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Group Du Jour: Terra Incognita

Daniel Crommie's band project Group Du Jour provides us with, arguably, Oregon's answer to Steve Hackett. Whilst not sounding at all like a Hackett clone, the album does possess the same essential ethic of strong composition and variety. The album mixes ethnic influences with interesting guitar effects, short songs with plenty of good hooks and of course Daniel's ever-present flute, which is played perhaps more like Tim Weisberg than John Hackett.

This is the first full studio album by the band since 1992's The Mystery Plays and sees Crommie team up with Bo and Paul Parker in the writing. Paul Parker's guitar is the major sonic element in the Hackett connection and appears forcefully on the first piece, "Twilight Torches". The poignant "Down in a Hollow", which follows, showcases Bo Parker's rich vocal talents.

The first significant African element is thrown in for "Can't Tame the Jungle", a catchy slow burning rocker with a compote of percussion accompaniment illuminating the rhythm and a searing fuzz guitar which wraps itself around the beat.

"Remembering Beauty" is a reflective composition for flute and synth with mournful vocalisations from Bo. "Third Hemisphere" picks up the African influence again with cross-rhythms and flute/guitar embellishments maintaining the slow tempo of its predecessor.

Bo joins with the vocals again after this instrumental interlude in "Invisible Man", a haunting ballad with electronic keyboard, melodic bass and flute providing the somewhat mystical textures.

"As EWe Fade", with its acoustic and electric guitar duet, rather reminds me of SoCal's Forever Twelve. The best is left to last however in the tri-part "Hypnoteque". Startling percussion and harmonica zaps upset the smoothness of the eerie woodwind. Hand drums and sax join the fray to give a vaguely Caribbean feel to the music. The development of the suite is completed by popping, pinging percussion in the final section to excellent effect.

14 years is a long time to wait for a full album folks so snap it up while you can.

Track Listing
1) Twilight Torches
2) Down in a Hollow
3) Can't Tame the Jungle
4) Remembering Beauty
5) Third Hemisphere
6) Invisible Man
7) As We Fade
8) Hypnoteque 1-3

Added: May 5th 2008
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: New Weave Records
Hits: 2863
Language: english

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