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TRACK LIST: 1. Fallen Angels 3:20 2. Children of Fire 13:21 3. Shades 4:22 4. Falling From Sephiroth 15:31 5. Rivers of Twilight 7:38 6. Inner Silence 2:38 7. Wandering In Darkness 10:22 8. Sleeping In Penumbra 10:02 9. Eternity 3:29 All music: by Bell & Cyrus. All lyrics: by Cyrus. LINE-UP: Cyrus - basses; lead vocals Stuart Bell - keyboards; drums Phil Allen - electric & acoustic guitars; backing vocals Produced: by Xitizen Cain & N. McNaught. Engineered & mastered: by N. McNaught at Split Level st. Artwork: by Cyrus.
Preamble. Well, the long-awaited new album by Xitizen Cain, "Playing Dead", which was released in the fall of 2002, is finally on my table. I reviewed all four of the band's previous albums at the very beginning of my 'progressive' activity on the WWW, which I did after I realized that the creation of Xitizen Cain is highly underrated. (And XC is one of only a few of the contemporary Art-Rock bands the music of which I really love.) If you wish to read these reviews, click > here, > here, > here, and > here. Finally, please don't be surprised that I continue calling the band Xitizen Cain, and not Citizen Cain: just read the > interview that Stuart and Cyrus recently gave me.
The Album. As well as all of the previous Xitizen Cain albums, "Playing Dead" represents the trinity of arts that, IMHO, are the most important: music, literature, and painting (as always, there is Cyrus' artwork in the CD booklet, of course!). This is a highly sophisticated album - both musically and lyrically. Although the lyrical conception of "Playing Dead" is close to my Weltanschauung (indeed, A.L.I.V.E. is also an epitaph) and looks as logical as everything of a truly mystic origin, all of it is just another step on the endless road towards the perception of the world that we sleep in. As for music, even though there is almost nothing in the instrumental arrangements on the album that would remind me of classic Genesis, some comparisons with the most influential Art-Rock band of all time are still inevitable here. Which, above all, is due to the fact that the timbre of Cyrus' voice is naturally not unlike that of Peter Gabriel. (Which, in its turn, is terrific, in my view.) Overall however, the new music by Xitizen Cain is much more original, adventurous, and intricate than that on any other of their albums. Here is a brief overview of the compositional-performance characteristics of "Playing Dead". The eclectic arrangements are filled with highly virtuosi solos of all of the instruments used on the album, diverse and, often, contrasting interplay between them, intricate stop-to-play movements done exclusively with the use of complex time signatures, frequent changes of tempo and mood, etc, again, and over. "Playing Dead" features nine tracks, one of which - the opening track of the album - is an instrumental piece. An introduction to the album sounds quite unexpected, to say the least. Prog-Metal with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock rather than vice versa is what the music on it is about, though it's by no means 'your' typical Prog-Metal. The same stylistic atmosphere prevails on the song: Inner Silence (6). The contents of all five of the long songs here (tracks 2, 4, 5, 7, & 8) are structurally uniform as well. Overall, all of them are about a classic, yet, highly original Symphonic Art-Rock, in the structures of which, though, the quantity of heavy elements is quite large. Both of the remaining songs: Shades and Eternity (3 & 9) are completely out of the predominant stylistics of the album. The music on the first of them represents a pure Symphonic Art-Rock, while the latter, the instrumental arrangements of which consist of diverse interplay between passages of piano and those of a string ensemble, including the violoncello-like ones, is about Classical Music with vocals. Also, it must be said that the solos and riffs of electric guitar play a very significant role on this album and are often at the forefront of arrangements. Even though it was Stuart Bell who composed most of the guitar parts for this album, Phil Allen's style of guitar playing is itself original and fits the new music of the band just excellently. The parts of electric guitar are present almost everywhere on "Playing Dead" (the only exception being the closing song of the album), and passages and solos of acoustic guitar on about a half of the tracks here. Those of the latter of them that are interwoven with basic arrangements are especially impressive. Stuart Bell looks as a very masterful drummer on this album. As for Bell's key duties, his solos on keyboards are here both highly original and virtuosi, which is a very rare case today - at least within the framework of Symphonic Progressive. In fact, Eddie Jobson was the last keyboard player, with the work of whom - on UK's "Danger Money" - I am as much impressed as with that of Stuart on "Playing Dead". As always, it is absolutely pointless to compare Cyrus' brilliant style of playing a bass guitar to anyone's, and his 'comparable' vocals are so veracious and charming that I don't remember those of anyone while hearing them.
Summary. What's central is that this album (as well as "Raising the Stones", though) is just filled with that marvelous magic which makes a musical work listenable forever. What do I mean saying so? Having remembered the masterworks of the genre released in the halcyon days of Progressive's glory, you'll hit the mark.
VM: April 7, 2003
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