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Musaphonic - 2012 - "Billiken Dance"

(73:47, Musaphonic)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. The Developmentally Arrested Thespians' Midlife Crisis 1:14
2. Billiken Dance 3:43
3. Bilateral Symmetry 5:32
4. Idiorhythmia 7:30
5. The Ambit 3:04
6. Tangaloa 18:02
7. Wondjina 10:13
8. Kaboobie 4:09
9. Zygos 4:45
10. Auspicion 3:47
11. The Bloop 4:10
12. Peripeteia 7:38


Tony Arnold - all instruments

Prolusion. US project MUSAPHONIC is one of the creative vehicles of composer and musician Tony Arnold, a productive artist with almost three dozen albums on his CV so far, the greater majority released under the monikers Musaphonic and Gray Mortuary. "Billken Dance" dates back to 2012.

Analysis. While this album originally saw the light of day in 2012, the CD I have been sent is a remastered version that was issued in 2015. Judging from my less than impressive first encounter with Tony Arnold's music, that remastering will have been needed, as the earlier compilation album I was sent with his music suffered from a rather less than perfect mix and production. Thankfully this isn't an aspect on this album, and while this is far removed from the Steven Wilson's of this world, the sound is clear, the balance good and the mix and production is at the level one would expect in this day and age. The music itself is a curious mix and blend of numerous ideas and orientations. From tender, almost bossa nova acoustic serenades to dark, haunting and brooding creations not too far removed from progressive metal in general scope, although lacking that true and purebred metal bit I might add. There are flightier, keyboards driven affairs that isn't too far removed from the music of Vangelis, other creations have a harder and firmer orientation that comes closer to the likes of Tangerine Dream in sound. For some of the latter ones the guitars are used to create a beefier, heavier sound than the German pioneers ever created, but the similarities in melody lines and movements are still present. Other escapades have more of a cosmic bent to them, and there's even a cut I noted down as being mainly ambient industrial. That we find a majestic, guitars and organ driven affair with a sacral, Christmas mood like midsection with bells and organs joined in a jubilant fanfare is kind of fitting for this album, as the moods, orientations and approaches are as diverse as they are, this is one of those albums one might describe as containing everything and probably a kitchen sink or two as well. The material is accessible though, and the material as such isn't all that challenging. To create distinct moods and atmospheres appears to be the main goal, and whatever stylistic fluctuation to be used appears to mainly be a function to achieve a goal in that context rather than being an example of having a go at any specified subsection of progressive rock as such. The use of the trusty drum machine is something of a drawback throughout, and connoisseurs may well find some of the instrument sounds and choices to be slightly underwhelming too. This isn't a high fidelity creation made following the cues of a super producer, but rather what I regard as the accomplishments of a creative and productive enthusiast more than anything else.

Conclusion. Those fond of an honest, workmanship approach to the art of creating atmospheric laden, mood intensive instrumental progressive rock covering multiple genres and orientations should feel right at home with this CD by Tony Arnold's Musaphonic. A production that comes with a few lo-fidelity flaws, the major one being the drum machine, but that otherwise should be of interest to those whose tastes in the genre covers multiple bases ranging from ambient cosmic creations to organ driven affairs with more of a vintage era heavy prog approach.

Progmessor: October 24th 2017
The Rating Room

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