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Where Echoes End (Australia) - 1998 - "By the Pricking of My Thumb"
(72 min, "Beaks Ahoy")


****+

Line-up:

Eddie Katz - keyboards, bass, vocals,
             programming, sampling, sequencing
Paul Read  - keyboards, guitars, vocals,
             sampling, sequencing

(+ a few guest female singers)

If I understand right, "Beaks Ahoy" is a new label, owned by the creators of this album. I don't know why ex-members (masterminds!) of the excellent Prog Metal band Vauxdvihl decided to play a kind of music that is diametrically opposed to their early style. To be honest, I am not a big fan of spacey electronic music with all these samplings and sequencers. In my honest opinion, any computer music is just dead music, as any prepared samples are nothing but various (synthetic) musical themes that are closed within themselves. Earlier, I always considered any 'synthetic' album just a set of varied closed pieces - the fool circle, on the whole. And I really wasn't expecting that after several listenings to the debut album by these Australian guys that I would find it quite an interesting thing, I'd even say a wise work in some ways.

First of all, there is a lot of manual playing on the album - in each part (piece, composition) of this conceptual work, and both Eddie and Paul use their ability to play keyboards and guitars very well. After a few listenings to "By the Pricking of My Thumb" I've noticed almost all the 'born-in-the-computer' themes were used by the duo mainly to create an intensive hypnotic atmosphere, and it has been done by them successfully. Sometimes very monotonous yet (but, rather exactly because they're so monotonous) hypnotic themes support guitar and keyboards themes and solos very effectively, and it is obvious that such an unusual group of supporting themes, to the accompaniment of which the story is told, really help to create quite an innovative sound (and style) on this album.

The construction of this work is undoubtedly a new word in electronic progressive music in general. It was built in such a way that you cannot understand it at the first listening to the album. It is very difficult to draw a distinction between, first of all, narrations and vocals here, though later you will understand the creators of "By the Pricking of My Thumb" have invented a few very innovative styles of singing - and you can use the last phrase with respect to all genres and styles of Progressive Rock. Of course, this doesn't mean such vocal innovation will necessarily be made by other (new...) performers, but I am sure, it could/can be really possible if such an original - in many ways - work would be distributed and promoted properly. But, I guess it wasn't/still isn't... I did forget to ask the guys if they are happy with the distribution deal of "By the Pricking of My Thumb", but I am almost sure they aren't...

So, yes, I have a bit of a reputation 'being down on neo', but how many 'neo' works have been appreciated by me... I said I don't like any kind of electronic music, but this doesn't mean I can't see that some works of the genre really contain alot of interesting (and that's the main thing) innovative episodes (forms, structures). Yes, the only 'problem', why I can't feel pleasure listening to some neo or electronic music, is just because these works aren't bringing any refreshing moments. So, the only reason why I can't listen to some pseudo-progressive albums is that those albums are not original at all. And that's actually all.

Back to the "By the Pricking of My Thumb" album, I remember that any more or less significant Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock (to begin with 'Gibraltar') contains alot of materials dedicated to Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra (including all the offshot and solo projects of both these performers) and many other bands that were/are playing in the style(s) of spacey, psychedelic, electronic music, ie such styles have lots of fans/lovers. I've listened to many bands whose stylistics are the same or very close to the stylistics of Where Echoes End, and to conclude my 'current' material I am adding here that taking into consideration spacey/electronic music on the whole, the work by WEE is the most interesting I've listened to until now, though you may not believe me (then just buy and listen to the album I have just reviewed). Finally, you are quite observant readers (this is just a compliment in advance, as none of you have written me about the next:) to have noticed that my reviews are mostly about the music, whereas lyrics I describe not very often. It is because I honestly consider Music is the main thing of our Trinity of Arts we have with any musical CD (the music itself, lyrics-poetry, and painting-graphics-photography regarding the booklet).

VM. August 6, 2000


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