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Deluge Grander: August In The Urals

The album's title is misleading. You'd think a record called August In The Urals ought to be in your daddy's muzak collection, right? Fortunately that's far from the truth - this one belongs in your CD collection, standing shoulder to shoulder with your best progressive art rock.

Think Crimson meets Present - with a stronger keyboard influence. In fact - the very second note on this record is dissonant and you just know where it's going. It's a bit challenging, it's symphonic, it's ambitiously artsy, and it's one of the better albums of the year.

August In The Urals is almost all instrumental - including the vocals. That means that very few sections are sung normally, most vocals are well back in the mix, and they sometimes form a sort of melancholy low-register chanted choral backdrop. So it doesn't matter that the vocals are the only sub-par aspect on the album, and it's the keys and the guitars that dominate the instrumentation. The keys include tons of well applied Mellotron and very pleasing piano work, and the guitar takes on many uncommon voices that play well into the overall mood of the piece. Add occasional contributions by saxophones, xylophone, and trumpet - among others - and imaginative song structures with thickly layered arrangements that adhere to every tenet of the progressive genre, and you have a piece that could have come out of any decade - from the '70s onward.

There's a somber mood to many of the 5 songs that play over 71 minutes. "Inaugural Bash" is a complex 27-minute epic that effortlessly holds your interest as it swirls and eddies around several themes that are constantly developed and revisited. Some of the nicest moments here are the minimalist sections with a soft guitar playing over an elegantly simple one-handed piano line. As you might expect from its title, "A Squirrel" features fast, smooth piano work that easily evokes images of that creature's restless energy.

Someone recently described this album as fusion. Despite the band's origins, nothing could be further from the truth because there's very little jazz influence here. Deluge Grander started as the solo project of Dan Britton, of Cerebus Effect, and grew into a sort of Cerebus Effect Mark-II. Yet that band's music gives no clues about what to expect from this new incarnation. It's hard to find any common thread between the first 2 Cerebus Effect EPs which are pure fusion, Cerebus Effect's Acts Of Deception which is a very powerful CD with an eclectic mix of genres - and this one. They're all different.

Anyone who appreciates a sophisticated, slightly avant garde style of moody, dissonant art rock ought to give this one a try. The vocals and production are low spots - but it gets 5 stars anyway.

Track Listing:
1. Inaugural Bash (26:57)
2. August in the Urals (15:52)
3. Abandoned Mansion Afternoon (12:14)
4. A Squirrel (8:45)
5. The Solitude of Miranda (7:18)

Added: December 9th 2006
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 4925
Language: english

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