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t - 2015 - "Fragmentropy"

(75:16, Progressive Promotion Records)


1.  A Sky-High Pile of Anarchy 14:06
2.  Brand New Mornings 13:03
3.  Uncertainty 7:17
4.  Entanglement 16:38
5.  Eigenstates 6:38
6.  The Black of White 9:15
7.  Shades of Silver 8:20


t  vocals; all instruments

Prolusion. The German project T is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Thomas Thielen, formerly of the German band Scythe, but now with a solo career that has been ongoing ever since he released his first album using the t moniker in 2002. "Fragmentropy" is his fifth full-length production, released in 2015 by Progressive Promotion Records.

Analysis. The music crafted by Thielen is one that, I guess, will be described by many as accessible and mainstream-oriented. He isn't the kind of artist all that concerned about adhering to the legacy of the great bands from yesteryear, from what I can understand, and if any comparisons can be made it would be towards the likes of later day Marillion and perhaps Radiohead as far as general mood and atmosphere is concerned, as well as in the kind of instruments and arrangements used. But the music as such is markedly different from any of those, as well as of bands exploring that part of the progressive rock universe, and in terms of structure Thielen's compositions are actually fairly demanding, if not even challenging. That we're treated to elongated sequences where the pace, mood, main theme and lead motif may alter every 5 seconds or so is a big part of that picture, the notes I took when listening to this album for occurrences of this kind are much more than double the length of this review. With such a massive amount of details, summarizing this experience into a cohesive and understandable description, isn't a task I suspect anyone will master to perfection. In this case I think a more general description of how this production unfolds in a broader context is most appropriate. The opening track starts with a dampened, dark mood, filled with whispering sound details and delicate, brooding and unnerving sounds as a whole, gradually opening up to a more melancholic and majestic expression, concluding this initial almost 15-minute epic on an almost jubilant note, with plenty of references, at least for me, towards the later day Hogarth-era Marillion in the final third or so of this creation. The following five compositions ebb and flow between a multitude of styles, most of them incorporating each and every one of them within the confines of the individual creation. Gentle, atmospheric passages with piano or acoustic guitar, supporting whispered voices, spoken voice or regular lead vocals, a richer version of the same featuring orchestral-oriented keyboard surges are found aplenty, as are passages sporting nervous, light toned textured guitars in the post rock style, this latter detail liberally used throughout, and on the other end of the scale we have firm, vibrant guitar riff and drum-driven passages with and without organ supplementing. These are the main theme variations used, with a liberal amount of variations and mixes of these coming and going, sometimes with electronic sounds supplementing, at other times with careful keyboard details added in, and fairly often with rich and majestic keyboard arrangements added for a more powerful impact. The occasional impact riff makes some appearances too when it comes to that. The CD then concludes with a relatively short creation, clocking in at just over 8 minutes, where the opening 5 ones revolve around a dark, slow-paced atmospheric sequence, revisiting the more brooding and ominous mood from the album opener, then opening up for a harder edged, more vibrant end sequence that concludes on a delicate note. One should note that while there's a massive amount of changes and alterations in each of the compositions, even the more atmospheric-laden concluding track has its fair share of details coming and going throughout, this is all seamlessly woven together, often with several, if subtle, sounds and textures, maintaining a good flow, and often it's Thielen's versatile vocals that have that role, with a liberal amount of whispered voices in the background, alternating in that capacity, or supplementing, besides a fair degree of more delicate sounds and effects. It's an organic whole, but also one fragmented. The title of this production, "Fragmentropy", describes the material quite well, I think, and is also a strong indication about the mood and atmosphere of the output. This isn't, to put it that way, an album's worth of good mood and uplifting material. Often impressive and at times breathtaking, especially on opening track A Sky-High Pile of Anarchy.

Conclusion. "Fragmentropy" comes across as a fairly eclectic and demanding production, arguably with a foundation inside modern day neo-progressive rock and post-rock, but made with an approach that makes it hard to categorize inside any of those stylistic contexts easily. But it will be those who enjoy bands of that kind, I suspect, who will be the main audience for this album, alongside those who enjoy bands like Marillion, Radiohead and other artists that have been or are still creating progressive rock founded on contemporary music to a much greater degree than the classic progressive rock from yesteryear.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: August 15, 2015
The Rating Room

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