Once upon a time a young man called Nexter embarked on a journey seeking
"self-knowledge and experience", and the further he went the more he was able to
view the real effects of truth and ideals on society. Among others he met mysterious and
alluring Silk, a powerful old hypocrite called "Ol'Phat Fok", and Friedrich, the
eccentric fingerpainter of Freak Street.
That was Off The Path,
the first part of a story describing Nexter's weird travels and his strange experiences.
In Part 2, Sexus, Nexter returns to steal Silk away from Ol'Phat
Fok and escalates the a feud that has developed between them. Ol' Phat
Fok reacts by unleashing the "Hypocrite's Curse" on Nexter and his trip,
and the lad experiences oppression, cruelty and bondage - and the full
breadth of the Hypocrite's Curse has become evident.
Nexter's future travels have already been planned for him by House Of Not,
and will be described in parts 3, 4 and 5. A concept album spread across 5
albums is unusual, if not unique, and listeners can track not only the progress
of the characters described in the storyline, but also the artistic growth
within the band itself. And there's no doubt that House Of Not's music has
developed considerably since the release of Part 1. The sound is still partly
rooted in Pink Floyd, but far less so than before. In keeping with the
events that have befallen Nexter it's heavier and more serious. There's less old
fashioned rock and more blues and jazz and it's much more intricate, more
'progressive'. There's also a heavier dependence on vocal choruses. Brian
Erikson's voice is a cross between Roger Waters and Mark Knopfler, and he has
several backup singers providing a thick vocal tapestry. Award-winning singer
Dee Brown's female vocals on "Lady In Waiting" are particularly pleasing.
Several songs feature high female vocal backups a la the caterwauling in Floyd's
Great Gig In the Sky.
Besides the standard rock ensemble there's sax, harmonica and organ - but
it's the songwriting, rather than the sound, that sets this record apart.
Sexus will appeal to rock fans with an appreciation of the blues, and the
10-minute "Pipedream" is a long jazz-meets-rock-meets-blues piece driven by a
strong bass line, keyboard improvisations, and some wonderfully emotional solos
by the fattest sounding guitar you've heard since Gilmour's heyday.
"Footnotes/Hurt" is a favorite - a soft, piano driven instrumental piece with
truly excellent guitar solos. See if you aren't nodding your head when this one
finishes. "State Of The Union" features a satirical state of the union address
with bitingly cynical spoken words that may grate on you after multiple spins -
which is a pity since the underlying instrumentals are strong, simple and solid.
In fact that cynicism permeates several of the songs, and you may uncover a
political message by following the lyrics and the tone of many of the tracks.
House Of Not was formed by two Canadians in 2002. A third joined the band
recently and 14 guest artists contribute to the rich sound on this record. The
band's website provides notes about each song and a multimedia view of the Nexus
story, and is a work of art unto itself. On the back side of the CD insert
booklet there's a collage of artwork that will - when all 5 have been collected
and connected - tell the story of "The Walkabout" in a format that will be what
the band calls a "frame-able poster".
Join Nexter on his journey - or is it a trip - and you'll remember what
attracted you to progressive music in the first place.
2. Voodoo Bitch
4. Lady In Waiting
6. Is That The Best You Can Do?
7. Black Out
8. Footnotes / Hurt
9. State Of The Union
10. Behind The Veil
11. It's Your Mother
12. Secret Garden
14. Chase The Dragon