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Parhelia - 2006 - "First Light"

(22:08 / 'Parhelia')



1.  First Light 2:32 
2.  A Second Changes Everything 5:36 
3.  Cloudbreak 4:58 
4.  Ebb/Flow 3:31 
5.  Waves Turn 5:19


Greg Clarke - guitar
Diarmuid Shore - guitar
Cathal Rodgers - bass
Andy Clarke - drums 

Prolusion. "First Light" is the debut release by Canadian quartet PARHELIA.

Analysis. As should be clear from the track listing and the lineup above, this 22-minute EP comprises five instrumentals tracks. In terms of both style and sound, the cuts have very much in common between them, differentiating from each other almost exclusively in the saturation of their content. As far as I can figure out, Parhelia plays a mixture of Alternative, Grunge and modern Space Rock (the music being prog-tinged at its best manifestations), though the corresponding textures much more often simply alternate with each other than merge into one substance. Since my knowledge of the first two said directions is more than merely poor, I can't say whether there are anyone's influences in the conformable sections. In short, I only hear some distant echoes of late Porcupine Tree on the recording, but anyway, Parhelia's music leaves me cold - despite its possible originality, it's both too simple and (what's probably most significant) emotionless to suit my personal taste. The group includes two guitar players, and yet, the album is lacking in decent guitar solos, whilst the rhythms are really ubiquitous, pursuing the listener from the EP's first note to the last. Despite the shortness of the tracks, each contains enough repeats to have time to bother a prog head already upon the first spin. Nevertheless, three tunes, namely the title track, Cloudbreak and Ebb/Flow, each reveal some noticeable transitions, besides which there are some tempo changes to be found on these, none of the meters being trivial. Well, I haven't found 'square' measures on the two remaining pieces, A Second Changes Everything and Cloudbreak, either, but their overall compositional narrowness reduces almost to nothing the effectual work of the rhythm section - which generally appears to be the most progressive voice in this performance. All in all, both these are quite straightforward tunes, and if the former reveals at least one brief digression from its primary storyline (towards something remotely resembling space music), the latter is monotonous throughout.

Conclusion. The music Parhelia present on this their first EP is constructed in such a way that each of the pieces sounds for the most part like a platform for singing, thus leaving a very strong impression of being a song which is only performed without vocals, for some uncertain reason. If the group finds a good singer who, additionally, would write good lyrics, say, on the topic of the day as it's applied to mass culture, they'll get a chance to take refuge:-) within the precincts of some major or semi-major label. As it is, "First Light" is a shot into nowhere, unless it's a kind of zeroing in.

VM: April 4, 2007

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