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TRACK LIST: 1. Fall 2:37 2. Overture 2:32 3. Opaline 9:23 4. The Morning Dew 6:02 5. Castaways 5:32 6. The Inner Dragon 9:25 7. The Desert Gates 3:58 8. A Powerful Wand 3:42 9. Years 3:14 10. Lovestalgia 3:56 11. The Feast 1:56 12. Finale 8:29 All music: by Indelicato, except 4, 7, & 9: Indelicato / N Mourachko, & 11: N Mourachko. All lyrics: Sportouche. All arrangements: Silver Lining. LINE-UP: Thierry Sportouche - vocals Pascal Indelicato - keyboards Nicolas Mourachko - guitars Muchel Mourachko - basses Alain Descombe - drums Annie Morel - violins With: Serge Tziganov - bass (3, 4, & 6) Jimmy Oihid - vocalize (7) Produced by Silver Lining. Engineered by Indelicato.
Prolusion. "The Inner Dragon" is the debut album by the French band SILVER LINING, which is led by keyboardist Pascal Indelicato, guitarist Nicolas Mourachko, and vocalist Thierry Sportouche, the latter of whom is probably more known as the editor of the Acid Dragon magazine. According to the CD press kit, this is a concept album with Tolkien-like fantasy lyrics in English. Thierry is an old friend of mine, but this fact will in no way influence me to write something other than my true thoughts on the material.
Synopsis. Only two tracks on the album: Castaways and Lovestalgia (5 & 10) are real, full-fledged songs featuring large-scaled vocal-based arrangements and diverse vocal themes, sung by Thierry in the most excellent way I could've expect from him. Opaline and Years (3 & 9) can also be regarded as songs, but these contain very few vocals as such. Thierry's voice is deep and soulful, and his way of singing does not resemble anyone's. So I wonder why the other lyrics have been recited, especially since Thierry sings in English noticeably better than narrates (accent talk). Perhaps it was done in accordance with 'the law of the genre', and I've heard enough Tolkien-inspired works to remember some distinct features typical for most of them. In short, the presence of theatrical narrative on each of the tracks is the only comparable perspective of the album, while all the principal - compositional, performance, etc - aspects of it are completely original, like the vocals, and aren't liable to any direct comparisons. Keyboardist Pascal Indelicato seems to be a big lover of Classical music, as the album is abundant in the sounds of various string and chamber instruments, including piano. Another musician who is actively involved in the process of creating classically influenced arrangements is the violin player Annie Morel. Along with the guys behind the rhythms section, guitarist Nicolas Mourachko is responsible for the Rock constituent of the album's sound, and his masterful, often high-speed, solos take usually the lead out of the context of classically influenced arrangements. All in all, the textures typical for Classical music are almost as widely spread on the album as the others, and the style that most of the tracks are done in is an amazingly original and effectual combination of Neo Symphonic Art-Rock and light Classical music with and without elements of classic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. As for compositions that are musically different from the others and are notable for some specifications, here they are: Fall (1) is a Classical music-like piece representing a constantly developing interplay between passages of piano and solos of synthesizer. The parts of acoustic guitar and those of hand percussion instruments are usually at the forefront of the arrangements on The Desert Gates (7), which features a muezzin-like vocalize and is filled with flavors of Oriental music in general. The most part of Finale (11) is based on the classical guitar passages, often going to the accompaniment:-) of synthesizer effects.
Conclusion. The freshness of the sound of Silver Lining's debut is out of question. This is definitely the most original, and also the most diverse and interesting Neo Progressive-related album that I've heard in the new millennium. (This statement does not concern only Cast, which, unlike many others, I don't regard as Neo at all, and IQ, very well balancing between both of the genre's manifestations.) Heartily recommended to anyone save, perhaps, the purists of a highly complicated music.
VM: July 9, 2004
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