[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(48 min, Woo)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Though 3:20 2. For the Floors 4:04 3. New Sound Made 3:52 4. Unsolved 5:53 5. Deep It Is 3:48 6. John Doe 3:58 7. What If 4:56 8. Options 2:56 9. Birdnest Day 3:51 10. Dolores 8:42 11. JCDC 2:33 All music: by The Curtain. All lyrics: by Juhlin & Olsson. Produced by The Curtain. LINEUP: Daniel Carlsson - guitars Johan Carlsson - drums Oscar Olsson - bass Stefan Juhlin - vocals Jan Martensson - percussions With Joakim Simonsson - keyboards Tobias Anderson - drums Srefan Wistrand - sax & bass clarinet
Prolusion. The history of Swedish band THE CURTAIN counts eight years. They started in 1997 as a trio influenced by King Crimson, Primus, Peter Gabriel and Bjork, but later, when the lineup increased to five members, they set themselves a task to create something extraordinary. "New Sound Made" is the debut CD by The Curtain. You see it's titled very ambitiously, if not too boldly.
Analysis. Having continued to familiarize myself with the CD press kit, I noted that many Swedish critics call The Curtain's style "New Rock" and "Riff Rock with a high IQ". The latter definition fully corresponds to the actual state of affairs only in the case of the first track. The former is too generalized to be correct and, hence, is not applicable. First, this isn't Rock as such, but is Progressive Rock, in a general sense. Second, the music is free of cliches and distinctly stereotypical features, but I wouldn't say The Curtain has discovered a really new direction. The path they go lies far from busy musical roads, but it has been paved before them. The tried ear will undoubtedly recognize the echoes of Voivod, who were the first to combine Prog-Metal with 'cosmic battles', and those of the modern Space Rock stalwarts, Porcupine Tree. At the same time, I would be deaf not to notice the huge quantity of innovative decisions here. Ideas are in the air. Space music related progressive styles (Space-Rock, -Metal & -Fusion) are highly flexible entities. The number of their manifestations is countless; they may reveal themselves subtly and unexpectedly, and some of their providers may not even know of that. In short, the cosmology, in its informational (here musical) form, is one of the key aspects of The Curtain's creation, more often explicit than latent. The opening song, The Though, is the one with a neat structure of guitar riffs. Both accessible and highly mesmerizing, this is a clever combination of intensive Doom Metal and atmospheric Space Rock and is an apt introduction to the world 'lying behind' The Curtain. For the Floors follows and displays a similar approach (the music is somewhat more eclectic when the band goes heavy and in the instrumental sections), but the riff structure is less strongly pronounced and, simultaneously, is a bit more intricate. These tendencies will continue. The alternation of intense and quiet arrangements with the mysterious overall atmosphere is typical for nearly all of the songs, but the border between the sections with harsh and softer textures is getting more and more indefinite while the album unfolds. With the exception of Nu Metal-infected Deep It Is (the only song with completely fixed arrangements), each of the further tracks is more intriguing than its predecessor. The title track, taking the third position, is an enigma, especially upon the first spin. The instrumental arrangements are diverse and eclectic throughout (I mean, those developing alongside the vocals too). Unsolved is notable for the fast virtuosi solo of acoustic guitar, crossing the length and breadth of the basic themes, and the long instrumental section at the end, the structure of which has been gradually destroyed by 'alien forces', in the best traditions of the battle Space genre. The level of progressiveness of the music grows slowly, but steadily, reaching its peak on the atypically long next to last track, Dolores, on which the musical vector has been changed. Featuring the remarkable performance of a guest sax and bass clarinet player, this composition is like a window to the depth of the universe, and even the experienced listener will be lost in the labyrinth of these queer, highly angular dimensions where Avant-garde Jazz meets the trinity of Space-Rock, -Fusion and -Metal to shatter it with the further transformation into Fifth Element. It's more unique and adventurous than probably anything by the aforementioned groups. The short last track JCDC (the only instrumental here), was probably supposed to be the place for rest, but the sounds the guys elicit from their instruments here are too eclectic to be relaxing. The vocals match very well with the music, whether they're reflective or agitated, which depends on the current situation of this mesmerizing cosmic saga. I chose not to distinguish any of the band members in this review, as all are excellent musicians, who contributed equally to the material. See the lineup above for their names.
Conclusion. If I were in the band's shoes, I would have not included Deep It Is in the CD. Nevertheless, proceeding from my personal audio store of knowledge, I found The Curtain one of the very best Prog-Metal-related bands that came out from Sweden in the new millennium. Enough said.
VM: May 20, 2005
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]