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(67 min, 'Karcius')
TRACK LIST: 1. Runide 7:31 2. Liquid Meat 5:55 3. Evolution 3:14 4. Highway to the Moon 6:51 5. Synapse 5:10 6. Back to Earth 6:33 7. 1111 8:24 8. Labyrinthe 9:03 9. Bois la Musique 4:24 10. Absolute Decadence 10:21 All tracks: by Karcius. Produced by Karcius. LINEUP: Simon L'Esperanze - guitars Mingan Sauriol - pianos, keyboards Thomas Brodeur - drums, percussion Dominique Blouin - bass
Prolusion. KARCIUS is comprised of four young Canadian musicians, whose average age to date is only 24. The very next year after the band was formed (in 2001), the guys undertook a massive tour over the clubs in their homeland, and they still continue doing live performances from time to time. So there is nothing supernatural that their first studio recording, "Sphere", has a strong live feel to it. Very few overdubs can be found on the album.
Analysis. Doubtlessly, the French-language Canadian province of Quebec is the flagship of the country's Prog Rock movement, and the flow of bright musical talents from there seems to be endless. How many superb bands came out from there? Their name is Legion. On their debut album, Karcius appear to be more than merely worthy followers of the province's glorious progressive traditions. This is a group of genuinely masterful musicians, gifted composers and inventive arrangers. These youngsters' proGfessionalism is so striking that it seems they absorbed their knowledge of music along with the milk of their mothers. The band's creative horizon is very broad; only their principal preferences embrace Jazz-Fusion, Prog-Metal, Art-Rock and Classical music. How do you like it! The former two genres are traditionally regarded as nearly incompatible, and there are few bands in Prog Rock's history that accomplished success while trying to unite them into one cohesive whole. Of course, it's obvious what I should say now that Karcius is another winner in that field; a real winner, because they not only succeeded in synthesizing different styles, harmonies and keys, they've done that without troubling anyone else in the music world in order to borrow something. It would be especially pointless (and tactless) to draw parallels between Karcius and Jazz-Metal alchemists, e.g. Watchtower, Atheist, Cynic, which is not because those never bothered themselves with the use of keyboards. Just different matters, that's all. From the very beginning of their activity, Karcius cultivated their own, distinctly original songwriting, and it will astonish any sucker for originality, like me. Another great value of the album is that the music is intricate-intriguing throughout, with constantly evolving arrangements and lots of unexpected changes in structure, tempo, tone and mood-related dimensions. Although I am always some better disposed towards prolonged compositions, in this case I must admit that each of the ten tracks is excellent, regardless of their duration. The first six: Runide, Liquid Meat, Evolution, Highway to the Moon, Synapse and Back to Earth are kindred entities, both stylistically and regarding their emotional specter, which is broad, but with the prevalence of moderately dark and dramatic colors. The music either moves back and forth between quasi Jazz-Fusion and Prog-Metal or, more often, appears as a blend of the idioms with some certain symphonic tendencies, authentic improvisations and brief detours into the spheres of seeming asymmetries. The three main soloing forces: guitarist Simon L'Esperanze, keyboardist Mingan Sauriol and bassist Dominique Blouin often play in different styles and/or harmonies, easily replacing each other in solving their multi-purpose tasks. (Note: the overall picture always remains coherent and, therefore, quite easily comprehensible.) Of course, it would've been strange if drummer Thomas Brodeur were unable to reach the only right decision in every situation. Acoustic and electric pianos are the primary keyboards almost everywhere on the album. The acoustic guitar solos play a key role only on the first three tracks, those opening and closing Runide being flavored with elements of Flamenco, but I wouldn't say I miss them on the other compositions. Bois la Musique leans more in the symphonic and quasi-improvisational directions, with less of swing and a metallic sense. Labyrinthe is the heaviest, piano developing mainly the symphonic line also. The longest compositions: 1111 and Absolute Decadence are free of any forms of improvisation and have much in common with each other, in addition (so I would have placed the former on the album's other pole). There are sweepingly grandiose piano passages running through each, alone and being twisted within the general fabric, also. So while these are basically a blend of symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, both are marked with the indelible trace of Classical music. The last four tracks run 32 minutes, so it shouldn't be wrong to say that they form the album's second half, which, in turn, will be a feast for you, symphonic Prog-Metal lovers.
Conclusion. The boys possess everything necessary to climb the ladder. I mean, on the creative level - not commercially, of course, at least presently. Karcius's "Sphere" is a masterful outcome. It's for use in perpetuity. Don't miss! Top-20-2005
VM: September 9, 2005
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