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(48 min, 'Zeta')
TRACK LIST: 1. Shimmering Lights 8:53 2. They Come & Grow 6:23 3. Hide From the Sun 8:00 4. What is Done is Done 3:32 5. End of the Recess 3:55 6. September Solitudes 10:08 7. That's Life 7:40 LINEUP: Stephane Desbiens - vocals; ac. & el guitars; keyboards Mathieu Gosselin - basses Danny Robertson - drums Sandra Foulin - violin Alyssar - backing vocals With: Tommy Bodin - Mellotron & Rhodes (3, 6)
Prolusion. Yet another outfit from Quebec! "Shimmering Lights" is the first CD by The D Project led by multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Stephane Desbiens. According to the artist, he also takes on the duties of a lead guitarist in the Canadian band Sense.
Analysis. I appreciate any kinds of genuinely creative Progressive, but first of all I am a lover of profound music, being pluralistically:-) a hater of heavily derivative stuff. So taking a narrow view of "Shimmering Lights", I find this 48-minute album to be a mixed bag where original and, at the same time (surprisingly), interesting pieces adjoin infected ones, most of the latter being generally quite mediocre. Unfortunately the longest tracks, Shimmering Lights (8:53) and September Solitudes (10:08), are both from the latter category. The title number begins with atmospheric keyboards and fluid guitars, but soon finds a full-band sound which I can't define otherwise than pseudo Jazz-Fusion. The same awkward guitar riff, that lies in the basis of the group's joint movement here, will be repeated over and over again until the music gets a more melodic outline. Something really noteworthy awaits the listener only in the tune's finale where Stephane additionally provides an elegant Flamenco-stylized acoustic guitar solo. There is a strong organ- and acoustic guitar-laden instrumental interlude in the middle of September Solitudes, but most of this artificially overextended 'epic' represents nothing more than an Art-Rock-like ballad with a lot of returns to a previously played theme. While only Stephane's vocals and some of his solos on electric guitar arouse associations with Pink Floyd on both the said songs, They Come & Grow sounds like a cocktail of a few average tracks from "The Wall", its central guitar riff being just moulded upon the one from Another Brick. From rapid, thrashy Hard Rock through the Pink Floyd-like landscapes to Swing of the first water with (once again) an excellent acoustic solo in the Spanish style just before the coda - that's what That's Life is about overall. Taking into account the music as such, this would be one of the most diverse and progressively remarkable tracks on the disc, but what a strange trick! With a maniacal-like persistency, Stephane cries out the song's title throughout the long instrumental section, thus heavily disfiguring all that he'd laid down there as a composer. In all, Hide From the Sun turns out to be the only one among the longer tracks that I like in its entirety. Although the Pink Floyd influence reveals itself from time to time here too, it naturally blends with this tune's fundamental structures whose originality in turn is beyond question. The composition often changes its outline, now steering towards heavy Blues, now touching Symphonic Progressive, now finding an almost chamber sound. Especially impressive is the tune's last third where the music transforms into what I understand as genuinely progressive Hard Rock, which in turn is the style of What is Done is Done - a short yet impressive piece with resourceful keyboards and some refined bluesy guitar solos in its middle section. The only instrumental, End Of The Recess, is also one of the best tracks here, although it features only Stephane playing acoustic guitar and synthesizer, occasionally adding vocalizations.
Conclusion. Overall, "Shimmering Lights" is a decent debut release, but this doesn't mean automatically that I feel satisfied about it. The point is that the album meanders its way from beginning to end. I would not recommend it to someone looking for profound music, but more to those with progressive Hard Rock and related leanings.
VM: December 21, 2006
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