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1. While There's Still Time 8:35 (Hunt, Tilbrook, Leek) 2. Eyes 6:51 (Leek) 3. Raining On the Parade 8:18 (Hunt, Leek, Day; H. Crud) 4. Harp Dance & Dig the Sod (inst.) 7:07 (Hunt, Tilbrook) 5. Finger Painting 7:26 (Leek) 6. On Dr Syntax's Head 5:36 (Hunt, Tilbrook, Leek; H. Crud) 7. We're Sleeping (inst.) 2:46 (Leek) 8. Route Thirty Six - Part 2 (inst.) 9:38 (Hunt, Tilbrook) 9. Dancing On Eggshells 6:28 (Leek) 10. Hearts 'n' Minds 4:28 (Beere) 11. Black Dream 6:09 (N. James) Line-up: Max Hunt - keyboards; back vocals; programming; accordion Jason Tilbrook - basses, mandolins, & balalaika; dulcimer Bob Leek - lead vocals; classical guitars Nick Beere - electric & acoustic guitars; back vocals; percussion Tony Wells - drums Geraldine Hunt - keyboards; back vocals; recorder With: Tim Day - electric guitar (on 3 & 8) Engineered & mastered by Ben Creeki at "SPS" studio, Wiltshire, UK. Produced by Ernie Beck & Max Hunt.
Prologue. The third Tantalus album, "Lumen Et Caligo - I", is the first part of a two CD project (part II coming in 2003). According to the CD press kit, the title of this album reflects the fact that the band's compositions have expanded in their depth and variety to cover flowing, commercial, and lighter sounding material through to the most adventurous, powerful, and sometimes dark sounds that the band have ever produced.
The Album. On "Lumen Et Caligo - I" Tantalus, overall, follow the stylistics that was laid on their second album, "Jubal", and represented an original and modern sounding Classic Symphonic Progressive of a moderate complexity. However, this album is a bit less coherent than its predecessor. Above all, it's because of two out of the three songs written by Bob Leek, Eyes and Finger Painting (2 & 5), are, respectively, completely and almost completely out of the album's predominant stylistics, which is Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal. Both of these songs, and especially the first of them, Eyes, are about a superficial Neo and, thus, are much simpler than any of the other compositions on the album. However, thanks to the originality of Tantalus's music in general, I would hardly dare to rate them lower than merely good songs. Yes, those Eyes don't shine with (a musical) wisdom almost at all, but they are honest, at least, and this is all right with me, unlike any wannabe. (A review verse is the reverse of a reviewer's verse: speak this rapidly.) Especially since the remaining 57 minutes of the album's playing time are filled with excellent music, to say the least. To be precise, two out of the remaining nine tracks are excellent, and all the others are masterpieces. Bob Leak's third song, Dancing On Eggshells (9), and Nick Beere's Hearts 'n' Minds (10) are both about a very tasteful blend of Classic and Neo Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal. Nevertheless, Nick's first attempt at writing for Tantalus turned out to be the heaviest composition on the album. The seven masterworks are represented by four songs: While There's Still Time, Raining On the Parade, On Dr Syntax's Head, Black Dream (1, 3, 6, & 11) and three instrumentals: Harp Dance & Dig the Sod, We're Sleeping, and Route Thirty Six - Part 2 (4, 7, & 8). All four of the said songs are entities of a real Classic Symphonic Art-Rock (with elements of Prog-Metal, though) and are similar among themselves by many structural and performance aspects. The instrumental arrangements are masterful, diverse, and intensive throughout each of them regardless whether there are vocals or not and feature the complete set of the genre's progressive constituents. On this album I once again hear kind of a dramatically lazy lead vocal, though Bob Leek is not only an excellent singer, but also it was him who composed and performed the instrumental piece We're Sleeping. I don't know whether Bob implied himself and his guitar when giving a title to it, but in my honest opinion, this title is completely inappropriate for such a brilliant composition, which, stylistically, is nothing else but a piece of Classical Music masterly performed on an acoustic guitar. Both of the other instrumentals, Harp Dance & Dig the Sod and Route Thirty Six - Part 2, are, on the whole, of the same stylistics as all four of the best songs on the album. Though, unlike the latter, both of them have an obvious medieval and a slight folksy feel to them, which is the result of the active use of the harp-like solos of synthesizer and those of flute, acoustic guitar, and mandolin. Here and there on "Lumen Et Catigo - I" are also heard lush passages of a string ensemble, sax- and vibe-like solos of synthesizers, etc. Nevertheless, on a whole, the parts of the traditional Rock instruments, such as organs and synthesizers, electric and bass guitars, and drums, are predominant on the album. Otherwise it would've not contained such a bright modern constituent in its overall sound.
Summary. On the whole, "Lumen Et Catigo - I" is close to the status of masterpiece, as well as both of the previous albums by the band. The compositional skill of the primary mastermind behind the band - Max Hunt - still has the highest quality, as well as arranging and performance abilities of the band as a whole. Along with Xitizen Cain, The Morrigan, Elegant Simplicity, and IQ, to name but a few, Tantalus is undoubtedly one of the hallmarks of today's British Symphonic Progressive.
VM. October 7, 2001
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