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Toxenaris - 2020 - "The Third Policeman"

(49:30; Toxenaris)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Golden Hours 3:32
2. The Iron Pump and Spade 4:27
3. Divney and I 2:29
4. Nameless 9:13
5. A Power for the Hills 2:12
6. Inspector O'Corky 4:28
7. Change for Tinahely and Shillelagh 1:43
8. On the Lever 3:58
9. Le Savant 2:44
10. The Codex and the Scaffold 4:21
11. Fox 5:43
12. Happy Return 4:40


Timo Aspelmeier - all instruments
Nico Walser - guitars, programming
Alwin Aspelmeier - sounds
Martin Kiemes - cello
David Marlow - piano

Prolusion. German project TOXENARIS have apparently been a creative unit ever since the 1990's, with composer and musician being the heart and soul of this venture. Toxenaris released the first album "The Third Policeman" back in 2016, a production that since then appears to have been pulled from the market. The album "Apoptosis" and the compilation "News From the Bottom of the Barrel" have appeared after this, and then as this project's first and fourth album chronologically speaking, a reworked and remastered version of the album "The Third Policeman" was officially released in the summer of 2020 as the most recent Toxenaris album to date.

Analysis. Toxenaris is one of those projects that just doesn't appear to fit into any of the more common niches we tend to like using when writing about music in general. The heart and the home of the music of this album is undeniably progressive rock, but of a type and variety that cannot be pinpointed more accurately than that - other than being instrumental. Hence instrumental progressive rock is a description to use, and one can easily add the word eclectic to that I think. A core aspect of this album is that it is predominantly electronic. Layers of keyboards, synthesizers, sounds and effects can be found just about everywhere throughout. The passages and arrangements they are used in have a great deal of variety to them however, so while this is a defining trait of the album this doesn't mean that this is a progressive electronic creation. There are parts here and there that stray safely within this universe though, with softer ambient sequences as well as more tight and sometimes expressive material reminiscent of Tangerine Dream as well as Berlin School oriented artists. But these tend to be a part of a greater totality rather than standalone examples of this type of music. The most important additional element by far is the inclusion of jazz-oriented elements. Primarily provided by the bass guitar, but the drums and percussion will also occasionally emphasize this aspect of the music, alongside the piano and on rare occasions the electric guitar. Another important aspect of these compositions are transitions and passages that take on a more distinct progressive rock approach, toning down the electronic elements ever so slightly while emphasizing the rock aspects of the music accordingly. In addition, some of the key aspects of the arrangements and sometimes of the performances too are made with a serious nod in the direction of classical music. Additional traits of note is the use of arrangements that have more of a playful and whimsical mood to them alongside sections with more of an expressive and at times free form jazz touch to them, and as a variation of the latter we are also served with quite a few instances of more avant touches applied too. Contrasting these elements are, of course, sections with more of a sparse, toned down approach focusing on arrangements and performances celebrating the beauty of the simplistic. "The Third Policeman" is something of a conundrum in many ways. The music is easy to listen to, but is also at times harshly challenging. You can enjoy the music while listening with half an ear, but the music itself demands an almost total immersion if you really want to get what is going on. A production filled with as many contrasts as I presume one might find in the material that inspired the creation of this album: The novel "The Third Policeman" by author Brian O'Nolan.

Conclusion. This second version of Toxenaris album "The Third Policeman" is a production that should appeal to those who are looking for something different to listen to. The kind of person that thinks expressive, avant elements in ambient music is just as interesting to listen to as score like music made on a Berlin School type foundation and don't mind the occasional lapses into a more nondescript variety of instrumental progressive rock along the way strikes me as the perfect listener for this specific album.

Progmessor: September 2020
The Rating Room

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