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Tracklist: 1. 23 Enigma 5:10 (Hunt, Wilder, Meston) 2. Shot Down In Flames 5:40 (Hunt, Wilder, Meston) 3. Light From Dark 6:25 (Hunt, Wilder, Meston) 4. Moondance 4:59 (Hunt, Wilder, Meston) 5. Plans 4:08 (Hunt, Wilder, Meston) 6. City of Dreaming Spires 4:57 (Hunt, Wilder, Meston) 7. Wherever You Turn 6:25 (Hunt, Wilder, Meston) 8. Toccata & Fugue In D Minor 7:49 (J. S. Bach; arr. by Hunt, Tilbrook, Beere, Wells) 9. Can't Say No 4:01 (Hunt, Wilder, Tilbrrook, Leek, Day, Wells) All lyrics: by R. Wilder. Line-up: Max Hunt - keyboards, drum-programming, backing vocals Rupert Wilder - guitars, lead vocals Steve Meston - bass, backing vocals And (on tracks 8 & 9 only): Tim Day - guitar Nick Beere - guitar Bob Leek - lead vocals Jason Tilbrook - bass Tony Wells - drums Gerlinde Hunt - keyboards Produced by M. Hunt, R. Wilder, & S. Melton. Recorded & mixed by 'Force Ten Productions' in 1996 (except tracks 8 & 9: in 2001). Mastered by David J. Burrows. Tantalus's discography: 1992 - "Smoking Angels" (private CD release, available from "Hi-Note") /same line-up as in 1996/ 1996 - "Short Stories" (MC, released on CD in 2001 by "Hi-Note") 2000 - "Jubal" (CD by "Hi-Note") The new Tantalus album is scheduled for summer 2002.
Prologue. As you can see above, "Short Stories" is the second Tantalus album, which was originally released only on cassette. Only recently was it mastered from the original master tapes and released on CD. Until now, I was sure that "Jubal" was the only album by Tantalus. To read the review on this album, click here.
The Album. In fact, the original "Short Stories" album contained not all of the tracks that are featured on this CD, but only the first seven of them. The ninth track is also from the "Short Stories" sessions, though it wasn't used at that time. Finally, Toccata (track 8) is a new recording. Following my habit to categorize the different constituents of the albums that were created not within the framework of a unified stylistics, I'll divide "Short Stories" into the three equivalent parts. Then the first of them will include the Classic Symphonic Art-Rock instrumentals. Here they are: 23 Enigma, Moondance, and Toccata & Fugue In D Minor (tracks 1, 4, & 8). The Classic Art-Rock songs will feature the second part. These songs are: Light From Dark, Plans, and Wherever You Turn (tracks 3, 5, & 7). Both of the first instrumentals and all three of the songs were created in the vein of the same stylistics. So, with regard to the development of the arrangements, all of these five tracks are in many ways similar among themselves. In that way, their main characteristics can be described as simply as those of the other works of the Classic Art-Rock genre. The masterful solos of various keyboards (including piano), guitar, and bass, and effective interplay between these instruments, frequent changes of tone and mood, etc. All of the said tracks are excellent, but the standout is the 8-minute Toccata & Fugue In D Minor. This wonderful Art-Rock rendition of the famous piece by the first Rock composer and musician of Earth is also marked by the most impressive musicianship I've ever heard from this band. Well, it is time to describe the contents of the third part. All three of the remaining tracks are genuine progressive ballads. In this very case, however, each of them must be described separately. Shot Down In Flames (track 2) is on the whole nothing else but the Blues. The stylistics of City of Dreaming Spires (track 6) can be defined as mellow Hard Rock. Finally, Can't Say No (track 10) is an Art-Rock ballad. However, all of these rather quiet songs are featured by truly progressive instrumental arrangements that, in addition, flow nonstop, regardless of whether there are vocal parts. Of course, the latter attribute is especially evident on the Classic Art-Rock songs.
Summary. It may surprise you, dear readers, but on the whole, I find "Short Stories" more integral and even a bit more serious an album than "Jubal". Both of the bonus tracks look like a very proper addition to the album's original content, which is by no means a frequent event on the contemporary Progressive Rock scene. Yes, the presence of a real drummer in the band is always better than the drum machine, but for the "Short Stories" album, it had been programmed very well. As for me, the latter is better than the joint work of the drum machine and a real drummer, which I hear on the most of the tracks on "Jubal". Sometimes, time revises the view even on those things that seemed to be unshakable. Meanwhile, "Short Stories" comes highly recommended to most of the Symphonic Prog lovers in general.
VM. March 5, 2002
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