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Tracklist: More Exotic Ways to Die (tracks 1 to 6: 27:12): 1. Impaled on Railing (Tilson) 2. A Man of Thin Air (Watts, Tilson) 3. Embalmed In Acid (Tilson) 4. The Heavy Metal Guillotine Approach (Tilson) 5. Drum One (Watts) 6. The One That Sounds Like Tangerine Dream (Tilson) 7. A Body In Free Drift 8:29 (Tilson) 8. The Dream 2:35 (Watts) 9. Petroleum Addicts 11:02 (Tilson, Baine, Watts) Arrangements: by Parallel Or 90 Degrees. Line-up: Andy Tilson Diskdrive - vocals; organs & synthesizers Sam Baine - piano & synthesizers Dan Watts - electric guitar Ken Senior - bass guitar Alex King - drums & percussion
Prologue. I wasn't acquainted with the creation of PO90D until now. From rumors however, I know that this is a serious band, the music of which is filled with all the hallmarks of Classic Symphonic Progressive. Apart from the new album, this pre-production demonstration CD contains also the multimedia section. The latter includes the very first PO90D album, recorded in 1989, a lot of unreleased tracks, and video materials. Unfortunately, my home computer doesn't satisfy the requirements that are necessary to play the multimedia CD's. Officially, the "More Exotic Ways to Die" CD will be released in two weeks. This is already the sixth album by the band.
The Album. Not only the parts of the epic piece More Exotic Ways to Die, but all the tracks that are featured on this album were created within the framework of a unified stylistics. I know that as a whole, "More Exotic Ways to Die" is not even a concept album. However, most of all, this album (as a whole!) reminds me of those kinds of Rock Operas that feature a single singer. For example, such albums as Marillion's "Brave", "Subterranea" by IQ, Arena's "The Visitor", etc, I regard exactly so. Musically, "More Exotic Ways to Die" is a distinctly original and in many ways unique album. All of the parallels that I draw in this review are only relative, but not comparative. While "Brave" is more an intricate album than "More Exotic Ways to Die", this one, in its turn, surpasses "The Visitor" by all means. Being on the whole of the same level of complexity as "Subterranea", the new PO90D album has, however, more a modern feel to it than any of the works that I've mentioned above. Also, many of the instrumental arrangements that are featured on "More Exotic Ways to Die" are, unlike those on all three of the said albums, clearly in the vein of Classic Art-Rock of the 1970s. Back to parallels, the other ones can be drawn between this album and Porcupine Tree's "Signify" (1996). These two works just marvelously combine within themselves both of such incompatible things as the complexity and accessibility. Yes, such a combination seems to be impossible in our dual world. Music however (and most of you know this), is not an Earthly substance. This set of sounds that is often much more impressive than any of the other arts (all of which, by the way, are based on the concrete symbols, etc), exists in Eternity where there are no any borders, and the parallel lines easily cross each other. So the union of complexity and accessibility in music is only seemingly impossible. Apart from the stylistic originality, that union is the main trump of the new music by PO90D. Well, stylistically, only the first part of More Exotic Ways to Die is kind of a progressive hit. On all the other tracks, the modern progressive structures and those that are typical for a hard-edged Classic Symphonic Art-Rock are balanced very well. It is really amazing to hear how wonderfully the accessible vocal parts sound if they were performed with the use of complex time signatures. Especially since the seemingly unobtrusive, but, in fact, very intriguing instrumental arrangements flow nonstop regardless whether there are vocals. Most often, the instrumental parts consist of diverse and contrasting interplay between the heavy and at the same time slow guitar riffs and fast, bright and virtuosi, solos of synthesizer, organ, and electric guitar (or vice versa). The alternation of power and soft structures is typical for this album as well. The latter of them contain for the most part the touching vocals along with the affecting passages of piano. Andy Tilson's vocals are kind of theatrically dramatic, which is always appropriate and, on the whole, typical for such a sort of albums. The work of both the 'bosses' of rhythm-section is masterful and diverse as well.
Summary. As I guess, PO90D is another band that makes an attempt to return the 'mainstream' status to Prog. Their new album "More Exotic Ways to Die" is, in my view, the best of those that were created with the same purpose during the last ten years, at least. Most of you, Prog-lovers, know that Porcupine Tree was the first progressive band that, thanks to their album "Lightbulb Sun" (2000), has signed a contract with a major label. In my view however, "Lightbulb Sun" is on the whole just a prog-tinged, but not a truly progressive album. It is way too poppy than even the previous Porcupine Tree album "Stupid Dream". Back to PO90D, I find "More Exotic Ways to Die" by all means (including 'progressive' ones) better than "Stupid Dream", not to mention "Lightbulb Sun". So I'd allow myself to doubt that this album will become a 'mainstream' landmark in the history of contemporary Progressive Rock movement. Though, of course, I would be happy if it would happen.
VM. May 9, 2002
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