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(88:51; Bloodfish Music)
Back in 2006 Phideaux released the first album in a trilogy, ‘Great Leap’, and followed it up the next year with ‘Doomsday Afternoon’. There have been two studio albums since then, but now, seven years after ‘Snowtorch’ and 11 years on from part two, the trilogy comes to a close with ‘Infernal’. The artwork is also linked to the other two albums, in case the casual listener doesn’t realise. I have long been a fan of the project initially put together by Phideaux Xavier and Richard Hutchins (can it really be 15 years since ‘Fiendish’?), and many of the players in the band have stayed the course, although I did notice one new interesting name among the current band, namely Matthew Kennedy who of course is also bassist in the mighty Discipline, another of my favourite bands. This double CD set contains 19 songs, and lasts just under 90 minutes with only one lengthy number, the 14 minute long “From Hydrogen With Love”. This is all about music and songs as opposed to exercises in self-indulgence. With three different female lead singers also playing their part, as well as plenty of backing singers, it means that Phideaux has plenty of support and although he is an excellent singer in his own right, he passes much of the work over to others. Reminiscent at times of the gentler side of Pink Floyd, this is an album which lures in the listener and refuses to let them leave. Although in many ways the music is quite simplistic, there are plenty of instances when there is a complex nuance which adds finesse to what is already compelling music. Although the arrangements are often multi-layered, there are plenty of times when it all falls away to leave singers with just a piano or guitar for accompaniment. The piano is an incredibly important part of the structure, often underpinning what is taking place, while guitarist Gabriel Moffat knows exactly when to be restrained or when to come to the fore and provide some much-needed aggression. The music is often at the gentler end of the spectrum, with arrangements and production that allow the music to feel like a soft blanket keeping the listener warm, but it is never too sweet or one-dimensional. It is an album that I can play repeatedly without getting tired of it, and that isn’t often the case. There are times when it bounces along, others where it is more reflective, but always a delight. Yet another incredibly strong addition to his canon, let’s hope it isn’t so long for the next one.
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