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(46:49, Ozeta Prod)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Sweater 9:22 2. Stone in the Sky 5:35 3. Going Home 11:04 4. Aftermath 10:12 5. Stranger Coming Home 10:32 LINEUP: Frank B – lead & backing vocals; ac. guitar Mathieu G – bass, stick, baritone guitar Stephan D – guitars; keyboards; b/v Danny R – drums Sylvan L – flutes
Prolusion. Canadian quintet SENSE was formed at the very beginning of the new millennium. “Going Home” is their latest release, besides which they have two more studio recordings as well as one live album.
Analysis. Unlike The D Project which, while involving three of the band members, Stephane Desbiens, Mathieu Gosselin and Francis Boy (though, as far as I can remember, Danny Robertson ‘was there’ also), is in fact a solo enterprise of the first of them, Sense is the brainchild of their collective creative work. The five tracks on “Going Home” all have quite a good deal in common between themselves, but since each at the same time possesses something that sets it apart from the others, I’ll try not to miss out on any of those peculiarities, at least the most significant ones. For the most part, Sense is redolent of the style displayed by Yes in the second half of the ‘70s, but they are so resourceful in mixing their influence with their own ideas that (in contrast to the Project’s) most of their music sounds fairly fresh and rarely derivative. To be more precise, the implied similarity is only striking on the recording’s vocal angle, as Frank Boy’s delivery is quite much like Trevor Horn’s singing for that English band. In the final analysis, all the tracks here seem to be touched by the spirit of “Drama”, while the most dynamically evolving ones, The Sweater, the title piece and Aftermath, all have sections that are imbued with facets of it in a way. The first two of these contain a few heavy guitar riffs-driven movements, during which both are remotely reminiscent of Machine Messiah, though on the other hand all of them reveal a more distinct contrast between electric and acoustic instruments than that particular Yes album does – firstly because Sense has a flautist (who is presented as Sylvan L) in its lineup, and secondly due to their wider use of acoustic guitar. Each of these three semi-epics is dominated by quite intense as well as complex arrangements with many changes in pace and melody, at times transforming into the gentle weaving of largely acoustic textures, so none will be played out too quickly. Comparisons can also be made to Camel and – to a lesser degree – Genesis, as most of the flute trills are reminiscent of Andrew Latimer’s in approach, while all the parts of acoustic guitar that are played by fingering evoke Steve Hackett’s. What also unites all the said songs is that their purely instrumental arrangements occasionally conjure up impressions of darkness which, in turn, arouses associations with Van Der Graaf Generator, besides which each has a brief jazz-fusion interlude, none of these features to be found in the rest of the material. Stranger Coming Home is only slightly less detailed and more linear than its aforesaid album-mates, one of its core segments with the organ as its individual proprietor instantly bringing me back to Rick Wakeman’s gorgeous separate organ solo on “Close to the Edge”. Finally, the atmospherically-airy (yet still vintage-sounding) Stone in the Sky reminds me of a complicated version of Wondrous Stories from “Going for the One”, despite its largely acoustic, seemingly gossamer nature. Specifically I’d like to mention that Stephane Desbiens leaves the impression of being noticeably more efficient as a songwriter here than in The D Project, appearing also to be surprisingly much more convincing as both a guitar and a keyboard player.
Conclusion. Sense hardly breaks any new ground with their work, but what they do comes across as the adequate development of past achievements of the progressive rock genre (generally speaking). While not a masterwork, this is in many ways a remarkable creation and is way better than the majority of so-called modern mainstream Prog or anything else by those who, while burning with the desire to become, say, another Dream Theater, try on that legend’s mask, but rather look like they are instead wearing gas-masks in the end.
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