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Jadis: Photoplay

Jadis has always been one of those so-called neo-progressive bands whose members sound much more thrilled to be making music than many of their peers. That trait became more evident as time went on, climaxing with 2003's excellent Fanatic. Now comes Photoplay, another feel-good Jadis record (just listen to the opener "There's A Light"), which features guitarist/singer Gary Chandler and drummer Steve Christey, along with IQ's John Jowitt on bass and Martin Orford on keys. Incidentally, Orford recently ended his 15 years of service to Jadis, as both band and man admitted his talents have been underutilized. Perhaps that is no more obvious than on Photoplay.

Admittedly (and, apparently, proudly) made with ample assistance from ProTools, Photoplay provides an array of musical colors without any one instrument dominating vocals included. Chandler, whose voice still sounds young, took over engineering duties on this record and gave many of the 11 songs a bottom-heavy groove previously lacking on Jadis records. "What Goes Around" and "Asleep in My Hands" outright rock, with modern vocal effects dancing with dense Mellotron in the former and an aggressive guitar riff in the latter. The majestic "Who I Am" soars on the chorus, and acoustic-guitar touches add texture to "Need To Breathe," the album's heaviest song. Photoplay closes with the melancholy of "All You've Ever Been" and the somber title track, a pensive instrumental piece that essentially is one lengthy, smoldering guitar solo accented by subtle ambient keys. It's unlike anything else in the Jadis canon and proof that the band isn't failing to evolve a criticism it has endured during much of its 20-year career.

If anything, Photoplay sounds as if it was made by a band just now reaching its prime.


Track Listing:
1) There's A Light
2) What Goes Around
3) Asleep in My Hands
4) Standing Still
5) I Hear Your Voice
6) Make Me Move
7) Who I Am
8) Need to Breathe
9) Please Open Your Eyes
10) All You've Ever Known
11) Photoplay

Added: June 1st 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Jadis Web Site
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Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Jadis: Photoplay
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-06-01 16:20:40
My Score:

Jadis' new album is quite possibly their most rewarding work to date. Unlike its predecessor, it consists of independent songs rather than following a concept, and is put together with a strictly defined songwriting attitude. Guitarist and vocalist Gary Chandler also took on the responsibility of mixing Photoplay with impressive results. There are moments on the album where infinite numbers of threads are tied together combining dense atmospherics with gripping guitar arrangements. Without doubt, the production on the album is their best yet.

Unlike the more synth-driven earlier Jadis albums, Photoplay boasts lots of guitar-centred passages that are brilliantly mixed with rich melodies. "I Hear Your Voice" could be the definitive Photoplay song: it begins with floating Mellotron sounds that are married with a funky bass walk and rocking guitar melodies. Chandler's vocals in the chorus have a nice catchiness to them, particularly when they soar above the beautiful piano section. "There's A Light", the opening song, is another great representative of this record. The guitar work is sublime and Martin Orford's keyboards are ethereal to say the least. Chandler's voice is more confident than before mixing nicely with a slightly blues-inflected guitar solo as restrained acoustic guitars are also inserted into the mix. There is more to enjoy. The slightly ethnic beats on "What Goes Around" underlie both processed and clean vocals by Chandler as the piece also displays great interaction between the guitars and keys; while "Asleep In My Hands" stands out for its powerful drumming and blazing synth effects, much like the relatively modern-sounding "Standing Still" whose psychedelic pop inflections and dark Mellotron patterns highlight the terrific bass fills by John Jowitt.

"Make Me Move" is formulated by subtle chord progressions and excellent female backing vocals, not to mention the outstanding instrumental sections. I was able to discover these subtleties around the fifth or sixth time I spinned Photoplay, which was all the more surprising. Actually the best thing about this disc is how all those small details come out amidst those seas of synth and guitar melodies. I'm particularly impressed by Chandler's clever use of acoustic guitars that seem unnoticeable upon first listen, but each spin cements the fact that it is the addition of wonderful acoustic guitars that adds so much colour to these compositions. The intro of "Need to Breathe" is a great example with swells of synth melodies and challenging bass chimes. So solid is the songwriting that it pulls you in and takes you to a different level. "Please Open Your Eyes" is the perfect love song driven by every neo-prog element: melodic guitars, fragile synth textures, rhythmic bass and drums; and more acoustic guitars that seem like they were secretly draped over the piece at the last minute. With all due respect to these songs, my favourite has got to be the title track. Not only is it the most beautiful album closer on any Jadis disc, it's also one of the most emotional instrumental songs Chandler has ever written. Mostly guitar-based, he juxtaposes open strings and heart-wrenching bends with dynamic synth effects provided by Orford. It's a great finale to the album.

Recommended to fans of IQ, Pendragon, Arena as well as Toto and Asia. There is something for everyone here.

Jadis: Photoplay
Posted by Steve Ambrosius, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-02-15 19:12:25
My Score:

Jadis, although made up of bands that I have followed for years, just have always been a band I never got around to purchasing. Needless to say, that after listening to Photoplay, they will be high on my shopping list. Gary Chandler has written new progressive rock that is firmly anchored in the past, without sounding dated or stale. In fact I was expecting more of an Arena or IQ sound. What I got reminded me of Presto Ballet, Enchant, and Mind's Eye.


Although you can not listen to an IQ CD without saying "There's Martin Orford", the keyboards on Photoplay are actually subdued. Orford is excellent here, filling where needed, and setting mood as well, but this is a lead guitar / bass guitar album, much like Juggling 9 Or Dropping 10. Chandler's vocals actually remind me of Jeff Hodges, not so much in range, but in the way he sings a complicated phrase. Jowitt is stellar here. If you purchase CDs because of bass riffs, odds are you already own this one.


Photoplay rocks hard. There are occasional slower moments, but nothing that would get classified as a ballad. Songs like "Standing Still", although mellow, still have enough going on to keep you grooving. The only weak song on Photoplay is "Make Me Move", a little too forced. Highlights for me include "I Hear Your Voice", "There's A Light" and "Asleep In My Hands". This is highly recommended to those who put the ROCK high up when judging progressive rock.



» Reader Comments:

Jadis: Photoplay
Posted by David on 2006-02-11 13:18:53
My Score:

Sorry, but as a long time Jadis fan (1987 ish), this album is really disappointing on first listen.
I will report back after a few more plays. To me this record sounded BORING!!!!

[Later...]

Ok, this is getting better now...3 plays in and I'm hooked!
Really loving this CD now; so what do I know - head bowed in respect to Mr Chandler.
A more mature Jadis these days....better in the house than car, who would have thought it possable!!!!

RESPECT!!!

David





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