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Persephone’s Dream: Anomalous Propagation

Nine years on from their fifth album, Pan - An Urban Pastoral, Persephone’s Dream returned with Anomalous Propagation. Now admittedly that all happened back in 2019 but with the album only recently landing with SoT, so we delve in… Now, when I say that Persephone’s Dream have returned, it’s maybe best to mention that some of them, not all, are back. Only retaining the ever present Rowen Poole (guitars/synths), although ‘new' member Chris Siegle (bass/synths) is actually a returning founding-member, the rest of this outfit is now made up of Heidi Engel on vocals, Jim Puskar on drums and percussion, Jason English playing guitars and Laura Martin handling pianos, keyboards and yet more synths.

If there was one word I’d use to describe this newly formed sextet, it would be uncompromising. Not that what they produce is off the scale technical, or out of the loop mad. However, what this album does present is what I’d suggest is quite a singular view on what the prog-rock/prog-metal sound could be. Utilising some traditional frameworks, what I’d suggest are intentional detours are often explored with off kilter vocals asked to follow a melody that isn’t intended to simply ape where the music is taking it. The effect is initially stand-offish but truth be told, the more I hear it, the less I like it, which is a shame given that - I’d guess - in isolation, Heidi Engel’s performance would be impressive. As it is, to my uneducated ears anyway, it all too often leaves the lady in question simply sounding like she’s not that worried about whether she’s singing the song the rest of the band are playing. Now, with opener “Red Light Syndrome” possessing a spoken word interchange ‘between’ the vocal booth and the production suite where the threat of the big red button deleting the vocals is avoided by the music suddenly heading in a different direction, it does feel like it’s either clever diversion, or way of explanation - but odds on I’m wide of the mark with both thoughts.

With follow up track “Surveillance” plodding in places and arriving with a production that can feel a little cluttered, the improvement for me on what came before is only slight. However, again, with jazzy piano interludes playing against climbing guitars and almost lounge vocals, there’s a feel of this band asking, if not demanding, you keep up and if you can’t, well, hell mend you! I must admit that I’m be headed to the fiery pit, because while aspects across “Queen Of Fools” and “Deep Web” click more readily into place, the work required to see things on Persephone’s Dream’s terms is too much for me to contend with.

Fleeting moments on Anomalous Propagation sing and shout with delight but they are all too sparse. My own personal disconnect with the vocal styling undoubtedly creates much of that problem and yet, it would be remiss of me to leave the suggestion that if they were removed I’d suddenly start loving this album. In truth I wouldn’t and while that doesn’t mean that this outfit aren’t hugely skilled individuals, brought together the results leave me cold and a little confused.

Track Listing
1. Red Light Syndrome
2. Surveillance
3. Despoina's Dagger
4. Queen of Fools
5. Rhizomatic Horizon
6. Deep Web
7. Translucent
8. Defenestrated
9. Love
10. Candlelight
11. Principle Amor

Added: February 20th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Persephone’s Dream at bandcamp
Hits: 614
Language: english

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