[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(90 min DVD, Unicorn)
TRACK LIST: 1. Jamosphere 2. Green Teeth 3. Toxox 4. A Freak Az 5. Delirium Tremens 6. Magnetyzme 7. The Fifth Dimension 8. Futurosphere 9. Glassosphere 10. For The Trees Too 11. Trophallaxie 12. Sever the Seven 13. Furax LINEUP: Antoine Fafard - bass Martin Maheux - drums Louis Cote - guitar Eric St-Jean - keyboards
Prolusion. SPACED OUT is definitely one of the most well known contemporary progressive bands hailing from the Canadian French-speaking province of Quebec. The "Live 2000" DVD is their fourth output, following three studio albums: "Spaced Out" (2000), "Eponymus-II" (2001) and "Slow Gin" (2003), all released via the renowned Canadian label Unicorn Digital.
Analysis. While reading the credits at the very end of the DVD I was surprised to know that the concert was shot by a single cameraman. The visuals are remarkably diverse and vivid, now depicting one of the musicians (often down to the smallest details, such as the fingertips running the length and breadth of the bass neck), now the entire quartet - from various perspectives, at times even from behind, etc. It's clear it took much time for the band and their crew to shoot the material, but then the final result of their effort is more than merely satisfactory. (Just remembered some other DVD releases, on which the picture remains quite static throughout.) The event was documented after the band had already appeared on the Progressive Rock map - as a corollary of the release of their eponymous debut album. So there is nothing supernatural in the fact that the DVD features nine (out of ten) pieces from "Spaced Out" and four numbers from its then-forthcoming follow-up "Eponymus-II". Much more interesting is the development of the musical events here, which - whether accidentally or not - turned out to be somewhat linked with the laws of symmetry. The pieces taking the polar positions in the set, Jamosphere and Furax, are the jazziest in character, all the musicians intensively jamming throughout. Both are genuine, adrenalin-stimulating Jazz-Fusion, revealing plenty of the direction's trademark features: from complex syncopations with some unison solos to free improvisational flights in the absence of customary shades in the emotional palette. Starting with the second piece, Green Teeth, the music slowly, yet steadily begins finding more and more complete shapes, reaching an intermediate peak of structural cohesion on Delirium Tremens. Running ahead, I will note that another transitional track is Glassosphere, beginning with which the music evolves in the reverse order, this and the other implied tracks being from "Eponymus-II". This observation is directly concerned with the following sentence. I believe those well acquainted with the first two albums by Spaced Out will come to the same conclusion as I did - most of the works presented on this DVD aren't blind copies of their studio counterpart, they come with a more pronounced improvisational approach, which can certainly be explained by the fact that, like any truly live band, these men sincerely enjoy playing impromptu onstage. Although I am certainly not one who has problems with jazz, generally speaking, while approaching the core tracks I nevertheless must admit I like them somewhat better. Their titles: Magnetyzme, The Fifth Dimension and Futurosphere are very well suited to their musical essence, which is multi-dimensional, full of magnetism and has a certain futuristic sense, too. The edges are rhythmically much harder, the mood is vastly more corporeal and, say, terrestrial than on the other pieces, even though it touches on the darker sectors of the emotional spectrum. To a certain degree, early Allan Holdsworth, King Crimson in the '90s and their "alternative project", ProjeKct, can be used as points of comparison regarding these, though the middle section of The Fifth Dimension is an almost-symphonic interplay between punctuated bass solos and lush passages of string ensemble. Well, Spaced Out is a group of independently thinking musicians, having their own, truly unique vision of music. I hate to compare them to anyone else, but I've done this just in case, for the sake of those still unfamiliar with their creation.
Conclusion. Those loving Spaced Out, as I do, will experience a lot of moments of happiness while watching this DVD. Highly recommended. As for the new, potential travelers to the world of this group, it depends on their attitude towards this review, though of course, it's not the truth in the last instance. As the Great Danish physicist Niels Bohr said, I'd ask you to regard all my statements as questions! :-)
VM: February 18, 2006
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]