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(49:05, Ozeta Prod)
TRACK LIST: 1. Closer to My Soul 9:52 2. The Sagarmatha Dilemma 6:05 3. The Red Mountain 11:40 4. Thin Air 6:01 5. Even If I Was Wrong 5:06 6. Radio Sherpa 4:37 7. I’m Coming Down 5:21 LINEUP: D – lead & backing vocals; el. & ac. guitars; keyboards Mathieu Gosselin – bass, stick; backing vocals Jean Gosselin – drums Alissar – backing vocals Francis Boy – backing vocals With: Sandra Poulin – violin Francis Delisle – cello
Prolusion. A successor to “Shimmering Lights” from two years ago, “The Sagarmatha Dilemma” is the second release by THE D PROJECT, from Canada.
Analysis. Though not completely identical to its predecessor, of course, “The Sagarmatha Dilemma” has nevertheless so much in common with it that (probably for the first time in my activity of many years as a reviewer) I see no other way to begin this writing but by referring you, readers, to the review of the outfit’s debut recording, which is almost fully relevant as regards this one too, you may believe me. Just like “Shimmering Lights”, the hero of this occasion is also a collection of seven tracks whose overall sound is also a cross between balladic Space Rock which is rooted in Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon” and rough Hard Rock of a semi-conventional, semi-original appearance – still with no connection between the pieces’ length and their progressive saturation. When scratching my head trying to figure out what pushes these guys to follow so strictly their once chosen style and compositional approach alike, I found myself comparing their work to Sense’s. Indeed, the project should probably be regarded as a satellite of that quintet, since three of its five basic participants, Stephane “D” Desbiens, Mathieu Gosselin and Francis Boy, all play key roles there. But while the songwriting duties in the group are approximately equally shared between these musicians, it’s (definitely) D who heads the corresponding department in the project, having had a hand in composing and arranging six of the seven tracks present. Furthermore, in Sense his voice, say, only takes a back seat, while here, besides playing all guitars and keyboards, Stephane provides all lead and most backing vocals. In the end, although neither of his two primary partners remained indifferent to the creation either (Matthew composed I’m Coming Down, while Francis penned all lyrics), D takes the spotlight almost everywhere on the album. Of course, what has been said means that I find the band’s work to be more interesting than the project’s. However, it would be unfair to omit the fact that “The Sagarmatha Dilemma” shows some improvement compared to “Shimmering Lights”. To Desbiens’ credit, the quantity of his acoustic guitar leads in general and Flamenco-stylized ones in particular has grown, and since those have always been the main providers of the outfit’s identity, even such songs as Closer to My Soul, The Red Mountain and I’m Coming Down, all of which are heavily influenced by Pink Floyd, have their moments of clarity, so to speak. Besides, one of the instrumental interludes on each is a horse of a different color, finding Stephane sharing the lead with two guest violin players who impart a certain fusionesque sense to the movement, this time out the corresponding arrangements being performed completely accurately. The title track, Even If I Was Wrong and Thin Air all move back and forth between the already familiar musical landscapes with both D’s vocals and electric guitar playing still being consistently in the style of David Gilmour and unexpectedly up-tempo hard rock moves which, despite being proto-progressive in character at best, diversify the music for sure, revealing no obvious outside factors. Either way, the best track on the disc is in my honest opinion the shortest one, Radio Sherpa. The only vocals-free piece in the set, it still alternates the sections with softer and harder arrangements, but – safe for ‘radio voices’ – has no overt hints of Pink Floyd (which is explainable, as D only uses synthesizers and acoustic guitars as soloing instruments here), additionally standing out for some asynchronous drums and bass playing, though this feature belongs already to the department of Desbiens’ partners.
Conclusion. D needs to refrain from quoting his mentors and emphasize his own compositional voice to make his project really weightier than a second-rate outfit. Taking into consideration that this, his sophomore, release is somewhat better than the previous one, I should have probably given it a higher rating. However I didn’t, being impressed with “Coming Home”, the latest offering from Sense, the comparisons with which are inevitable in this particular case.
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