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(54:21 / Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Eleven 5:31 2. Back Home 6:16 3. Tungsten Blues 4:52 4. Can You Hear Me? 7:27 5. Fingerprints 1:42 6. Digital Sunrise 5:47 7. Cold Light of Day 3:19 8. Falling 3:29 9. Part V 3:57 10. Coming Around 5:36 11. Fingerprints Reprise 6:23 LINEUP: Nick Storr - vocals; keyboards; guitars Andrew Curtis - lead guitars; b/v Cornel Ianculovici - bass; b/v Andrew Knott - drums; b/v
Prolusion. By your permission, I'll begin with a Russian anecdote. A teacher asked a first-former: "What do you know about Australia?" The boy's answer was: "This is a country where there are many kangaroos and where people walk upside down". Joking apart, THE THIRD ENDING hails from the island of Tasmania, the most southern region of Australia, located not far from the southeast coast of that world's only country-continent. It happens very rarely that a band releases their eponymous album not from the outset, but sometime much later - such as Genesis did in 1983, for instance. The recording under review is not such a case and is The Third Ending's debut outing.
Analysis. Having passed classic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal through the prism of mainstream Rock, The Third Ending achieve a logical, kind of seamless derivative of all the three styles, besides which these young musical alchemists have managed to impart a pronounced peculiarity to their sound - something we not too often meet nowadays. It's just because I wanted to give you, readers, at least some general idea of what you can expect from this recording I've burned with the desire:-) to find at least any indirect influences in this music and, well, have attained some success in that field. Some echoes of Porcupine Tree and Radiohead can be heard within the softer, ballad-like arrangements. When the band goes heavy, the music resembles a cross between Tool and Queensryche, whilst the names of Spock's Beard and Sieges Even (think "A Sense of Change") come to mind when the guys take so to say the most thoughtful approach. When listening to the concluding track, Fingerprints Reprise, I was also reminded of Marillion. However, really obvious signs of outside factors I've only found in the electric guitar solos, as some of these are clearly in the style of David Gilmour, the corresponding moves being reminiscent of Pink Floyd for sure. All four musicians are quite accomplished players, but it is singer / keyboardist / 'acoustic' guitarist Nick Storr and 'electric' guitarist Andrew Curtis who are the primary soloing forces here. Whether Andrew sticks to a heavily distorted tone or goes for a cleaner soft sound, his performance is always impressive, but nevertheless Nick's acoustic guitar patterns appear to be more expressive overall - perhaps because these rarely have a conventional feeling, though the same words are also relevant regarding the man's keyboard work and his singing as well. Cornel Ianculovici from time to time uses his bass as an alternative lead voice, whilst Andrew Knott, while being in all senses a competent drummer, very rarely comes to the fore, being usually occupied with providing a firm bottom line for his partners' maneuvers. The music now drives, now eases, and although never complex, it is full of contrasts in pace and texture alike, combining three different genres into a unique fusion. With the exception of the shortest cut, Fingerprints, where there are only acoustic guitar and vocals, the interchange of dense, harder arrangements and softer, atmospheric ones is typical of all eleven of the songs present (no instrumentals here), although purely acoustic interludes are only an important part of four tracks, namely Eleven, Back Home, Coming Around and Can You Hear Me, otherwise appearing just episodically. The former is one of the most diversely evolving tracks, featuring some tasty organ and guitar leads, plus revealing a wonderful interplay between acoustic guitar and organ as its curtain falls. Unlike Eleven, the latter three are never fast, but these are genuinely complicated ballads with rather long and, at once, variegated instrumental sections, all additionally standing out for their acoustic guitar solos that are resourcefully interwoven with basic fabrics, at times also incorporating the sounds of Mellotron. By the way, be it a ballad or not, but Can You Hear Me is one of my favorite tunes on this disc. Tracks 6 to 11 all fluidly flow from one into another, each appearing as a logical continuation of its predecessor. Made up exclusively of electric arrangements, the only vocal-free piece, Tungsten Blues, is an excellent Prog-Metal-related composition (no matter what its title suggests) and is the absolute winner to my taste, though Digital Sunrise and Fingerprints Reprise, both of which have much in common with the instrumental, are just a bit inferior to it. The remaining three tracks, Cold Light of Day, Falling and Part V, sound like parts of the same compositions, all having similar landscapes with dark keyboards and somewhat sinister vocals.
Conclusion. There are a few moments that seem to be somewhat underdeveloped, but to its credit, this debut recording by The Third Ending is, overall, mature and well crafted. What makes it especially attractive in my eyes is that the music is free of any cliches and standard phrasings, and I highly appreciate originality - in any kind of art, but especially in music (perhaps just because music is my favorite art). All in all, this CD can probably be recommended to all but jazz fans, avant-garde prog lovers and purists of intricate sound of any genre origin.
VM: May 22, 2007
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