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(59:49, ‘Symbolon Obscura’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Reality Frame 7:02 2. Clear Vision 11:00 3. Cast Out 5:10 4. Unleashed 3:26 5. Control 4:33 6. Symbolon 10:19 7. RFID 6:59 8. Pilrim 11:20 LINEUP: Michael DeMichele – vocals; guitars, bass; keyboards Simon Janis – drums, percussion With: Tim Carraher – bass; keyboards
Prolusion. The US project SYMBOLON OBSCURA is the creative vehicle of composer, musician and physician Michael DeMichele, continuing the path he established as a self -ecording artist with his previous venture Object Permanence. This self-titled release is the first of two albums released so far under this new moniker.
Analysis. The good man Michael DeMichele, a very pleasant person I've met on a few occasions, is among the chosen few that can describe himself as a "prog doc". He is a certified doctor, and he creates progressive music in his spare time, when not going to see progressive rock artists playing live that is. I understand he spends a lot of time on this hobby, as a creator as well as a spectator, and presumably a lot of money too. He is a good man, basically, and a strong supporter of the progressive rock scene in the US. As a creator of music he does have his shortcomings though. That he records his material in a DIY manner obviously does impact on the quality of the final product, and while he is a fine physician he does have a bit to learn in the fields of recording, mixing and production if he desires to get a professional end result. And while his compositions often have some rather good ideas, with the guitar riff and solo combinations often worthwhile and fairly often his keyboard arrangements and motifs as additional strong points, his compositions tend to be somewhat lacking as a whole. At worst with a general lack of cohesion, that it becomes increasingly unclear for me as a listener why a song develops as it does as well as where it is going, at best with if not a clear path lined up then at least with a succession of pleasant moods and atmospheres mapped out. Mix and production tend to have a detrimental effect on the final product though, and the drums and vocals are additional weak aspects of this album, the former being steady in sort of lackluster manner, at least for someone that listens to a lot of progressive rock, while the vocals are too thin and too out of tune and harmony on too many occasions. Many of the ideas explored in these songs are sound however, and many of the songs feature sections and passages rather compelling too, in a lo-fi and demo quality manner. Bands like Rush and Blue Oyster Cult are likely inspirations, and a brief opening section on one of the tracks here is one that is almost agonizingly similar to one of Rush' numerous classics.
Conclusion. Michael DeMichele is a really nice guy, and I wish I could be more positive about his creations than what is the case. He does have some rather good ideas, and many of the compositions on this album could become rather engaging songs given the right circumstances, possibly even really good ones. As they are however, they aren't by far that compelling, with too many major flaws to be recommendable. There are some good tracks present, in a Rush meets Blue Oyster Cult kind of way, but the lacking quality in performance and execution makes these sketches ones that will have a rather limited reach and appeal.
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