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Prog Round-up: November 2010

Album Review

Geoff Barton on new releases from Spirits Of The Dead, Delusion Squared, Dec Burke, District 97 and Sendelica

Spirits Of The Dead: Spirits Of The Dead

If you like your prog full of mellifluous mellotrons and pirhouetting pixies, look away now. Norway’s Spirits Of The Dead count Melvins, Dead Meadow and Black Mountain among their inspirations. As you can imagine, the word ‘waft’ is an anathema to them. Opener White Lady/Black Rave, a supremely crafted eight minutes of chaos and confusion, sounds like King Crimson jamming on tracks from Physical Graffiti. The jittery rhythms of The Waves Of Our Ocean might recall Talking Heads, but rest assured the pure, but simultaneously corrupted, tones of Ragnar Vikse (like Jon Anderson warbling with a pounding hangover) aren’t Byrne-like in the slightest. The highlight is the title track. Based on a filthy Iommi-style riff, if someone told you this was the malefic work of a bunch of late-60s underground uglies, you’d believe ’em. But it’s no mere slug-athon. Halfway through the band take their foot off the gas to indulge in some jazzy noodling, overlaid by childlike chorals intoning: ‘We’re The Spirits Of The Dead, we’re The Spirits Of The Dead...’ Prog goes voodoo? Believe it. (8/10) 

Delusion squared: Delusion Squared

This concept album tells the tale of a girl who was born inside an arcology (whatever that is) and goes on to become ‘the Mother of all people’. Split into four ‘movements’ – Remembrance, Delusion, Enlightenment and Legacy – Lorraine Young’s vocals are bewitching and sweetly evocative, while the edgy, ambient music resembles a high-tech Jethro Tull. (8/10) 

Dec Burke: Destroy All Monsters

This has nothing to do with Destroy All Monsters the Jap creature-feature, or DAM the Detroit band with formidable beauty Niagara on vox. Still, Dec Burke (Frost*, Darwins Radio) has created an intriguing pop-prog concoction, as heavy on the synth as it is on the power chords. If Howard (What Is Love?) Jones went prog, he'd sound a lot like this. (6/10) 

District 97: Hybrid Child

District 97, wouldja believe, feature an American Idol finalist and a Chicago Symphony Orchestra virtuoso cellist. Leslie Hunt competed in Season Six of AI; the cellist is Katinka Kleijn. This begins with the deceptively commercial I Don’t Wanna Wait Another Day before launching into mangled 10-part epic Mindscan. Cowell would hate it! (7/10)

Sendelica: A Nice Pear

Another corker from Fruits De Mer. Available on seven-inch coloured vinyl and limited to 300 copies, this has covers of The Velvet Underground’s Venus In Furs and Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. The former totally corrupts the original (if such a thing is possible) with its Sandie Shaw-style singing, and as for the latter... look, just buy the sucker before it sells out, okay? (7/10)

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