Kaos Moon members are technically on par with the best jazzmen, which is partly because they are certainly fond of Jazz-Fusion, and I believe they have the corresponding training behind them. All the musicians feel free and easy to do their all-different, really exclusive solos, almost endlessly, regardless of the presence of vocals and with no fear to break the integrity of what they create altogether. Finally, here is another argument against the resemblance between this band and Marillion. Kaos Moon hasn't an English sound, but rather a typical North American sound, which does not in the least imply the derivativeness of their music. The band's thinking is unquestionably original, but by the number of different themes put into the short-format songs, in conjunction with the band's ability to keep all the things tight, dynamic and highly diverse simultaneously, this album can be put on the same plane as Bubblemath's "Such Fine Particles of the Universe", "As the World" by Echolyn, "The American Standard" by Dreadnaught and Kansas's "Freaks of Nature". In short, I see this music as a real contemporary Symphonic Art-Rock, not much depending on the genre's classic traditions and little deriving from them as well. As mentioned however, the band's vision of their music is definitely wider than one's exterior notion of it. Not just Art-Rock, but Art-Rock bordering on quasi Jazz-Fusion (sometimes with a sense of authentic Jazz-Fusion) is what I've heard on most of the tracks here. It's difficult to mark out some of the musicians who all, as one, are true craftsmen, but I think I have to note that organ and piano are foregrounding keyboards and that solos and passages of acoustic guitar aren't unwelcome guests in this show. The Waves and especially The Wall of Silence have a pronounced chamber sound in places and are among my personal favorites. The title track is rather straightforward in comparison with the others, but the grandeur of its counterpart, Eternal Light Avenue, balances the scale of the album's overall attractiveness, which is really high. For its 5-minute length, this is an almost unbelievably diverse and complex composition, with lots of innovative ideas. It features the magical Sitar (whose solos have so much amazing overtones) as one of the central heroes in the play and is vastly different from the other tracks in general. Cathedral Metal, Hindu music and the primary style's features in approximately equal proportions form the essence of this outstanding number. That said, most of the other songs are also excellent.
Conclusion. The album is 41 minutes in length, so here is the conclusion: a perfect time for a perfect music. Kaos Moon is an extraordinary band, so after hearing "The Circle of Madness" most of the listening part of the Prog community will be certainly looking for more from them.
VM: February 7, 2005
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