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(42 min, Unicorn)
TRACK LIST: 1. Qwhat 6:18 2. Dementia 3:29 3. Leviosa 5:13 4. Chromium 3:52 5. Nebuleuse 2:48 6. Nuclide 3:01 7. Inversion 4:20 8. Mobius 1:56 9. Tribajique 1:00 10. Cumulus 3:12 11. Hindi 4:15 12. Double 2:52 All tracks: by Fleurent & Vanier, except 12: J. S. Bach. Produced by Talisma. LINEUP: Donald Fleurent - bass, electric & classical guitars; synthesizers Martin Vanier - electric & baritone guitars; guitar-synth Mark Di Claudio - drums & percussion With: Felix Leroux - percussion (7, 8, 9)
Prolusion. "Chromium" is the second album by Quebec's Progressive Rock trio TALISMA, following "Corpus" from two years ago. The lineup has not undergone any changes.
Analysis. The band took more than a noticeable step forward with their second album, having brought to perfection perhaps every aspect of their music, above all composition and performance mastery. Give no heed to the shortness of most of the tracks, because although the average duration of these twelve instrumentals is only three and a half minutes, almost all of them sound like epics, being incredibly eventful. By the way, the longest piece, Owhat, is probably the most accessible, with an emphasis on the melodic refinement. It was wise of the band to use it as an opening number; it's like the gate leading to their new musical adventures. The next three compositions: Dementia, Leviosa and the title track are fantastic. The music embraces a wide spectrum of what is currently regarded as quintessential '70s' symphonic Prog, being processed through the trio's amazingly original vision of how it might all sound in the new millennium without being not in the least bit derivative. In intensity and impetuosity there is something in common between this stuff and Yes's richest example of swirling arrangements, The Gates of Delirium. Whether accidentally or not, the album is constructed (or compiled, if you will) in the way that you can easily divide it into a few 'stylistic' sections, separated from each other by shorter pieces: those lasting less than 3 minutes. Then Nebuleuse would be the first mark. Although there is nothing but synthesizer passages, this is an emotional, picturesque composition with a strong mysterious sense, reminding me slightly of the mesmerizing Sphinx or Stonehenge by Black Sabbath. (To those finding that I too often refer to this English ensemble in my reviews I'd highly recommend to check out each of their albums rated here with six starts.) Just like the first four compositions, Nuclide and Inversion are dynamic and intense, with all of the instruments credited being widely used throughout, though keyboards more often serve as the background for the battles between bass, acoustic, electric and baritone guitars. The technique that Robert Fripp invented prior to King Crimson's second incarnation was used here for certain, but still without leaving a sense of derivation. Having passed over a bridge constructed of two brief benefit performances for acoustic guitar, bass and congas, Mobius and Tribajique, we find some more transparent and melodic pieces, Cumulus and Hindi. Both are guitar-laden Art-Rock that may remind you of Camel, but once again, the similarities are relative and even minor. The album finishes with Double, which is a two-part piece of Baroque Classical music, performed on bass instead of organ, as did its author Johannes Sebastian Bach.
Conclusion. While something keeps me from giving "Chromium" the highest rating, which is six stars with an exclamation mark, the album is very close to masterwork status, giving me solid listening pleasure. Wholeheartedly recommended. Top-2005
VM: October 25, 2005
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