Let me start off here by saying that I've never been a big fan of Present. However, after spinning High Infidelity a few times, I think my opinion is quickly changing. This dark and daring band from Belgium has created here a sometimes haunting, always jarring, yet complex and intriguing work that demands attention while taking the listener on its eerie journey.
This CD was put together between 1999 and 2001, but the end result sounds like it was completed in one sit down. The opening six part, 27-minute epic "Souls For Sale" is a deliciously horrifying nightmare of a song, with heavy and complex guitar work from Roger and Reginald Trigaux, manic, crashing drums from Dave Kerman, nimble keys from Pierre Chevalier, acrobatic bass from Keith Macksoud, and funky horns from Fred Becker and Dominic Ntoumos. Think of a warped marriage between King Crimson, Univers Zero, and early Chicago and you get some sense of the frenzy that is going on here. The jagged, frenzied guitar work of father and son Trigaux is as dissonant and metallic as Robert Fripp at his most savage, and it's fascinating to hear Matthieu Safatly's gentle cello fighting to get into the mix with the intense electric guitars still lurking in the background. This is what creating drama and tension in music is all about folks! "Strychnine for Christmas" (great title huh!) finds the band slowing things down just a tad, as the bass and drums hit repetitive rhythms behind some evil sounding cello lines and angular guitar chords. Just when you thought the band was lulling you into a coma, all the instruments come crashing in, as do the vocals, for a furious mix of hard rock and jazz, backed by some creepy Mellotron. The nine- minute closer, "Reve De Fer", is a blistering and angry instrumental with busy bass work, distorted guitar squeals, and manic piano and sax lines.
By no means is High Infidelity an easy listen, and if you need lots of melody in your music stay clear of this. However, if you like your prog on the wild side, with lots of energy, creepy themes, and on the dissonant side, this will be right for you. Recommended!