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Pulse Engine: Polarised

For a duo of only bass and guitars together with a smattering of vocals in the appropriate places, you'd swear you were listening to a whole ensemble of players as their album entitled Polarised certainly contains much more than meets the ear. Nick Cottam & Andrew Booker are the two players that make up this duo. They are both very capable musicians as they explore several styles that have reminded me of several other bands although I could hardly accuse them of any plagiarism as their songs definitely make every effort to maintain their own original sound. If I had to choose a reference point, I would have to include, Gong, Steve Hillage and even some Captain Beyond. The riffs are often engaging without being too dramatic and are reminiscent of the sort of fuzzed out bass sound that bands like Jade Warrior utilized many years ago. This is particularly evident on the tracks, "Hayal Kahvesi" and "Dynamite."

Despite the cleverness of these players, their sound is a bit linear inasmuch that any thematic development in each of their songs is constrained by the relatively small range of sounds and effects that are available from both instruments. Adding several other instruments to the equation would certainly add to the overall appeal as it must be extremely difficult to obtain a lot of work as a progressive rock duo playing what is often a highly marginalized form of music. Certainly, there are not many sections that one could equate with a stellar sounding arena rock band capable of playing compelling songs that really grab you by the vernaculars. Not that this duo is attempting to do that. However, their overall appeal is going to be severely limited to those whose preference is for music that drifts in and out of focus without any totally cohesive direction and intent. There are songs that follow a really good rhythm only to be let down by a later song that is too often filled with too much waffle. About 2 minutes into "Synchronise Day", Andrew & Nick turn up the heat into what I found to be the best track on the album with some scorching bass underpinning some great drumming and patches of great lead work on the bass, no less. Yet after less than 3 minutes later, proceedings come almost to a standstill with some less than inspired noodling which just takes up binary space on the disc. With little cohesive structure, rhythm or direction, the track "Radioactive Two" is a major disappointment after such a great track preceding it.

As is often the case with bands who don't exploit the full potential of their clever writing skills, the heights to which these guys will achieve will be very much determined by how far an audience will go along with what is tantamount to only a mini rock orchestra of just 2 minstrels. The potential here beggars belief as these guys have some brilliant ideas and are both very adept at extracting the maximum from their respective instruments. To ignore the tried and well trodden path used by other progressive rock musicians whereby other complementary instruments can add convincingly to the impact a band such as this could have, can not be understated. Some songs cry out for the inclusion of some appropriate guitar, where others could do well with some keyboard, violin or even some flute accompaniment. Maybe I'm being too pedantic here or perhaps my own personal preference for a holistic sound is hard for me to ignore. Call it what you will, however, I guess for my own aural satisfaction, my enjoyment of most progressive music moves into the highest levels of totality when the word, "keyboards" appear somewhere in the credits section of the cover.

Notwithstanding my earlier comments, I am still left with some positive impressions from these guys. They play what they believe in and they play it well. Let's hope that any future efforts capture a wider audience as the potential is certainly only surface deep.

Added: November 17th 2003
Reviewer: Greg Cummins
Related Link: Pulse Engine Web Site
Hits: 2516
Language: english

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