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(47:47, Gentle Art of Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Buy Your Piece of Love 4:31 2. Welcome Tomorrow 8:03 3. Tune in Zone Out 4:17 4. Maybe Sometime Else Then 4:29 5. Revolution by Design 3:56 6. Behind a Veil of Snow 4:56 7. The Liquid Hourglass 2:37 8. Now the Waves of Sound Remain 10:20 9. This Last Favor 4:38 LINEUP: Markus Bratusa – vocals; guitars; programming Arthur Darnhofer-Demar – bass Gabe Cresnar – drums
Prolusion. The Austrian band PHI was formed back in 2006, and started making a name for themselves before breaking up a few years later. In 2011 the band reformed, and in their second phase of existence they have developed a style and presence that again have seen them steadily creating a presence for themselves in the contemporary scene. "Now the Waves of Sound Remain" is their third studio album, and was released through the German label Gentle Art of Music in the fall of 2014.
Analysis. It's always nice to get that experience of not quite knowing how to describe a band nor where to place them within a defined context. It's a tad frustrating, but also invigorating to come across bands that manage to piece together the known parts of music into constellations not directly corresponding to something you have encountered on numerous occasions before. In the case of Phi, the simple description is probably that they explore the turf somewhere between progressive rock and progressive metal, and that they are fond of subtle, quirky and sophisticated compositions. Their compositions tend to use many of the same elements, assembled in different manners and with plenty of minor and major alterations, but always in a way that makes their material sound consistent and by the same band, yet also subtly different from one track to the next. While there's no development as such, no sense of this being an album that in terms of style has a starting point and a conclusion that sees the band take us on a musical journey of development, there's still that feeling of having been taken on an interesting ride that does indeed have a starting point and a concise ending, and that we have visited different landscapes along the way. There's a sense of fulfillment about this production, at least for me, that makes this a great album experience, and the band manages to pull that off in a much more subtle manner than many others. In the namedropping department, bands like Rush, Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd merit a mention, as does, at least to some extent, Tool. The compositions tend to alternate between delicate, light toned guitar sequences and firmer, riff-based runs, sometimes given a slight psychedelic flavoring by way of echoing guitar details, at other times a smooth, cosmic tinge is added by way of keyboard textures, while chugging, quirky riffs add a touch of Tool to the proceedings, and edgy, feisty indie-flavored riff constructions the details that make The Mars Volta a reference. Sophisticated and well developed drum patterns are used to good effect, as is a bass guitar that ranges from tight and firm to booming and dominant. Various levels of distortion are employed on both bass and electric guitar, and the intensity ranges from the frail and delicate to the booming and aggressive, with plenty of stops along the way in between these extremes. Always with a focus on melody, with a fair share of extremely well developed chorus sections or recurring themes, depending on the song in question, and with strong, developed and controlled lead vocals with an emphasis on melodic delivery. Enjoyable through and through, always well developed and with a suitable mix and production that are well balanced and that manage to get the best out of the material explored. A surprisingly coherent affair throughout, and a production with plenty of material that manages to reach that magical, goosebumps-inducing level of total musical bliss.
Conclusion. Throw Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Rush and Tool into the blender and season with some touches of The Mars Volta, perhaps with some Riverside too, and you may end up with an end result like this. Well developed and highly enjoyable music, atmospheric-laden and gentle, as well as edgy, feisty and powerful, compelling, sophisticated and also rather quirky at times. Those who enjoy bands that explore the landscapes in the borderlands between progressive rock and progressive metal will most likely be a key audience for Phi and the band’s 2014 album "Now the Waves of Sound Remain".
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 3, 2015
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