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Musaphonic: Billiken Dance

Musaphonic is the brain child of composer and performer Tony Arnold, his synthesizer compositions pleasingly challenging to tie down to a particular style. Electro-Prog with dance beats feels appropriate and yet it only covers half the story. Now available on CD, Billiken Dance was originally released in 2012 and it's a confident, if somewhat confusing collection.

The basis of much of what's on offer arrives with swathes of synths (and the odd interjection of guitars) cascading out in mighty fashion. Vangelis on a budget a possible comparison, however, especially early on in the album, many of these lush themes come accompanied by a thunderous beat; hi-hat swooshing and swashing over everything in sight, as a thumping bass drum drives home its message. On occasion, the expected relationship between the tempo of the music and the beat of the drum doesn't necessarily interact as you'd anticipate them to. Sometimes it makes for an interesting journey to try and keep up, yet all too often it simply splits the attention, leaving you to choose to try and block out either the melody, or the beat itself.

Even remastered, the mix doesn't always help, the likes of the majestic "Idiorhythmia" muffled and tamed by a muddy sound. However when things are less cluttered, as is the case on the potent, unnerving, "Zygos", or stripped back (dare I say, much more conventional and all the better for it) "Auspicion", the results really can be startlingly engaging. However for the most part, that's a word I've found difficult to associate with Billiken Dance, too much of what's on offer feeling like a challenge to the listener, with never quite enough carrot put on the stick to keep you wilfully moving through the more idiosyncratic moments, of which there are many.

Billiken Dance certainly isn't for me. Although yet, while I listen to a lot of instrumental music and on occasion enjoy a more avant-garde or technical art-prog side of things, maybe it simply isn't 'song based' enough for my tastes. There's much to admire about the music Tony Arnold has created here, but personally, I can't say this album has drawn me into his musical world; if you enjoy a challenge, the journey may prove more fruitful for you.

Track Listing
1. The Developmentally Arrested Thespians' Midlife Crisis
2. Billiken Dance
3. Bilateral Symmetry
4. Idiorhythmia
5. The Ambit
6. Tangaloa
7. Wondjina
8. Kaboobie
9. Zygos
10. Auspicion
11. The Bloop
12. Peripeteia

Added: December 6th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Musaphonic on BandCamp
Hits: 1421
Language: english

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