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Solstice Coil - 2005 - "A Prescription for Paper Cuts"

(51 min, 'Solstice Coil')

TRACK LIST:                             
1.  Photosensitivity 4:13
2.  Caveat Emptor 1:33
3.  Selling Smoke 4:04
4.  Deep Child 6:15
5.  Even Poets Die 7:18
6.  Accidents 6:01
7.  Enjoy the Ride 5:31
8.  Anyone Can Be 6:45
9.  Brilliance 4:46


Shai Yallin - keyboards, acoustic piano
Ofer Vishnia - lead guitars, E-bow
Shir Deutch - vocals; guitars
Diego Olschansky - basses
Uri Goldberg - drums
Oran Ben-Avi - saxophones (1, 7)
Nella Cohen-Shani - cello (9)
Inbal Deutch - vocals (6, 7)

Prolusion. "A Prescription for Paper Cuts" is the first official CD by the Israeli formation SOLSTICE COIL. They also have two singles, both released in 2004.

Analysis. Many true connoisseurs of progressive rock have probably paid attention to the fact that the emotional content of some musical works looks from time to time pale and weak despite the complexity and diversity of their compositional structures. Even the most inventive tracks in this case leave the listener tired and bored. A certain balance between intricacy and expression should always take place in progressive music. The young Israeli band Solstice CoiI certainly knows that. Their debut album, "A Prescription for Paper Cuts", is a result of their intensive efforts through the last two years and is saturated by the atmosphere of sadness, bitterness and infinite sorrow from beginning to end, without exaggeration. There is no place for joy, happy serenity or lucid calmness here. Both the instrumental arrangements and vocal parts render a sense of the autumn depression and a fatality of the approaching finale. Structurally the music is versatile and intricate, with classical influences appearing in different fragments. The sound is more powerful and energetic than that, which we are used to hear in the art-rock releases, but it's not as heavy as that in the metal projects. So I think it wouldn't be incorrect to define the group's style as an academically oriented progressive rock. The voice of Shir Deutch is clean, without overtones; its traditional range combines with falsetto very naturally, not contradicting with the general music texture. The vocal parts aren't sugary as in the case of Bee Gees, for example. On the other hand, they are devoid of hysterical screams, which take place in King Diamond's compositions. The first track, Photosensitivity, begins with a classically influenced keyboard solo, which soon turns smoothly into a vocal section. The chord progression develops dynamically and is very interesting, the saxophone passages coming in useful very much. All the melodic lines are impressive and original. Caveat Emptor is short enough; it is performed in the space-rock style, though its atmosphere is full of disturbance and anxiety. This is an intro to the next track, Selling Smoke. The odd meter changes together with the content's thematic development make the piece really complex, in the best progressive meaning. The presence of a spoken part enhances the emotional tension. It's fairly easy to recognize the arrangements' accuracy in this composition, but the over-measured prolongation of the final fragment is an evident failure. Deep Child isn't as much depressing as the previous works, and nevertheless, it sounds rather sad. The introduction to the piece has been played in 3/4, but then the rhythmic meters change often, as well as melodies and arrangements. The usually dominating keyboards give way to the guitars, whose passages' virtuosity increases closer to the culmination. The palette of sounds becomes more exquisite towards the end. The part of Grand Piano crowns this lively musical story. The following two tracks, Even Poets Die and Accidents, can be described almost analogously, with negligible differences. They are also diverse and atmospheric in a great measure. The first of them is less intense than most of the tracks, while the second one is notable for the addition of one more vocal part. Anyone Can Be is probably the most intricate and lavishly arranged composition in the program. The themes, moods and rhythmic constructions follow one another with astonishing frequency and unpredictability. The art-rock traditions are evident on Enjoy the Ride and, in the bigger measure, on Brilliance. The specific coloration of keyboards on the former evokes comparisons with a discordant piano, while the vocal melody is almost Doom-metal-like. The saxophone passages introduce a freshness and originality into the composition, as it also takes place on the first track, Photosensitivity. The final opus, Brilliance, is the most academically oriented, contrasting with the previous pieces in a certain measure. Its conception reminds me of one of Alice Cooper's sentences: "If everything's red, nothing's red". The string arrangements make this composition marvelously elegant; the vocal melodies are vivid and exquisite.

Conclusion. The history of progressive music incorporates a large number of absolutely unique and authentic masterpieces, and it might be difficult for beginners to create something really vigorous and without relationship to achievements of the past. The young Israeli quintet Solstice Coil has fulfilled this project successfully. Their debut effort leaves a forceful impression and can be recommended to all the connoisseurs of complex, emotionally saturated progressive-rock.

VF: January 20, 2006

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