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Track List: 1. Stand 4:29 2. Hold on 6:25 3. Funkernickel 6:28 4. Empty 5:20 5. Poetica 3:12 6. Larry's Lullaby Prelude 2:28 7. Spoolanoosh 3:04 8. Larry's Lullaby 3:14 9. Mocha Butterfly 5:47 10. Love Soldier 3:59 11. Cathedral 8:10 12. Heart to Weep 4:07 All tracks: by Cushma, D' Angelo, & Alexander, except: 6: by Cushma, D' Angelo, Alexander, & Hornaday. Line-up: Linda Cusma - MIDI Chapman Stick Frank D' Angelo - MIDI Klein electric guitar Tim Alexander - drums & percussion With: Jim Hornaday - acoustic guitar (on 6) Produced by A. Kern. Engineered by J. Hornaday at Dream Catcher Recordings. Mastered by (King's X's) T. Tabor at Alien Been St.
Preamble. The debut album by the US band Oxygene 8, "Poetica", is dedicated to the memory of Linda's beloved brother Larry.
The Album. There are the twelve tracks on "Poetica", six of which are songs and six instrumental compositions. Although I heard a few albums by the US band Primus ("Pork Soda", etc) I am not sure whether Primus's Tim Alexander and the drummer on this album is the same person. Nevertheless, the album's opening song, Stand, reminds me of Primus - both vocally and instrumentally. Which is despite the fact that the first violin in the music of Primus plays a bass, and not electric guitar, and there are only male vocals in it. The light traces of influences of King Crimson (circa "Three of a Perfect Pair") are present on the instrumental piece: Mocha Butterfly (9), the music of which represents a guitar-based Art-Rock. Fortunately, Mocha Butterfly and the aforementioned Stand, which is about a progressive Hard Rock, are the only 'comparable' tracks on the album. All ten of the other tracks on "Poetica" are just unique and by all means. Furthermore, six of them (i.e. precisely half of the tracks on the album) consist exclusively of highly innovative arrangements and are just filled with magic. And what is more, three of them: Poetica, Larry's Lullaby Prelude, and Spoolanoosh (5, 6, & 7), all of which are instrumental pieces and were performed without drums, feature such a fantastically original music that is beyond your imagination (honest!). Apart from the synthesizer- and the flute-like solos sounding very realistic, Poetica and Spoolanoosh feature a few of the other solos, passages, and sounds, all of which are of a fantastical character and are just indescribable - like something of a clearly unearthly origin. An atmosphere that both of these composition are filled with, is tense and, often, eerie. (It's magnetically eerie, to be precise. So I wouldn't recommend those whose nervous system is unstable to listen to this album in headphones.) A real new music that is presented on Poetica and Spoolanoosh, as well as on Larry's Lullaby Prelude, is certainly nothing else but Fifth Element. Larry Lullaby is of a very touching, dramatic character. Along with the amazing passages of acoustic guitar and the brilliant solos of Stick (that though, are here changed beyond recognition), this piece presents the magical passages of 'violin' and those of 'synthesizer' and 'a string ensemble'. On these three compositions, Linda and Frank used the possibilities of midi instruments the most wonderful way I've ever heard. Two more instrumentals: Funkernickel and Larry's Lullaby (3 & 8), and also the song: Empty (4), which however, consists mostly of purely instrumental arrangements, are about a blend of a pure Fifth Element / New Music and a unique guitar- and Stick-based Art-Rock with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. Another track that was also performed without any percussion instruments is the beautiful Art-Rock ballad Heart to Weep (12). There are the soft parts of percussion instruments on Larry's Lullaby, while both of Funkernickel and Empty, as well as all three of the remaining tracks, all of which are songs, were performed with drums. Even though the details of any of the remaining three songs: Hold on, Love Soldier, Cathedral, and (2, 10, 11, & 12) are painted with well-known colors and shades typical for both of Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, the overall musical palette of each of them is unique.
Summary. The mastery displayed by each of the band members is outstanding. Linda is one of the best Stick players I've ever heard, and her vocals are both very bright and original. As for "Poetica" as a whole, this is a brilliant album that, moreover, just breathes with an amazing and, sometimes, simply incredible originality. Dear readers please don't deprive yourselves of a great pleasure that "Poetica" will undoubtedly bring to you. Try to get this CD at any rate - at least ask your friends to record the CD-R copy of it for you. Play it loud and with the lights off.
VM: March 10, 2003
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