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Phideaux: Infernal

Criminally underrated musician Phideaux Xavier has been plying is musical muse for the better part of twenty-five years now, releasing some incredibly sophisticated art rock albums along the way. His 1992 debut Friction, an album which I have not heard myself, begins the journey. Considered by many a demo album, some say it only hints at what was to come. Eleven years later he released Fiendish (2003), followed by Ghost Story (2004), Chupacabras (2005) and 313 (2006). I have yet to hear Fiendish but the three after are all superb works, highlighting my initial foray into Phideaux’s music. Number Seven (2009) and Snowtorch (2011) are more fantastic works of art that bear repeated mention. It has been a long time coming but finally Phideaux’s latest effort titled Infernal dropped on September 9, 2018, the final installment in a trilogy which began with The Great Leap (2006) followed by Doomsday Afternoon (2007). Unfortunately I haven’t heard those albums although they are certainly high on my list.

OK, so what do we get with this new double CD platter? Well, a whole lot of classic Phideaux awesomeness that had me hooked immediately. That is not to say this is simple music as it is surely not. The thing is Phideaux has always had the ability to wrap his intriguing arrangements and soundscapes in deliciously addictive melodies making his music very enjoyable and deceptively unassuming. You need to listen closely to hear all the nuance and musical layers and textures, to unravel Phideaux’s exceptional ability to craft memorable and intriguing songs.

If you have enjoyed Phideaux’s ever evolving musical palette, rest assured Infernal will be well worth your time. An indispensable work from an artist who still has a lot to say. Male and female vocals set amidst swirling keyboards invokes a dramatic setting in the moody “Cast Out And Cold”, the opening track of disc 1. The beautiful melody is skillfully constructed and the subtle yet intense builds scream sophistication. More fantastic male and female vocals can be heard on “The Error Lives On” where a steady groove, quirky tempo changes, orchestrated strings and tasty guitar and keys come together in just the right mixture. The multipart vocal section is an album highlight. The short “Crumble” features nice vocals over subtle background effects and leads into the riveting “Inquisitor”. Piano and organ accentuate a darker moodiness and Phideaux’s lead vocals, in my estimation are near perfect. The psychedelic infused “We Only Have Eyes For You” is more energetic and rousing with cool sound manipulations and psychedelic undertones in the guitar work recalling ‘70s Pink Floyd. You also get another great vocal from Phideaux and some of the keyboards have a Beatles feel which I really appreciate. The wonderful psych inspired guitar solo in “Sourdome”, is another highlight reel moment. “Wake the Sleeper” is another shorter track featuring just voice and guitar. It just goes to show whatever Phideaux reaches for in his bag of tricks it inedible works. The distorted guitar tone is really cool. “The Walker” is a sweeping and majestic track, very moody and slightly dark. The lead and backing vocals are again superb. Even darker is the psychedelic progressive rock of “C99”, one of my favourite tracks on the first disc.

The second disc begins with “The Order Of Protection (One)” as solemn piano notes and lush female vocals take the listener on another terrific ride. The sound is slightly psychedelic with stabs of distorted guitar and quirky synths. The terrific “Metro Deathfire” features a wonderful lead vocal from Phideaux, melodic keyboards and acoustic and electric guitar. Definitely a ‘70s Bowie vibe in this one. Pretty acoustic guitar leads the short “Transit” while the acoustic guitar in “The Sleepers Wake” reminds me of Pink Floyd or Roger Waters. The female vocal melodies are outstanding and the winding synths are pretty cool. Lush symphonics and tricky drum rhythms make things a little more complicated.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone familiar with the man’s music that Infernal is a fantastic album. I’ll be listening to this one for years to come.

Track Listing:
CD 1
1. Cast Out And Cold
2. The Error Lives On
3. Crumble
4. Inquisitor
5. We Only Have Eyes For You
6. Sourdome
7. The Walker
8. Wake The Sleeper
9. C99
10. Tumbleweed

CD 2
1. The Order Of Protection (One)
2. Metro Deathfire
3. Transit
4. In Dissonance We Play
5. The Sleepers Wake
6. The Order Of protection (Two)
7. From Hydrogen To Love
8. Eternal
9. Endgame (An End)

Added: June 23rd 2019
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1237
Language: english

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