Shimmering Lights is The D Project's debut album - and fortunately the
music is more imaginative than the dull band name. Stéphane Desbiens is
the guitarist in Sense, a Quebec-based band, and for his first solo outing he's
recruited a slice of progressive rock's who's who - and let's face it when you
hear the names Tomas Bodin, Martin Orford and Fred Schendel associated with a
record - you're going to sit up and take note. Good marketing - but the
real question is how those luminaries have contributed to the music.
Although the overall result is good, this record may strike you as being a
bit Uneven. Some tracks are good neo prog, one is pretty crude hard rock,
and some are symphonic. Whereas we appreciate it when every song is different,
it also helps if there's some unifying theme. The style is prog-rock with
one foot in the '70s and the other dipping indecisively into the pools of neo
and symphonic prog. The vocals are generally good – the timbre is pleasing in an
unstrained mid-range, and the lightly-accented delivery is pitch-perfect.
Occasional samples have been inserted, with the snippets from speeches and the
clichéd but always pleasing sounds of children playing. They work well because
they aren't overdone, and they don't intrude after multiple spins.
Although there's that big difference from one track to the next, every song
flows seamlessly into the next, and in some cases you might be a bit baffled by
why the track theoretically ends where it does. The whole thing yields 50
minutes of continuous play, in what sounds like a single meandering piece with
structures that swing from one end of the prog spectrum to the other - and while
some listeners and reviewers may feel that is inconsistent, that's exactly what
will turn many other listeners on to Shimmering Lights.
You'll hear a lot of 'Tron, Moog and Hammond sounds from Fred Schendel on the
keyboard-oriented closing track "That's Life". In various other parts of
the record violins and female backing vocalists add a pleasing layer.
Listen for the Chapman Stick, and Desbiens is certainly a capable guitarist.
Some of the Mellotron-lines sound tired, as if the tapes have stretched.
They sound great when heard through the filter of reminiscence, but today it
will have limited appeal.
The title track has a nice intro, then features annoying drumming in first
half. It gets chaotic for a while, then settles into a fairly good
symphonic / neo progressive rock piece. "What Is Done Is Done" may strike
you as just an unimaginative, linear hard rock piece with dumb lyrics. "End Of
The Recess" is a standout track - all instrumental, and very melodic. Orford's
keyboards - as always - are beautifully played, and trade lines with an elegant
acoustic guitar. In "They Come And Grow" Desbiens wears his Floyd influences on
his sleeve, and the riff in the early part is borrowed directly from
Dark-Side-era Gilmour. "September Solitudes" is a 10-minute mini-epic that has a
bit of everything, and is a very pleasing symphonic prog piece.
So in summary - one song is a clunker, but the whole is definitely bigger
than the sum of the parts and Desbiens's debut certainly deserves to be heard.
1 Shimmering Lights (8:54)
2 They Come And Grow (6:23)
3 Hide From The Sun (7:59)
4 What Is Done Is Done (3:36)
5 End Of The Recess (3:51)
6 September Solitudes (10:08)
7 That's Life (7:39)