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(73 min, Galileo)
TRACK LIST: 1. Voices 6:08 2. August in Me 4:51 3. Party Piece 5:35 4. Still 6:41 5. Septic 6:23 6. Faith 6:24 7. Second Thoughts 6:35 8. After 4:46 9. Curtain Call 7:15 10. Forget Me Now 9:42 11. Ghosts 8:27 SOLO PILOT: T - instruments; programming; vocals
Prolusion. A one-man ensemble working under the ultra-laconic moniker of T is back in the ranks with his new offering "Voices", which is a follow-up to his debut solo CD "Naive" from 2002. T is a 'scenic' pseudonym of Thomas THIELEN, formerly a guitarist and singer for the German one-shot Scythe.
Analysis. "Voices" shows progress in comparison with "Naive", which I can't view otherwise than as a decent variation on "This Strange Engine" - one of those Marillion recordings that aren't too exemplary in my understanding. This time around, some stronger albums by the British Neo Heroes have served as sources for Thomas's inspiration, but I'd better describe the material step by step instead of naming them right now. The CD runs 73+ and features 11 tracks, none of which surprisingly is a makeweight. Additionally, one piece is made up of purely instrumental arrangements, some others containing quite a large amount of such. The storylines that the CD begins and ends with (the first half of the title track and the second half of the last song, Ghosts, to be more precise) turn out to be the most unexpected, especially the latter which finds Thomas following the direction of a Blues-based quasi Jazz-Fusion, while the album's opening theme is a dark atmospheric Ambient. The other half of each is a slow, reflective Neo Prog much in the style of Marillion's "Afraid of Sunlight" (regarding the vocals and the music as such alike), though often in the presence of heavy guitar riffs laying emphasis on the basic chords, all the peculiarities being typical of most of the album. Surely, the use of a drum machine is also a distinction. To Thomas's credit, the machine is programmed convincingly, besides which it often sounds like an electric drum kit, and when it does, I hear some definite echoes of Genesis's "Invisible Touch" as well. I perceive Still and Forget Me Now to be the same for "Voices" as Beyond You and Gazpacho are for "Afraid of Sunlight", while After and Curtain Call remind me of, say, statistically-average songs from that disc. Apart from Thomas's traditional equipment (electric guitar, bass, synthesizers, programming and microphone), each of the remaining four songs, August in Me, Party Piece, Faith and Second Thoughts, involves acoustic guitar, piano and the sampled sounds of cello, violin and Mellotron. At times it sounds to me as if a complete violin quartet is playing here. These are not only much more saturated in sound, but are also notable for dynamic transitions accompanied by change of tempo and mood. Just like Marillion's most ambitious (and most underrated) effort "Brave", each is full of subtle nuances, though the comparison is generally inevitable. Septic could be described with the same words, with just the supplement that it's the most diverse and compelling composition on the CD, in which is no wonder as the piece is purely instrumental.
Conclusion. If you like the said Marillion creations and would be happy to listen to someone quite successfully cultivating similar areas, your day has come, you may be sure. Recommended to all Neo-headed despite the fact that I know (and not by hearsay) that some of you hate "Brave".
VM: July 25, 2006
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