Dueños de un estilo inconfundible y creadores de algunos de los discos más hermosos que se hayan compuesto en su década, los invito a conocer al particular rock-folk sinfónico, música extremadamente dulce, emotiva, compleja y bien compuesta e interpretada. Bienvenidos al universo de Phideaux, les aseguro que no sólo no se van a arrepentir de conocerlos, sino que nos van a agradecer haberlo compartido.
Álbum: Number Seven
Género: Rock sinfónico
Género: Rock sinfónico
Lista de Temas:
ONE: DORMOUSE ENSNARED
1. Dormouse - A Theme
2. Waiting For The Axe To Fall
3. Hive Mind
4. The Claws Of A Crayfish
5. My Sleeping Slave
TWO: DORMOUSE ESCAPES
6. Darkness At Noon
8. Gift Of The Flame
9. Interview With A Dormouse
10. Thermonuclear Cheese
11. The Search For Terrestrial Life
12. A Fistful Of Fortitude
THREE: DORMOUSE ENLIGHTENED
13. Love Theme From "Number Seven"
14. Storia Senti
15. Infinite Supply
16. Dormouse - An End
ONE: DORMOUSE ENSNARED
1. Dormouse - A Theme
2. Waiting For The Axe To Fall
3. Hive Mind
4. The Claws Of A Crayfish
5. My Sleeping Slave
TWO: DORMOUSE ESCAPES
6. Darkness At Noon
8. Gift Of The Flame
9. Interview With A Dormouse
10. Thermonuclear Cheese
11. The Search For Terrestrial Life
12. A Fistful Of Fortitude
THREE: DORMOUSE ENLIGHTENED
13. Love Theme From "Number Seven"
14. Storia Senti
15. Infinite Supply
16. Dormouse - An End
- Phideaux Xavier / piano, acoustic guitar, electric 12 string, vocal
- Rich Hutchins / drums, chant
- Ariel Farber / vocals, violin
- Valerie Gracious / vocals
- Mathew Kennedy / electric bass, chant
- Gabriel Moffat / lap steel guitar, solo & electric guitar
- Linda Ruttan Moldawsky / vocals
- Molly Ruttan / vocals, percussion
- Mark Sherkus / keyboards, electric guitar
- Johnny Unicorn / keyboards, saxophone, vocals, chant
- Phideaux Xavier / piano, acoustic guitar, electric 12 string, vocal
- Rich Hutchins / drums, chant
- Ariel Farber / vocals, violin
- Valerie Gracious / vocals
- Mathew Kennedy / electric bass, chant
- Gabriel Moffat / lap steel guitar, solo & electric guitar
- Linda Ruttan Moldawsky / vocals
- Molly Ruttan / vocals, percussion
- Mark Sherkus / keyboards, electric guitar
- Johnny Unicorn / keyboards, saxophone, vocals, chant
Otro discazo por parte del multinstrumentista y compositor neoyorquino Phideaux Xavier, un trabajo conceptual en la línea de su anterior y maravilloso "Doomsday Afternoon" y que completa una trilogía de lírica ecológica (perdón la desprolijidad de no empezar con el primer disco de la saga, pero este es el que tenía a mano...), en un disco lleno de matices (como todos sus discos, y debo recordar de traerlos y compartirlos en el blog porque valen muchísimo la pena). Un disco repleto de pequeños detalles para descubrir en cada escucha, de momentos instrumentales que te van sorprendiendo.
Cuando escucho música, y deja de ser un fondo de lo que acontece, y pasa a primer plano casi no importando lo demás, me siento sencillamente feliz. Mientras escucho Number 7 de Phideaux, se me dibuja una sonrisa. Esto es progresivo. Estos son los discos por los que vale la pena ser un apartado de la masa.Astrapé Núctes
Me importa poco si dicen que la voz de Xavier Phideaux no es la mejor. Pero la música de la obra en tres partes, no tiene peros. La instrumentación me conduce por sinuosas veredas boscosas, donde los claros dejan ver armónicamente siluetas de más follaje moviéndose. Paisajes llenos de niebla donde la lluvia cae fuerte para danzar bajo ella. Tormentas pasando rápidamente mientras la embriaguez termina por hacer su efecto.
Luego de su exitoso Doomsday Afternoon , Phideaux vuelve y no defrauda las altas expectativas y nos dan otro clásico, para el rock progresivo o como ellos se llaman “la ola oscura de la música progresiva”. A conseguirlo.
Xavier Phideaux es un talentoso músico multiinstrumentista y compositor estadounidense, que reunió alrededor a una serie de músicos en un ensamble electro acústico, y le brindó su apellido al grupo que lleva adelante sus composiciones y que él lidera. Para quienes aún no lo conozcan, que imagino son varios, el grupo se sumerge en un rock sinfónico de tintes particulares, con piezas instrumentales de suma belleza, impregnadas de música clásica y mucho folk, en otros temas predominan los instrumentos acústicos. La formación del grupo es bastante numerosa e incluso han contado, además de la propia banda que ya es bastante decir, con la colaboración de gente consagrada en los terrenos progresivos, como pueden ser Martin Orford o Arjen Lucassen que ayudan a redondear sus secciones barrocas orquestales compuesto por violines, violas, flautas, trompetas, oboes, clarinetes, cellos... y todo instrumento que parezca necesario según la ocasión. Guitarras acústicas, secciones de viento, violín, órganos, juegan alrededor de melodías vocales brillantes muy pegadizas y emocionales (aunque la voz de Xavier no sea una maravilla, pero es apoyado convenientemente por su coro femenino). El disco está compuesto por complejas piezas bellísimas, que conforman una música de alta factura. Dan ganas de ponerse a aplaudir de principio a fin.
Un discazo demasiado agradable para dejar pasar, estuve leyendo críticas y en realidad no habia ninguna crítica negativa lo que me pareció justo, tomando en cuenta un disco hecho con un gusto exquisito e influencias de Pink Floyd, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull entre muchas otras, donde además resalta la habilidad individual en cada instrumento sin llegar a la exuberancia. La filosofía del grupo, “buscamos hacer música misteriosa y melódica por el puro amor a ello. Sacamos álbumes y podemos conocer otros músicos que les gusta la música que te hace pensar, y relacionarte con amigos, seguidores y colegas”, definitivamente un Art Rock salido del corazón. Bon Voyage!MuZaKLoK
Un disco aconsejable para decirle que escuchen aquellos amantes del progresivos que se quedaron únicamente en los 70s, como para decirle: "mirá alguna de las tantas cosas no solamente buenas sino excelentes que se cocinan hoy en día", y no porque su música no tenga un dejo de los años dorados (hay secciones que parecen claros guiños a Van Der Graaf Generator y no falta no solamente claros cortes del progresivo italiano, sino que en un momento hasta cantan en italiano) sino porque lo que buscan crear es algo que no esté basado en las antiguas glorias, porque básicamente van buscando su propio sonido y estilo. Aquí con un disco que fue aclamado unánimamente como uno de los mejores trabajos que se han lanzado en el año 2009.
En 2007 quedé en verdad muy complacido con el álbum seis de PHIDEAUX, aquél buen progresivo "Doomsday Afternoon". Y no fue bueno sólo para mí, sino también para el equipo ProgAwards que en ese entonces conformábamos los jueces, y en general para la crítica especializada en rock progresivo. No por nada el álbum recibió tantas menciones y reconocimientos alrededor del mundo entero. Hoy (7 Julio, 2009) que recibí el "Number Seven" «Número Siete», una sonrisa exagerada delató mi entusiasmo por tener entre mis manos una nueva realización de un músico que siempre me ha dejado buen sabor de boca, y aún no veo la hora de escucharlo con tranquilidad, de delicarle mi atención sin distracciones… por lo pronto leo los créditos del álbum, y agradezco enormemente la mención que se nos hace a mí y a Manticornio en los agradecimientos. Gracias Phideaux. Muchas gracias.Alfredo Tapia Carreto
Pero vámonos un poco a los antecedentes de esta nueva producción. De acuerdo a lo que ponen es su página, “el solsticio de verano 2009 vio la realización del nuevo álbum de PHIDEAUX, el "Number Seven". Este álbum es una continuación de las composiciones largas encontradas en "Doomsday Afternoon" y "Chupacabras", y representa otra incursión en el rock progresivo, tal vez con tintes de jazz de cámara y rock clásico. Para esta realización el grupo permaneció por completo en interiores, no invitando a músicos de afuera a colaborar. Querían ver lo que podían cocinar con su propia banda en vivo” (1), y se ve y se oye que lo que lograron les gustó. Continuando también con lo hecho antes, "Number Seven" es un álbum concepto, narrado en 16 temas que se reparten en tres movimientos diferentes. Esto ya me dice que, estructuralmente, el álbum se compone con rigor formal, asunto que sugiere movimiento y buen progreso. Los músicos —o ingredientes, como son nombrados en los créditos—, Ariel FARBER (violín, vocales), Valerie GRACIOUS (vocales), Rich HUTCHINS (batería, canto), Mathew KENNEDY (bajo eléctrico, canto), Gabriel MOFFAT (guitarra eléctrica, lap steel), Molly RUTTAN (vocales, percusión), Linda RUTTAN-MOLDAWSKY (vocales), Mark SHERKUS (teclados, guitarra eléctrica), Johnny UNICORN (teclados, saxo, vocales, canto) y por supuesto Phideaux XAVIER (guitarra acústica, guitarra eléctrica de 12 cuerdas, piano, vocales), principal descubridor de los sonidos que se vierten y que se han vertido en cada nueva producción de ésta su banda epónima.
En realidad hay mucho que se puede decir de "Number Seven". Se puede relatar la historia que motiva el concepto, se puede destacar con gran detalle la ejecución de cada músico en conjunto y por separado, se puede hacer balance de los altibajos musicales, se puede describir el sentimiento vocal y cómo éste interactúa con los sonidos y los cambios musicales repentinos, se puede uno explayar en los motivos que mantienen sólido el estilo del artista, se puede explicar cómo se conjugan los elementos jazz y rock clásicos, se puede hacer mención de la curiosa decisión de PHIDEAUX de colocarse un tema en italiano, y hasta se puede involucrar en un relato explicativo sobre quién es Kathryn SKATULA a quien se le agradece por la guía vocal y se le desea descanso eterno en las dedicatorias, pero no quiero hacerlo… quiero que tu descubras lo que "Number Seven" ofrece, y te formes juicio propio. Lo único que diré son tres cosas: escucho el álbum como un logro superior, recibe nuestra nominación en ProgAwards 2009 para competir en las categorías “mejor álbum no italiano” y “mejor grabación”, y le doy una
Un álbum que es un viaje de imágenes y sonidos que poco a poco se van conformando en tu cabeza. Phideaux es una banda extraordinaria, capaz de componer algunas de las joyas más impresionantes de los últimos años, y no me refiero solamente a este disco. No hay canciones de relleno, todo está bien situado y muy pocas veces se pueden encontrar canciones tan hermosas y tiernas embebidas en una música tan compleja. Este trabajo y ésta no debe caer en el olvido. Háganle un reglado a sus oídos y regálense éste disco...
Vamos con los comentarios en inglés, para darle mayor credibilidad a lo que digo, lean un poquito lo que dicen estos extasiados escuchas, por favor, lean los comentarios antes de adentrarse al disco, para que vean que en realidad no estoy siendo nada generoso, simplemente estás en presencia de una banda enorme haciendo un trabajo de excelencia:
In My Not So Humble Opinion:Tom Wright
Number Seven by Phideaux is fantastic!
Ok, I'll admit, I was only somewhat anticipating "Number Seven"; IQ and Dream Theater were both coming out with new albums, and that was really where my heart was. I knew that Phideaux was coming out with one as well as Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Satellite and so on. There were a bunch of great albums coming out. In addition, I generally love the big sprawling albums or series of albums. I was less than enthused about an album being released between the trilogy compromised of "The Great Leap", "Doomsday Afternoon" and . . . well, the third one. My thought was, 'come on Phideaux, get on with the trilogy, why release an album from the bits that didn't make the trilogy.'
I was going to get around to getting it someday, then the thread was started on the Prog Archives, of course I followed along with that with some interest. Every one who listened to the CD apparently loved it. The excitement was growing and growing. Finally, I bit.
My goodness what a masterpiece this album is.
Before I go any further, a general comment on the sound quality; this does not sound like an independent self-produced CD, no it sounds more professional than several of the label releases that I've heard this year. Kudos to the sound team. The vocal mix is wonderful, just the right amount of effects and none of the over compression that I've been hearing in prog lately. Furthermore, the band as a whole is very good with the tone of their instruments. One of my reoccurring concerns, that of the choice of keyboard patches, is addressed beautifully in this album. Nothing sounds out of place.
The CD starts out with the beautiful "Doormouse: A Theme" a beautiful acoustic guitar piece introducing the Doormouse theme, a musical passage that will be heard again throughout the CD. This is followed in short order by "Waiting For the Axe to Fall", which introduces the second reoccurring theme, what I refer to as 'the axe theme'. "Waiting For the Axe to Fall" brings the full band into the picture. The combination of Phideaux Xavier and the ladies harmonies hearkens to the vocal arrangements of "Pure Reason Revolution", eerily beautiful and further augmented by the subdued piano of the axe theme.
"Hive Mind", "The Claws of a Crayfish" and "My Sleeping Slave" complete the "Doormouse Ensnared" cycle beautifully, keep an ear out for the reoccurrence of the Axe theme adding a wonderful touch to the end of "My Sleeping Slave". Again, everything sounds fantastic.
"Darkness at Noon" and "Prequiem" start the second cycle, the "Doormouse Escapes" cycle, both pieces show off more of Phideaux's acoustic brilliance. "Gift of Flame" adds a little tension to the mix before a batch of clavinets that would make Stevie Wonder proud. "Gift of the Flame" then does a little seventies prog tour with passages that are reminiscent of Genesis' "The Knife", a bit of Tull and some Crimson sounding saxes.
My only, very small, complaint for the entire CD lies with "Interview With a Doormouse". It's another very mellow and laid back acoustic interlude with the lyric, "Doormouse Doormouse, have you any cheese or, did it melt in the thermonuclear cheese?" While it's an ironically funny line, and a wonderful one at that, it's just a syllable too long (at least in the way it's sung) for the passage. It sounds just a little rushed and slightly detracts from the passage. Hey, I can only complain about one syllable in the whole album . . . and, remember, I like to nit pick . . .
The actual song, "Thermonuclear Cheese" starts off with an amusingly quirky chorus singing the lone lyric of the song. Fun passage.
"The Search for Terrestrial Life" is another great piece and a good point to bring up an additional highlight. Mr. Xavier has beautiful voice, almost pristine at times. This song shows a more gritty quality to his voice and wow, it sounds even better. "A Fistful of Fortitude" is almost Mamma's and Pappa's-esque, but works as a great ending to the Escape cycle.
"Doormouse Enlightened" starts with "The Love Theme from Number Seven"; major points for the name of this piece alone. Again, all of the instrumentation is wonderful in this instrumental. This is a wonderful example of a band playing together. You could argue that none of the musicians stand out in this piece, but I'd counter that with the argument that they blend together so cohesively. It's not a case of one member trying to outshine the next; it's a band in its truest form. Every note sounds like it's supposed to be there for the sake of the song, not for the sake of the musician.
"Storia Senti" is a great piece, after the first two minutes, one of my favorite and most catchy parts of the CD shines through. There's a bouncy happy bit, complete with sixty's sounding vocalizations, happy noises rather than actual vocals. It's a really fun bit leading to a spaghetti western ending. Well done.
"Infinite Supply" is a decent closer though somewhat nondescript musically; lyrically, it delivers the moral of the story (I think, still a little fuzzy on some of the lyrics". While "Doormouse ? An End" revisits the dormouse theme one last time and asks a final, cryptic question.
All in all, this is an amazing album, Phideaux' best of the ones that I've heard. I've no problem giving this one a full five star rating. Don't miss this one.
Pronounced 'Fih-Do'.Jonathan Payeur
My trembling hands are tearing up the cellophane enveloppe, I gaze at the fun artwork for an instant. I see a dormouse and a crawfish preparing for battle and I think:' Tarkus concept.' I pop it in, and I'm flabbergasted, yet. Next track. Again, such application in finding the right melody and yet no sign of aggressivity or crunchy guitars. Next track. Heavens be praised, another miracle.
Oh, Lord. How can someone create such exquisite and coherent masterpieces two albums in a row? I mean, don't he run out of ideas once in a while? The songs are so rich in textures of piano, violin or creative keyboard lines, everything is in perfect place. The words are missing to tell you how much I simply cannot live without that album now.
Doomsday Afternoon transported us in a world where Pink Floyd and the Beatles are caping together, where the end of the world scared and fascinated us altogether. Number Seven is propulsing you into another post-pythagorian world of animal battles, global pollution and thermonuclear cheeses. Lots of winks to many prog heroes can be heard: Pink Floyd, VDGG, Jethro Tull (Passion Play saxes) and even many Italian progressive acts like Le Orme or Rovescio della Megdalia.
No avalanche of mellotrons, no heavy guitars, no howling vocals and in these harsh times of progressive metal, it feels like heaven to hear some very intelligent material.
I strongly recommend, no, I command you to listen and make your own idea. But for me, I'm over the moon with it.
This is true symphonic rock, 100% growling free and probably THE best album of 2009.
Divinity, expressiveness, completeness, sensuality and depth!!!Atanas Dimov
As a preface I'll begin with the moment of the release of this album - the end of the 00s or 2009. The progressive rock music is close to another peak at its creativeness after the late 70s. So I want to be a good prophet, when I say the 10s will be the revival of the most accomplished works of progressive rock. The preparation for this began probably somewhere in 2006 with a lot of creativeness in all consecutive years after that - 2007, 2008, 2009.
One of the most authentic proof about my above words is the newest album by Phideaux called Number Seven. This remarkable work of art is strong and true candidate of best album for 2009 and valued candidate of greatest crossover prog album of all time (in our PA sub-genre division) as well. Number Seven is a perfect blend of classic art rock with fibres of celtic folklore, country music, classical music and psychedelia. Everything is combined very mature. For example, melancholic and cheerful moments goes hand-in- hand perfectly.
Phideaux's Number Seven is very similar and strongly reminds me to some preceding artists like Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield (my favourites). So, of course, it's highly recommended to all the fans of Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield. Where exactly the similarity is? The similarity with Pink Floyd could be found in some very elegant psychedelic moments, the way of structuring of all harmony back vocals, crystal guitar solos, the slow precise drumming and bass playing styles at the beginning of ideological part or shifting the tempo at the middle, and, of course, some acoustic moments including the male vocals. The similarity with Mike Oldfield could be found mostly in specific crossover-typed structure with returning and repeating motifs and mainly in celtic-oriented folklore music, but I should not forget the female vocals, which are very close.
And now it's time for the most important part of my review - the structure of the album. Yeah, it's the most important part for any crossover prog album, because it's the charm of this sub-genre. Here the structure of the album is divided in three part. All of them are constructed absolutely precise with logical links between. Each of the phases contains its own logical inception of the action, development of the action, culmination, denouement and an end. Moreover, the beginning and the end are connected, too! The themes and motifs of the composition are implicated into a chess game. There are so many turns and you can't remember everything. With every next playing you realize more and more new moments. So you have to remember you turns and their meanings, if you want to win the game/understand something.
Number Seven by Phideaux is already one of my all time favourite albums.
Flawless, brilliant, intelligent!!!
This album is truly amazing! Phideaux improves from even an album like Doomsday Afternoon! Close to the best album to come out since Fear of a Blank Planet IMO. The concept is an impressive one, and it does not displease. Although the album has to be listened to as a whole it's an enjoyable listen, one that you aren't likely to forget. The concept is hard to follow at times but the music flows so well it doesn't really make a difference. The first piece is Dormouse Ensnared which starts off with an acoustic intro which makes way for the excellent track, Waiting for the Axe to Fall. This song is amazing with some excellent vocals from Phideaux himself and his female partner. Although it changes tracks it doesn't seem like Waiting for the Axe to Fall ever really ends, which is fine becuse it's an excellent track, but don't expect anything more. The next piece, Dormouse Escapes starts of as a beautiful acoustic ballad which eventually starts rocking a little bit more when it gets past the almost sing song Interview With a Dormouse and into the totally amazing instrumental, Thermonuclear Cheese (nice title too). The piece ends leaving you with questions that just have to be answered! Don't worry, Dormouse Enlightened explains it all! Almost. Love Theme to Number Seven is just what the title says, but I was left in awe after I heard it, bringing to mind... Keith Emerson maybe? Not entirely sure. Then in Storia Senti the soothing Italian vocals are just plain beautiful, nuff said. But when it gets into it's rocky section Queen comes to mind for me. Infinite Supply is a nice ballad answering a lot of the questions we have but then with the last track more questions are risen. All I can say after this release is this: great job Phideaux can't wait for 7 and a Half! I really wish I could describe the album better because it deserves so much praise it's extremely hard to put into words. Give it a listen and maybe see what I mean.Tanner
Right in the middle of a three-album trilogy, Phideaux takes a break to do a concept album that is in itself set up as a trilogy and calls it Number Seven. Whaaa???? Couldn't he come up with a better title? Personally, I would have saved a title like that for my ninth album (number nine number nine number nine number nine). Well, it is his seventh studio album. Musically speaking I guess this is like album 2.5 in the trilogy that's currently in progress. It isn't too far removed in musical style from Doomsday Afternoon. Which is to say if you enjoyed that one, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this one.Brian S. Lindsey
The concept is about a struggle between a dormouse (also known as a shrew) and a crayfish (pronounced mudbug around these parts). This is basically a metaphor for male-female couple relationships though it can certainly apply to other couplings as well.
The music is classic Phideaux style. You'll hear lots of elements that hearken back to classic prog yet it's put together in a special way that keeps it from going cliché. For those who miss what could be done with album artwork in the old LP format, the artwork in the CD booklet is top notch. I'm a little hesitant to rate this as an essential masterpiece of progressive rock music, but what the hell, I'm rounding up.
A footnote that I read about first on this site, shrews actually do go after crayfish in nature.
Until last week PHIDEAUX was just a name for me, always read about him, but every time I was going to buy an album, there was another priority, so time kept passing and never got a copy.Iván Melgar
A few days ago I was buying the EPIGNOSIS download and for some strange reason also bought "Number Seven", probably more for curiosity due to the contradictory reviews than for real conviction, thanks God I did it, the album is worth every penny, at this moment my priority is to aquire his previous releases.
The album is divided in three suites (Or multi part epics if you want) of about 20 minutes, recorded almost as a Conceptual album about opposites, don't know if good-evil, masculine-feminine, Ying-Yang or whatever (My English has some limits), but it's intelligent and keeps the interest, what at last is the main objective.
The album starts with "Dormouse Ensnared"
"Dormouse - A Theme": Is a beautiful acoustic intro, people talk about PINK FLOYD, GENESIS or whoever they want influence, but it's an original and incredible acoustic section with a Medieval touch that sets the idea in motion.
"Waiting For The Axe To Fall makes the perfect contrast, vibrant and powerful, but without allowing all the strength free, the piano is delightful and the choirs in the vein of Pink Floyd match perfectly with the oneiric lead vocals. Don't expect radical changes, the name of the game is "thick and dense atmospheres", love it.
"Hive Mind": The rhythmic piano and the vocals in march tempo mark a transitional moment in the suite, the use of different keys is just brilliant and accurate, even though sounds inspired in Baroque music, thers's something that pulls us back a couple of centuries to the late Medieval period, After the middle of the track the real thing begins with extreme time changes and powerful passages, this is Prog Rock at it's best.
"The Claws Of A Crayfish" is the logical continuation of "Hive Mind", but this time PHIDEAUX gives more attention to the drama and melancholy over the dreamy atmosphere present from the start, the orchestration is simply delightful and impressive, even more when the heartbreaking violin and chorus complete the effect, really this guys keep surprising me, and please pay attention to the Moog performance at the middle of the song.
"My Sleeping Slave" is the perfect coda for the first suite, the dark mysterious piano and the Moog create a delicate atmosphere and the vocals add that PINK FLOYD touch so widely recognized in PHIDEAUX. An absolutely dramatic song with some dissonant chorus that add more beauty and interest. By this point I'm thrilled with the album.
Dormouse Escapes: The acoustic guitar announces the beginning of "Darkness at Noon" a very short folksy intro with breathtaking choirs and good vocals, flows gently from start to end leading to the more dramatic "Prequiem", which has extremely beautiful keyboards and electric guitar played in the style of Dave Gilmour.
"Gift of the Flame" maintains the dreamy atmosphere with a combination of electric and acoustic guitars, plus for the first time a saxophone that adds a jazzy feeling, the drumming by Rich Huchins is fantastic. But then a sudden change, the feminine vocals help to create a more cheerful atmosphere, another good example of modern Progressive Rock.
"Interview with a Dormouse" is pompous and brilliant, something PHIDEAUX has been avoiding from the start, but again changes into a troubadouresque song which connects to the weird "Thermonuclear Cheese", after a chant the songs morphs into something I can only describe as a bit electronic a bit Symphonic, with Baroque organ adding extra pomp.
"The Search for Terrestrial" is another weird song with narration and close to New Age/Celtic vocals, not my cup of tea but coherent with the structure of he album
"A Fistful of Fortitude" closes the second suite in a nostalgic mood, well at least at the beginning, because as the song advances gets more cheerful and melodic just to end soft and melodic again, very nice touch.
Dormouse Enlightened: Starts with the dreamy intro of "Love Theme From "Number Seven" but then Phideaux Xavier delights us with a fantastic piano solo, after some seconds a haunting female chant supports him, and only then the whole band joins, allowing a distorted guitar take the lead for instants, but that's not all, the piano retakes the lead role and guides the band to a frantic passage with everything that can be imagined, just wonderful piece of art.
Without interruption "Storia Senti" and the sentimental piano starts, a distant guitar joins with the powerful vocals in an elaborate work that starts to fade allowing some kind of re- birth, much faster and closer to traditional Rock. After this the song flows gently towards the end not before a magnificent keyboard and piano instrumental break and a couple of musical explosions, by this point I'm ready to expect the unexpected...............But hey, this is what Prog is about.
"Infinite Supply" starts more or less in the vein of the early ALAN PARSON'S PROJECT albums, with a majestic piano and vocals, in the background the violin adds some nostalgia, again the song flows gently without surprises, really touching.
The album is closed with "Dormouse", a song that again makes me remember some PINK FLOYD material but with something special, so hard to describe that I won't even try to do it, just will enjoy the music and sghut up.
Before reviewing "Number Seven" I was surprised, not because the high ratings but for the short reviews, after struggling for hours I can explain this, the album is easy and pleasant to listen, but incredibly hard to describe, seems that PHIDEAUX XAVIER is a perfectionist and adds what he feels is necessary without caring for genres or tags, and this is precisely what I liked more, being that rediscovered my capacity of surprise even after almost three decades of Progressive Rock.
Before I end, it's necessary to say I almost rated this excellent album with 5 stars, but being the first one I listen by this band, I will be conservative and give 4 very solid stars that should be 4.5 if possible.
In all fairness , it was a daunting task to overcome the genius of "Doomsday Afternoon" and therefore the assorted comments by our veteran prog review crew of "7" are indicative of a certain post-orgasmic letdown (Stop giggling, will you!). Our Tarcisio is correct in stating that as background music (aka first unfocused casual spin) this is no winner at all, in fact, it doesn't even have those monstrous groove moments that define the previous opus ( "Formaldehyde", "Doctrine 1 & 2" etc?). There seems to be a more homogenous construction that eschews the soloing instrumental pulse in favor of a story line that needs to be steered effectively. I am no big fan of silly neo-political/social/religious imagery especially when it involves a crayfish and a dormouse but I can see where the artist places his energies and Phideaux certainly has the equipment and the history to express himself the way he sees fit. So then, what do we have? An album that some will see as an upgrade and others a "sidegrade". (the downgrade is not an option, the music is just to luxuriant). Every note is clinically formatted for maximum effect and thereby perhaps loses that one true essence that made Doomsday such a monument: breath, expanse and actual music. It comes across as a vocal-heavy prog-pop-space opera that has an oblique message and an even more opaque delivery. Those were my first impressions, my pen flowing to the sounds emanating from the plastic. The zebra-shirted, black-capped official sternly trots to midfield, stroking his hip-mike: "Upon further review, the play on the field stands, third down!". It is becoming abundantly clear to this reviewer than Mr. Phideaux is above all 1- a music fan 2- a prog collector 3- as a musician , he is a master-collator, a seasoned cataloguist, weaving various well-proven and effective prog strands into the dense fabric of his compositions. Original only in that the incorporations can include a registry as panoramic as his personal tastes that go from Joy Division, Bowie, Floyd, Moody Blues, Tull, Roxy Music, VdGG, Sparks, Le Orme, etc... Example is one of the highlight acmes on this disc, the lush RPI-tinged "Senti" that has all the passion of an Italian prog opera. In fact, it probably "out-Italians" the Italians! As for the music on "7", the band is super tight, more into teamwork ensemble playing than any flashy attitude in endless soloing, the drumming is propulsive and the various keys lay down some mean sonic carpet. This is "snippet central" with an endless flow of mini-pieces infusing longer tracks always between the 5-7 minute mark in length , that mosaic into one colossal work (I must admit I prefer the more homogenous tracks in general), fitting into each other with nary a pause in the interval . The 6 minute "Waiting for The Axe to Fall" is a highlight stretch-out, with sublime violin, great male and female singing and a ghostly mood that ushers back to past successful achievements. On "Hive Mind", the haunting "femme" choir work and rifling instrumental passages are a sheer delight and the piano-led arrangement is as tight as a Scottish accountant. Acoustic guitar and sultry sax only add to the gratification. "The Claws of the Crayfish" has loads of dramatics (Ariel's violin), some effective bass from ex- Discipline's Matt Kennedy, whistling synths and rousing organs and some dreamy "aaaahs' from the Xavier saviour! The gentle soporific lullaby lilt of "My Sleeping Slave" induces a sense of floating, followed by some mini-frescoes , the astonishing but too brief "Darkness at Noon"(conjuring up images of Shawn Phillips's Second Contribution) , "Prequiem" the lady-choir follow up to Xavier's previous wispy vocal , sliced through by a soaring lead guitar (er... Finally, it's about time!). The longer "Gift of the Flame" infuses some instrumental verve and élan (yeah, more fretwork!), some passionate semi-Celtic flavored lead vocals from his ladies that is quite inspiring, while the e-piano and sax embrace lustily. You want to laugh now, said the madman to the disbelievers? = "Interview" is a short electronic cascade that ushers in the childlike verse "do you have any cheese?" showing that Xavier can also handle sarcasm, irony and a bulbous sense of self-parody ("Thermonuclear Cheese", hahaha!), silly you! "The Search for Terrestrial Life" is just too goofy for my taste, a wandering space dirge that sounds somewhat corny at first and just meanders too comfortably numb, desperately yearning for some musical spark (the guitar break is way too timid), even though the multi-voiced chorus is most pleasant. "A Fistful of (Dollars, oops I mean) Fortitude" has a "Clint Eastwood, early 70s Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone" feel that again shows composer Xavier Phideaux delicious sense of humor (as well as his astute poaching abilities). "Love Theme" is certainly the solid cornerstone of this album, a 7 minute foray into a sonic expanse that breathes, glows, and vibrates with a certain romantic melancholia, a grand piano delivering a heart rending message (that would make Wakeman blush with envy), a lead feminine voice wailing and hauntingly expressing the theme, a tortuous guitar frill paving the way for some more piano ramblings, a synthesizer solo and some seriously inspired playing that shows the unalterable contrasts with all the too perfect ensemble pieces before hand. This is Phideaux at his best: weird, odd, unpredictable (even tossing in a slight zeuhl feel) and brashly captivating. There is more music on this track than the previous 11 tracks combined and when the previously mentioned Italian "Storia Senti" section kicks in, the pinnacle core section of this album has been let out of the box, finally! A stellar slab of ornate and expressive music that Le Orme, PFM or Banco would proudly acknowledge, full of playful elasticity and inspiring musicianship (the" pa-pa-pa" female scat pipings), huge orchestral adornments and accent less Italian vocals from Signore "Fido". Bravo, ragazzo! Massive applause from the La Scala crowd. I am humbly impressed. "Infinite Supply" has a feel of finality, a post-orgasmic afterglow that doesn't really need to be overtly analyzed; just letting it flow is good enough for me. The story ends on another spacey effect, the Dormouse returning to his idyll hideaway and munching greedily on his aged cheddar, a vehicle for Phideaux' personal thoughts on the human condition (or is it dysfunction?).Thomas Szirmay
This wide compass is precisely why the ratings have been so varied, in that the chamber jazz/ gothic prog/classic rock maelstrom (No, not the sparkling Russell and Ron!) can lend itself ideally to a bit of listening confusion. As a whole, 7 has not grabbed me by the jugular and seduced me from the get-go quite like "Doomsday Afternoon". At least, not yet! Perhaps it will require a few more strategic spins, a more observant ear and a mental eraser, so as not to compare with the previous masterstroke. That being said, Phideaux has made his name in prog circles and beyond, his obvious talent and brash confidence are extremely well founded and highly appreciated by any open-minded music lover. We are all lucky to have you amongst us! 4.5 leaping goatsuckers
Phideaux is the catbird in the ornithological world of progressive rock. This avian denizen enjoys mimicking other species', but not religiously so or in rapid-fire succession a la Mockingbird. The catbird also has its own distinct mew, but even that is relatively mellifluous, and no self respecting catbird would ever mimic high voltage wires.Keneth Levine
So it is with Phideaux, who distills the less amplified and more refined aspects of decidedly spacey and symphonic rock with a preference for the classics. Everyone mentions PINK FLOYD, but I hear plenty more of ALAN PARSONS, CAMEL, MIKE OLDFIELD, and ELOY, as well as folkier artists who lean proggy like AL STEWART, DONOVAN and even CAT STEVENS. The mix is eclectic and tends to best of breed both in the referenced artists and in the references to them.
As with the masterful "Doomsday Afternoon", "Number Seven" takes many listens to fully appreciate, as Phideaux guides us on a convoluted route to and from the happy, sad, funny, and dramatic. The material here isn't as strong as on the prior album, as fewer truly outstanding passages are exposed, but it's still a hugely entertaining romp with its plethora of instrumentation from retro organs to orchestration, sax, guitars and pretty much anything else the group can muster.
From the first listen to the last, I admit to finding Part 1 to be most appealing, with the lightly sinister "Waiting for the Axe to Fall" and the suspenseful "Claws of a Crayfish" arguably the best tracks on the disk. Side 2 begins with a curious folky reprise of themes from "Doomsday" in the form of "Darkness at Noon". But its peak rests on the shoulders of "Gift of the Flame", which adds horns to its 80s MIke Oldfield /Maggie Reilly patterns and spare airborne lyrics that are anything but trite.
While weaknesses do emerge - "Love Theme from Number Seven" is as dull and unfocused as prog can be - what impresses me after umpteen auditions is a matter that separates Phideaux from a lot of his idols, especially those who were big so long ago. These guys/girls are having fun, and, even though they legitimately could do so, they are not taking themselves too seriously, and all one needs to confirm my suspicion is a quick listen to the various "Dormouse" components strewn about. But the lightness of spirit is everywhere, regardless of the apparently somber nature of some of the lyrical themes. "Storia Senti" sounds like it is leaning to the pretentious side just for its Italian lyrics, that is until a sublime piano theme bursts forth when least expected, and refreshes mightily.
Unlike the prog superstars of the past, Phideaux need not answer to empty suits, which means that he not only has been able to achieve a lucky seven opuses, but, to pilfer an expression, he is sitting in the catbird's seat, and looking and sounding just fine.
I've been waffling on this review for a long time now. A good part of me is desperate to promote Phideaux and this his latest release, Number Seven. But I still find it not quite daring enough to ever enter the realm of a progressive rock masterpiece. Naturally, don't just stop at those words. I do recommend this album, and highly.Spence
Phideaux has been an artist doing his own thing for some years now. It wasn't until the surprisingly popular (at least on this site) Doomsday Afternoon that his "thing" that he's been doing started gathering attention. It was with Doomsday Afternoon that I, too, came across his music. Believe me: if you enjoy Doomsday Afternoon, it's almost guaranteed that you'll enjoy Number Seven. The same meticulous attention to melody and harmony, with still the dense atmospheres and the meager amount of instrumental solos--all still Phideaux. The female vocals are even more amped up on this release, with the band's namesake in the vocal minority. That, along with a greater sense of "epic" sound, is what differentiates Number Seven from his earlier releases. The band rocks full tilt at points, slides gently forward at others... All in all, falling somewhere in between exactly what you'd expect and exactly what you'd demand, depending on who you are. Got the gist? So let's zoom in a bit, then.
The album is divided into three parts, though I find the middle part much less cohesive and more like a short series of segued songs that all exist very independently. The first suite, Dormouse Ensared (yes, this album is about rodents, for some reason that I haven't quite grasped of yet), opens with a quiet and whimsical melody as it turns into the haunting crawl of Waiting for the Axe to Fall. There are tons of keyboards dominating this album (this band, really), but here is one of the most densely keyboarded parts anywhere from the band. Lovely vocals, wonderful melodies, very nice to listen to though not particularly challenging or surprising. Also, as a note, don't believe everyone who might tell you that Phideaux is just a retro-prog band or that they're just trying to sound like the 70s. There is credence to such a claim, but it is not the whole truth. A lot of different musics go into Phideaux, and classic prog tends to be the one we hear the most simply on account of it being the one kind of music we all know really well. Or something. That argument is not entirely fleshed out, so perhaps I'll edit this later with a better ability to make sense.
The second part, Dormouse Escapes, is, as mentioned above, much less of a unified piece. Four of the seven tracks are short little pieces, falling somewhere between filler and mood-setter (I'm not counting A Fistful of Fortitude in this group, as it seems to me to be much more of a coda to The Search for Terrestrial Life). That leaves the two long tracks of this section: Gift of the Flame and The Search for Terrestrial Life. The former is the highlight of the album to my ears, being upbeat, beautifully performed, and much more diverse in its sonic textures than many of its Phideaux peers. The saxophone in here is wonderful. The Search for Terrestrial Life was a difficult grower for me, as the alternate female lead irked me a bit at first (trust me, her voice is great, just give it a few listens if you dislike her initially). The melodies here are also very striking and well-crafted, turning into A Fistful of Fortitude and cleverly wrapping up the second portion of the album.
The final third, Dormouse Enlightened, sometimes seems great to my ears and at other times feels like the low point. Love Theme from "Number Seven" is a bloated (but not entirely disagreeably so) instrumental. The piano near the beginning and the keyboards near the conclusion lift it a couple of notches, though. Again, there is very little soloing to Phideaux's music, so don't expect this to be a seven minute instrumental driven by a wild guitar solo or a freestyle bass duet or whatever was hip back in the day. The track then turns into the strange Storia Senti, which is a weak point for a little while. By the end, before it transitions into the final song, it does pick up, however, into a cheerful-sounding ditty. Infinite Supply rings more like classic pre-Doomsday Afternoon Phideaux, with a simpler, more rock-esque structure and Phideaux himself on the lead vocals. Lastly, the album closes with the (yes, it's all been tongue-in-cheek at King Crimson) folky tune Dormouse - An End, which features some of his strongest lyrics and most darkly whimsical performance yet.
Is Number Seven the album of the year, then? No. Is it good? Quite. If you're into metal or bizarreness or jazz fusion, it may not be the album for you (it still may, but don't expect it to sound like any of those things). If you're looking for some modern prog that holds to the ideals of the classics without actually mimicking their sound and song structures, or if you already like Phideaux and are unsure about this one: get it. Very enjoyable, and recommended more strongly than four stars might imply.
Acoustic music, folk rock, italian and retro progressive rockCaio "Dot" César
After the mind-blowing Doomsday Afternoon, a rather big amount of people were waiting eagerly for Phideaux Xavier next release, which would be the conclusion of the trilogy. Fortunately (or unfortunately, for some) Mr. Xavier decided to postpone the release of said conclusion to release another concept album with a quite unusual concept: Number 7 is about a Dormouse and a Crayfish! Unusual characters, to say the least. Still about the concept, most certainly Phideaux is very fond of trilogies, since this album is divided in three parts as well.
It is also interesting to point that Number 7 has some important shoes to fill, because it was the first album released after Phideaux's magnum opus and, as well all know, that position is always problematic and, not being at least as good as its predecessor, the album may be even unfairly labeled a bad album, despite being very good. The most famous case of this in progressive rock is the album In the Wake of Poseidon, by King Crimson. It is very difficult to keep up the quality and please everybody in these conditions, but by what it seems this album will not have that kind of trouble.
Music-wise, Number 7 is quite similar / is in the same style as Doomsday's: vast acoustic parts and emotional rock music, highly influenced by british folk rock and 70's progressive rock and, pretty much like in Doomsday Afternoon, the result is great. There is also visible influence from italian rock here, what can be seen even more clearly in the song Storia Senti, which is sung in italian. Unfortunately, however, this album can't impress as much as the one from 2007 did, despite the applaudable effort from Mr. Xavier. Maybe the reason for that is that the album follows its prior way too well, falling short of enough original ideas.
The music in the whole album has a dark feeling, something quite like the idea of silent suffering, but not desperation. Possibly the idea of decadence with elegance reflects better the idea of the album: the the beauty of decay and sadness.
Grade and Final Thoughts
So, if you liked Doomsday, listening Number 7 will definitely be a pleasant experience, though it would be nice if the albums were not so similar, musically. 4 stars.
PS: 100th rating baby!
This 2009 effort courtesy of Xavier Phideaux and friends is an effort that should interest many who enjoy symphonic progressive rock, in particular those who believe all the best music was made in the 70's.Olav Martin Bjørnsen
One epic composition divided into 3 segments and a total of 16 parts, where the piano appears to be the main provider of themes and passages while organ, keys and mellotron supply the finer details. The guitar has more of a subdued role. Wandering undistorted guitar patterns does appear quite often, subdued riffs and solo passages are slightly more rare - but the piano takes the centre stage on this production.
Recurring themes are used to keep a red thread to the proceedings, and the general mood of this album is subdued. No rich orchestral ventures nor bombastic musical statements; it's the finer details and subtle dramatics that are utilized. At times in a pretty quirky fashion, which along with the lyrical and musical content of Storia Senti makes me suspect that the traditions from Italian symphonic prog may have been a central influence on this effort.
Not as good nor as immideate as 2007's Doomsday Afternoon, but a great album non the less - but an effort that warrants the listener to spend time getting familiar with the scope and sound presented.
I recieve this album at my house two days ago as a gift that I win last month on Progarchives, so I remain on ignorance about this artist and I did prefer to know nothing about this project and see if I could like it without any back knowledge, and how impress I am right know...Juan Pablo Mijangos
I think this band has take the best of symphonic rock and release it with a very modern rock sound and apeal that can drag many actual fans to dive into the 70's symphonic bands. For start I can say I prefer their concept than the 70's bands because of the quality sound, the great sounds of the keyboards and the great mix of these amount of instruments... the voices are very modern and the overall concept -in music- is very enjoyable and catchy...
Guess the story is little kind of strange -the lyrics I mean- and maybe are not their focus, but works very well with the moods and textures of the tracks... it's a concept album and you can really dive in and feel great in this fresh and melodic journey... I feel like I was listening to Alux Nahual first records but with an improvement on the sound mix... I won't go in the track by track review... just give it a try to the complete piece and you will get it... this is kind of the best symphonic rock -not metal at all- that I've heard...
Also, if you like this, you can search for Alux Nahual, their first two albums were just like this, just with less quality sound (from early 80's)... so, very good choice if you enjoy the clean sound of symphonic prog rock... 4 strong stars... without a doubt...
It was the free mp3 of 'Hive Mind/Claws of a Crayfish" off of his website that made me feel it was very important that I begin exploring Phideaux's music by acquiring his latest album.Stephen
As is normal for me, I spent my first bit of time looking at the packaging, enjoying the many images of dormouse fighting crayfish within the liner notes. It also piqued my curiosity - why are they fighting? What is this album about? Either way, I knew I was going to have a lot of fun following the lyrics as I listened to this album.
Since the first time I listened to it, I have been unable to stop (similar to how Moon Safari's Blomljud effected me). While not as good as Blomljud overall, this album is definitely up there, and currently my favorite release so far this year (although I have a fair amount of listening to do still).
The CD is split into three sections. The name of each section gives hints as to what the album is about.
Dormouse Ensnared starts off with a very nice sounding guitar bit, and leads into four songs that are hard to separate from one another. They are replete with catchy vocals, melodic instrumentation, and excellent drumming. And there are female vocals! I think that, with so many prog bands (almost all actually) having only male vocalists, this album having female vocals gives it a unique texture. In total, there are three female singers on this album, and multiple male vocalists, giving the vocals a very varied feel. I really do appreciate bands like this, that take care to give their vocals a lot of feel.
The four continuous tracks are quite wonderful; the second half of Waiting for the Axe to Fall is an excellent instrumental section with truly interesting drumming that leads beautifully into the piano intro of Hive Mind (which I find impossible to separate from the next song, Claws of a Crayfish; not just because I originally heard them both together, but because they actually share musical themes). The lyrics are also interesting; my favorite line from this section is "You and I were talking, as if we were alive." Such a nice, thoughtful lyric.
The second part of the album also contains a group of songs that flow together like a single song, but prior to that it has a couple songs that stand out as individual songs a bit more. These are short and pleasant, but it is with Gift of the Flame that this section really kicks off. Once again, Phideaux is combining interesting lyrics, great music, vocals, and interesting drumming to really build a nice atmosphere of music. This leads into the faery-tale-esque "Interview with a Dormouse", a simple acoustic part with a theme that will be repeated at the closing of the album to great effect.
Of course, next is Thermonuclear Cheese, perhaps one of the most interestingly titled tracks on the album. It was also available for download on the website (with The Search for Terrestrial Life and Fistful of Fortitude in the same mp3). It's pretty much a fun little instrumental bit that leads into what I feel to be a really atmospheric song (The Search for Terrestrial Life), where a female singer explains the Cambrian era. It always brings me straight into the depths of the ocean, watching all these hundreds of thousands of life forms blinking in and out of existence. Truly magical music.
The end of the album features the two longest individual songs: Love Theme From "Number Seven", an excellent instrumental piece, and Storia Senti, which is also mostly instrumental. While Storia Senti is not as interesting musically as the prior instrumental sections, it is still an excellent piece of music.
Infinite Supply probably gets my vote for weakest track on the album, although on this album that still makes it a good listen. Dormouse - An End reprises the theme from Interview with a Dormouse, although it is a bit more bleak in outlook. Definitely a solid way to end the album.
Phideaux continues his winning streak of stellar releases, "Number Seven" being very much the heir to the outstanding "Doomsday Afternoon". As a whole, "Number Seven" is a symphonic journey through beautiful styles, moods, tones, and emotions, with a consumate songwriter as one's guide.Jeff Morgenroth
The album begins with the mysterious "Dormouse" theme, giving way to the beautifully ominous "Waiting for the Axe to Fall", which features characteristic blends of synth, vocals, and guitar effects. These features are utilized throughout the album, its recurring themes and melodies weaving a lush and emotive tapestry of sound. The vocals are great, with the female lead almost stealing the show. Phideaux's guitar playing is usually understated, so don't expect anything especially rousing or heavy-- mood and melody are the name of the game here. There are peaks and valleys within the dynamics, but things stick to subtlety more often than not (even though the album is about war).
The overall feeling is generally forboding, but never oppressively so. Phideaux doesn't seem to take himself as seriously as some other symphonic/prog stars, and "Number Seven" reflects that. Although dark, this release has a sort of bouyancy which keeps its tone and pace moving quite along, and it never gets preachy with its lyrics.
Very, very good, and probably a 5 star release if not for its close similarities to its slightly more striking predecessor, which has a greater depth of emotion. Still, "Number Seven" is a lock for album of the year on many listener's lists, thanks to its iconically progressive sound and genuine excellence. The blend of styles and quality of songwriting is poised to place Phideaux as the prog-rock artist to watch.
I had listened to Phideaux a couple of times on Last FM, but never really seriously, until I downloaded this based upon strong recommendations as to how to spend my birthday money in December.Steve
Boy, am I glad that I went along with the recommendations. This is a fantastic piece of work, lovingly crafted and executed, with a narrative revolving around a continuous struggle between dormouse & crayfish, but most obviously a metaphor for other types of eternal struggles. The narrative also includes an interesting (certainly for the first couple of listens) history of evolution lecture. You don't come across that every day!
I hear many influences in this album. Floyd, Parsons, Oldfield, and most definitely folk, including in a couple of passages, strangely, some of the harder crusty folk rock such as Tansads & Levellers that I still adore.
The playing is sublime. I have always loved piano led orchestral symphonic pieces, and this one does not disappoint, the vocals are spot on, and the ethereal chants add a majesty to the whole piece.
My only criticism is that the length could probably have been a tad shorter, especially in the second movement, but overall this has been a fine introduction to an artist rightly lauded on PA.
It will definitely move me to explore the back catalogue, and I can think of no better recommendation than that.
A strong four stars, and thanks to all my friends on PA who recommended it to me.
Though I don't think it matches the goth-prog hybrid which was Doomsday Afternoon, I think Number 7 is a credible enough album in its own right. A three act rock opera about the adventures of a dormouse threatened by thermonuclear cheese, it's a rather silly affair, but the emphasis on short, snappy songs which flow together makes it work by barraging the listener with constantly shifting musical styles. Some of the acoustic troubadour-style renditions of Dormouse's theme put me in mind of the twee style of The Decemberists, for instance, and on the whole various pastoral and folk-focused prog bands' styles seem to be referenced over the course of the album. More leaning towards folk-prog than the goth-folk-prog of its predecessor, Number 7 shows that Phideaux is nothing if not versatile.W. Arthur
I gave this four stars originally, but now I'm coming back to adjust its rating to a well deserved 5 stars. I just culdn't stop listening to it. Like Phideaux's other recent material, it has a mysterious mood and smooth flow carried through most of the album. Male and female vocals working together very well here. It's pretty much entirely acoustic which is a nice change from what I usually listen to. I think the only other acoustic prog I've ever listened to was Bacamarte - Depois do Fim. And that was hardly similar. But Phideaux does a tremendous job with driving rhythm with keyboards and guitar, drums almost 'hidden' or absent at most times. Anyways. this is a seriously great album. One of the best by Phideaux, on par with Doomsday Afternoon and Snowtorch in my humble opinion.Jordan
In the year 2007 I kept hearing about this artist named Phideaux and the new album "Doomsday Afternoon". After hearing all the hype in the progressive rock community over this particularly album, I decided to pick it up, and I was immediately blown away by what I heard. I couldn't get enough of the album, it was the perfect blend of progressive elements that I had been looking for. There was true beauty and magic throughout the whole album. That is why I eagerly anticipated the release of "Number Seven" and after waiting for several months, I was finally able to order a copy from Greg Walker, and I anxiously put it on in my car as soon as it arrived in the mail. And, I was blown away all over again!Nathan Waitman
This is a concept album involving a dormouse, crayfish and shrews. I think it is quite a feat to craft such a beautiful album from those topics. As far as the story goes, I'm still learning exactly what the meaning is behind it. It follows the journey of a dormouse from escaping the hive and experiencing the real world before finding his inner peace. The album is broken up into three sections and each section is brilliant and contains highlights. The first section, called "Dormouse Ensnared" begins with an acoustic guitar playing the dormouse theme, and it is a beautiful beginning to the album. Then, the epic, "Waiting for the Axe To Fall" starts slowly and builds into a powerhouse of a track. This track has every trademark element that Phideaux is known for. The vocals, both male and female, are excellent. I especially enjoy the use of a female vocalist, I believe that it really compliments the music and adds an important element. There is also some extremely beautiful piano work throughout this whole section, and moments that sound like the best possible cross between Genesis and Jethro Tull.
The second section is called "Dormouse Escapes" and it starts with a nice acoustic guitar led ballad called "Darkness at Noon". It has an almost latin feel, and Phideaux's voice is perfect for this track, it is beautiful. I love the track "Gift of the Flame". It starts off with an almost Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd section complete with Saxophone and a great groove. On top of this groove are the incredible female vocals the band is known for and the track continues to groove from there. I also have to mention the great little nursery rhyme section in "Interview with a Dormouse" that leads into an interesting keyboard driven instrumental called "Thermonuclear Cheese". This track is actually majestic and leads perfectly into the nice acoustic ballad "The Search for Terrestrial Life". Another highlight for me I have to mention is the ending of this section titled "A Fistful of Fortitude" which plays like some kind of triumphant western anthem. It is a great end to this section!
As if that weren't enough, there is a third section called "Dormouse Enlightened". This begins with one of my favorite instrumentals of all time: "Love Theme From Number Seven". It begins slowly, and is hauntingly beautiful with some amazing piano work that sounds very classical. This leads into a section with faster jazzy piano before leading into a fast-paced full band workout. It is brilliantly constructed and I could listen to it over and over. It leads fantastically into the ballad "Storia Senti" which starts softly with Phideaux singing beautifully (in French, I believe) with some beautiful piano and violin. It is truly heavenly. This leads into a faster, bouncier part that is always a joy to listen to. This leads into another beautiful piano led ballad "Infinite Supply" before going back into the Dormouse theme that began the album.
I can't stress how much I love this album and how I consider it a true masterpiece. The thing about Phideaux is that he is a true artist, he is not just creating progressive rock, but a masterpiece of art. Everything from the ability of the musicians to the lyrics is completely brilliant. I hold both this album and Doomsday Afternoon in very high regard in my progressive rock collection and feel that both album transcend the boundaries of progressive rock and become true art. I adore this album and it grows on me with each lesson. This is a great album that can not be missed!
Given that I don't really care about the trilogy of albums PHIDEAUX was making (at least in so far as it being a trilogy; the constituent parts are marvelous), I didn't mind him taking a break. And given our reward, I am especially not bothered.Langdon Hickman
I actually prefer this album to DOOMSDAY AFTERNOON. Like the previous album, this plays like a singular piece of music, with recurrent themes both musically and lyrically, though they do not feel the need to reoccur at the same times. You wouldn't necessarily think it would sound this way, looking at the track listing and the multiple sections and varied play times, but the first time I heard it, I didn't look at the tracks change and only noticed something was amiss when the album was over after the first track. I looked at a clock and, gracious me, an hour had gone by!
Part of the reason I didn't need to look at the clock or tracks changing during the course of the first listen is because of how ENGROSSING this music is. It really took me to another mental location, so much so that the line, "Dormouse, dormouse, do you have any cheese? / Or has it all melted in the thermo-nuclear breeze?" actually felt menacing as opposed to silly like you would expect. I feel the strength on this album comes from it's varied musical textures. There is a lot of vamping on grooves and odd scales here, but it feels much less like GENESIS. There are references to many different prog bands, like KING CRIMSON, the aforementioned Genesis, YES, all the mainstays, but there are also some uniquely non-prog sounds, like a greater focus on the gothic elements which had been pushed a little further back on Doomsday Afternoon. As a result, this album has a much stronger identity tying it to Phideaux, I feel.
The darkness on this is palpable, however, and that may turn some people off. But it is a darkness akin to RED or VAN DER GRAAF at their best, in that it is a kind of acknowledgment of the fierceness and violence of the outside world that is also inherent in ourselves. That sentence is a bit navel-gazing, yes, but it's rather tough to describe the kind of dark, introspective mood this music conjures up.
The greatest strength is also the biggest weakness of this album. It is rather subtle compared to the bombast of his previous works; this means you can't put it on and have it forcefully whisk you elsewhere like on Doomsday, especially with the swirling flutes of "Formaldehyde", for instance; this requires focus. However, I find the content much more satisfying than an album I consider a masterpiece. My favorite Phideaux album and perhaps one of the best albums of prog in the last ten years.
Dormouse vs. Crayfish round one. My rating: 9/10.Dark Nazgul
When we expect the final chapter of the trilogy dedicated to ecosystem crisis started with the The Great Leap, Phideaux surprising all with a new album that is not the following of Doomsday Afternoon. To complicate more things, the disc is divided into three parts too, which are linked by a key topic (as suggested the theme of dormouse, repeated three times during the album).
The first part of the album is dedicated to the extraordinary suite Waiting For The Axe To Fall where we found all the elements of Phideaux style: beautiful melodies, great atmosphere in the way of Pink Floyd, male and female lead vocals (what a great singer Valerie Gracious is!). The piano is the instrument that supports the entire structure of the song but even violin and sax have great rilevance here. The majestic elegance of some parts make this suite the highest point Phideaux ever reached in his career.
The second part of the record is a set of fantastic songs, which are all linked (in the first version of the disc released in 2009 these songs formed a second suite). Darkness At Noon is an acoustic ballad with the voice of Xavier in great evidence; in Gift Of The Flame we can hear clearly the influence of 70s prog, especially in the use of the sax in the style of VDGG or Jethro Tull (A Passion Play); Thermonuclear Cheese, an instrumental piece for organ and synth, is the first tribute to 70s italian prog (Le Orme in particular). The Search For Terrestrial Life is really a little masterpiece, with the lead vocals, masterfully executed, divided between male voice and two female.
The less interesting part of the album is the third: Love Theme From Number Seven have a bit too complex arrangement, with an exaggerated use of keyboards (however, the atmosphere of the dramatic piano introduction is stunning!). Storia Senti is the second tribute to italian prog: text is sung in italian, but unfortunately in a ridiculous way and the meaning is absolutely incomprehensible (I can say that without doubt, because I am italian).
Despite some sin in the end listening at Number Seven is extremely rewarding and I cannot give less than five stars: with Doomsday Afternoon, the best record of Phideaux and one of the most beautiful prog album of the last ten years.
Enfin,.... 7 1/2 was cancelled so no more rounds in the battle between Dormouse and Crayfish! Bye.
Best song: Waiting For The Axe To Fall
Phideaux is a freakin' genius.Bar Elbaum
In a fairer, more perfect world he would receive a lot more acknowledgment, fame and fortune because in the humble opinion of this reviewer, his last two albums have been two quite profound masterpieces. His forthcoming album is said to be a single composition lasting the entire album's length, which I await with baited breath. But I digress.
I have to say that this album is every bit as worthy as Doomsday Afternoon, and even better in some respects. Though the most transcendental moments on Doomsday are perhaps more memorable than this album's highlights, the concept here is more convincingly realised, making this a more cohesive and satisfysing work overall.
Besides, I think this is a more original work overall. Anyone who has explored Phideaux's discography knows that he can't help but borrow ideas from Pink Floyd (hey, at least he learned from the best). On Number 7 he continues to do this, but incorporates these elements into his compositions in such a way that he makes them his own, unlike a couple of moments on Doomsday where one or two sections seemed to emulate mid-70s period Floyd with complete accuracy (Thank You For The Evil comes to mind).
Despite that, Phideaux is anything but a Floyd clone. This is so much more than that and it really is an album containing music that speaks for itself. Listen to the sample song, Love Theme From "Number Seven", which is available for streaming here on ProgArchives. It's a fantastic, many-layered composition that will convince you more than any words I can write, and the truth is that it's not even close to being the most wonderful track on the record. That honour would have to go to the marvellous Gift Of The Flame or perhaps The Search For Extraterrestrial Life.
Do yourself a favour and check this artist out if you haven't already. If his next couple of albums are as delightful as the last couple, we'll all be talking about him for a long time to come around here, I can guarantee that.
NOTE: The CD I have seems to be the "remastered" second release, which Phideaux released because he was apparently unhappy with some factors. The track listing is different - tracks 2 though 5 have been combined into a 20 minute suite simply called Waiting For The Axe To Fall, and Storia Senti has been added to the end of Love Theme to create a 12+ minute suite (which is what I thought I was describing in my review). Some of the other running times seem to be different by a few seconds here and there as well. I can only comment on the version of the album I have, but it's brilliant.
For anyone who didn't like this album as much as Doomsday Afternoon, perhaps try listening to the remastered version, because for me it's equally amazing.
I loved Doomsday Afternoon and gave it a 5 in fact. It is a masterpiece. This, however, is just a simple good album. It is pretty solid throughout but for me there are few standout tracks. It is pretty much a mood piece. The last album was chock full of development of solid musical themes. This one has few memorable themes for me. That said there are no "must skips" on the album, and it is pleasant to listen to. Also the cohesive feel of the album makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. So for me this is a very strong 3 bordering on a 4 but I just can't round it up quite that much. [EDIT 8 months after original review]: - I am revising this from 3 to 4 stars. The songs have grown on me quite a bit, and when I think of all of the many 3 star albums there are out there I have to place this ahead of all of them.irregardlessly
In the 1970's I became enraptured with symphonic progressive rock and have spent a good amount of time sampling this genre of music from Progressive Archives. Up until recently, I was convinced that music would never again reach a level of genius and complexity I thoroughly enjoy from such groups as Kansas or Genesis: silly me! "Doomsday Afternoon" and "7" are exquisite feasts for the ears with phenomenal orchestration: I consider them both Masterpieces.todddale
Phideaux's only flaw, theologically speaking, would be its view on Origins. From a Biblical perspective (I make my camp with Kerry Livgren), I take the Word of God seriously as a historical document; if we truly exist by chance, then there is no hope in life. Sadly, Phideaux's worldview and concept of salvation leaves me disappointed in that Truth has been ignored/rejected. But wait! These are fantasy-concept soundtracks, right? With that in mind, I will treat the compositions just as that, fantasy-concept soundtracks and enjoy some of the best music I have listened to in decades.
In closing, I cannot believe that there are some who rated these albums with less than a '5'? shame on you! I can tell you right now that screening the release of "7½" will not be necessary; my credit card is now waiting and ready to make the purchase on Amazon.
This a truly beautiful album. It is easily my favorite of 2009. I won't go into details as many here have already done so. I still have not found anyone who likes "Doomsday Afternoon" and does not like this album. Some have said that this is not background music, and it demands and active listener. I agree, but I do wonder, who is looking for background music? Do they work for an elevator supply company? Highlights for me are "Claws Of A Crayfish" , "Gift Of The Flame" . "The Search For Terrestrial Life" which flows so smoothly into "A Fistful of Fortitude" that it could be one track. It is a difficult to pigeonhole this music into one of the subgenres of Progressive Rock music, but I see that as a good thing.Joe McK
4.5 / 5 starsspleenache
I am of the opinion that we are living in a renascence period for prog music. Last decade and a half produced two genius composers. Although their music is completely different from each other, together they define the diametric boundaries of prog music for our times. Phideaux Xavier holds the post at one end of the spectrum. He is the most successful synthesizer of all musical styles and emotions of the genre to date. Everything he composes has a strong foot firmly planted in the last 40 years of high caliber music with the other foot and arms reaching for the forms of the future.
Number 7 is an absolutely brilliant album. Besides Phideaux, the star of the album is Valerie. Her voice has a unique timber and she has the ability to exploit this gift to its full potential. I would say she defines the sound of this album. Notable contributions flow through every single member of the large ensemble of 10 creative individuals. Although I would like to single out Johnny Unicorn's saxophone work as one of the differentiating sounds between Number 7 and Doomsday afternoon. This album has strong resonances with Tull's Passion Play.
Number 7 will be inevitably compared to Doomsday Afternoon. I rated Doomsday afternoon five stars. The reason Number 7 gets 4.5 instead of 5 is solely due to my personal preferences. The topic and lyrics of Doomsday Afternoon somehow resonated with me more strongly then Number 7. This is simply a personal preference. I invite everyone who thinks they are into progressive music to listen carefully both albums and make their own minds.
I discovered this band in a fairly generic way a couple of months ago; through Last.fm rather than from anyone's recommendation. After being hooked on "Doomsday Afternoon" for a few weeks, I knew I had to give their latest album a listen when it was released. It was by happy coincidence that it was available just when I wanted to try some of Phideaux's other albums. Needless to say I bought the album from Amazon's music store (it's unavailable in CD form over here in the UK, unfortunately).mazza558
It took me 3 careful listens to fully comprehend the mastery of music on display in this album. Covering numerous themes and pulling in influences from many of my favorite classic rock bands, whilst blending in a modern edge to it all, Phideaux and the other band members have each brought their own styles and blended them together to create a masterpiece.
Just a few of the highlights include the busy, twisting and melodic "Gift of the Flame" and the latter tracks on the album (including "Love Theme from Number Seven"). I'm not going to go into detail about each track as it spoils the surprise and sets expectations. What I do notice though is that the individual talents of each band member are evident in every song. The ONLY weak point on the album is on "Search for Terrestrial Life", where the singing is a bit off-key until later on in the track.
With albums of such quality and surpassing those of much more "successful" bands, I'm surprised Phideaux is not more popular than he is outside of prog-rock circles. A UK/Europe live tour would gain a huge amount of fans, in my opinion.
Number 7, the seventh album by Phideaux? You don't say. A quick gripe here, if there is one naming trend that is played out it's just numbering your albums and not naming them. They can't all have the succinct memory engraining elegance of "Thick as a Brick" or "Dark Side of the Moon." Even something like "The Atomic Dormouse's Rocky Day at Crawfish Beach" would have been acceptable. In fact, I'll call it that from now on. TADRDACB for short (Pron. Tad-Rad-A-Cab).Ian Pitman
Moving on, TADRDACB is a wonderful album. It must tell a story somewhere in there. I'm just not really certain what it is. There is a shrew, evolution, a crayfish, nuclear war, cheese, the universe at large and all other manners of goings on. So it's a concept album, the concept is just a little obtuse. This means to really get the full experience out TADRDACB you have to listen to it in one go. Do so and you shall be rewarded with a moody atmospheric ride through err? whatever's going on. As with everything Phideaux and his pals do the vocals and keyboards steal the show from the rest of the still more than competent accompaniment. Awesome lyrics spaced throughout this sucker. Odious Spore of Doom indeed!
Where does this album go above and beyond? Why should you run out and get it? Let's fire it off with Waiting for the Axe to Fall. Love at first earshot, this track introduces the musical themes and the heavy feel of the album. It transitions well into the good but not quite as great Hive Mind that together dominate the early phase of the album. Also good are the soft spoken Darkness at Noon and Prequiem.
There is an honourable mention here for the combination of Interview with a Dormouse and Thermonuclear Cheese. Yeah, what the heck eh? But you'll never ever hear a deep choral rendition of the line "Therrrmo-NOOclear Cheese" ever again. After that comes some of that ever loved towering synths I read so much about in the papers.
The next time after Waiting for the Axe to fall that I felt my eardrums really snap to attention is the oddly mesmerizing intro to The Search for Terrestrial Life. Following the intro's eccentricities it comes back to some more familiar sound-scapes, but remains superb. The following sequence is the strongest part of the album and it comes to captivating finally in Infinite Supply. This one is chilling, emotional and explosive, five out of five no questions asked here.
All in all, we have a very worthwhile collection of interwoven tracks. It isn't consistent in its excellence; however nothing ranks worse than good. Four out of five of my personalities agree TADRDACB is a keeper
PAYING ATTENTION IS PAYING BACK "Dormouse, dormouse,..." this simple yet delightful refrain (out of the closing act of "Number 7"), made of voice, acoustic guitar and back organ, won't leave my brain soon. I eagerly started the first listens to last Phideaux opus in the wrong way: with loudspeakers in open air, thinking that Phideaux would have delivered strong melody lines, with space-filling vibes. The result was really puzzling, it seemed weak. Then I moved to go trough it with headphones or with Mac-connected good loudspeakers, that could allow for better definition of all the musical tapestry contained. And it worked, oh it did! Number 7 is an excellent work of art, with an excellent palette of prog/classic instrumentantion, almost with an unplugged feel. No weak moments, and no standout tracks (take it as a positive comment). After 8-9 listens, it is matter of my surprise to recognize the great flow and transitions of music from one piece to the following. The concept is intriguing becasue it is open, and contains some elements that Phideaux dealt with in Doomsday Afternoon. Musically, like wine tasting, you could hear a bit of Pink Floyd of Atom Heart Mother, of Mike Oldfield, and of others...all blended naturally and with personal talent. I gave Doonsday Afternoon 5 stars, this one would have 4,5, just to differentate a little bit...This band is quickly advancing with their talent. Can I have some more, please?ingmin68
Let me begin my review by first saying how appreciative I am that Phideaux is out there making music like this! I gave this album 5 stars, not because it is the best they have released (that crown still belongs to Doomsday Afternoon) but because it is so enjoyable in every aspect. Like any good prog album, it takes a few listens to fully detect the nuances and sheer brilliance of the music. I feel that I have finally listened to it enough to say that number 7 really is an amazing album. The ambiance and mood of the album in its entirety is something you will find no where else and is exactly why i so look forward to Phideaux continuing their releases. I won't review each song separately seeing as many people already have but I will encourage doubters to listen with an open mind and a little bit of patience because the payoff is so rewarding. Its soothing melody after melody with catchy themes and phrases sprinkled everywhere. The creativity and freshness is quite clear to me. Highly recommended. Keep them coming Phideaux!Movingmusic
I've been struggling to make up my mind about this album. Probably the most expected album of 2009 for Yours Truly, so you can guess that the expectations were quite high... I must confess that I was disappointed at first listen... Now, was that because I was expecting, perhaps, a clone of Doomsday Afternoon, or because this album was, after all, a disappointment? The key with Prog is that you need to approach it with an empty mind and commit yourself to repeated listens... Like a Meditation discipline, that is... Thus, I have listened to this album for about 5 or 6 times so far, and I found myself progressively surprised, satisfied and... awed. Phideaux has provided us with an album of great complexity, there are nuances and details that enrich the experience with each successive listen. While the 4 or 5 themes that made the foundation for Doomsday Afternoon were easy to pick and identify, the themes on Number 7 are more difficult to pinpoint, but there they are, and when you find them, it's oh so satisfying. One minor quibble though: I still find some frustration at the sudden stops at various points on the record, most prominently on The Search for Terrestrial Life: the rhythm section builds up to a nice crescendo and all of a sudden the music stops so the vocalist can deliver an almost spoken statement? It's like coitus interruptus: release, don't restrain!! One star less for that. However, I must award an extra star for the amazing marketing job that Phideaux has made into promoting this album on this site, and for the acknowledgements to all these obscure and almost underground sites? I felt an almost childish pride on reading the thanks to Progarchives.comAlex Ramos
An Album of SubtletiesRob Martino
Oops, the first time I typed that it looked like "subtitles" but even that wouldn't be too far off base, since Phideaux sings one of these songs in Italian!
This is a wonderful album that is the quintessential "grow on you" kind of experience. Each time though I discover new details, either a little instrumental bit in the background or some structural element that helps bind the album together. I almost think there should be a rule that one must listen to this album at least 5 times before forming an opinion- it really does "open up" that much.
What you don't get are blistering metal riffs, "look at me" time/key changes or wild improv jams. Instead, you'll find a carefully crafted, haunting musical journey of images, sounds and words. It's got symphonic prog elements, with a particular nod to the pastoral/folky/English flavors of such artists as Jethro Tull, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Pink Floyd. The music is wonderfully paced as one song moves to the next- there are ever shifting changes in mood and intensity, beautiful melodies, and intricate arrangement ideas (in particular I love the transition from Gift of the Flame to Interview with a Dormouse) all blended into a cohesive musical whole. Despite the lack of the orchestra from Doomsday Afternoon, this album strikes me as even more colorful and the performances more intense.
I suppose if one were to nitpick, you could find a few small timing errors in the playing. Those who like more extreme contrasts (i.e. Opeth) or bold experimentation in music might not find this their cup of tea. But for what it sets out to do, the overall delivery and scope of this album is mighty impressive. It wasn't meant to be the third part of the Great Leap/Doomsday trilogy but is perhaps the most impressive "epic" of the Phideaux discography.
The thing Phideaux seems to have learned is that one can pay homage to various influences but not come across as a clone, recycling old ideas in a superficial way. There is a personality, earnestness and soul to this music that to my ears is quite rare actually, even though it's unashamedly "retro" in sound. Easily one of my top albums of the decade.
Resumiendo, un disco sinfónico hermoso para que conozcan en el fin de semana, donde no le falta nada, un trabajo redondo donde la excesa composición sirve a fines de engrandecer la emotividad que emana de las bellas melodías, engarzadas una tras otra desde el comienzo hasta el final del disco. Traeremos más discos de esta banda para que endulcen sus oídos con música de primera, ya que como decía Nietzche: "La vida sin (la mejor) música es un error".
Un disco para apreciar, y emocionarse. Precioso. Otro de los recomendados del blog cabezón.
No se lo pierdan!!!