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Rebel Wheel, The: Diagramma

Ottowa's The Rebel Wheel are back with their sophomore release, Diagramma, a modern progressive rock offering that hints at the greats of the 70's but also has its feet firmly planted in the modern scene. Made up of David Campbell (Guitar, Vocals, Bass and Keyboards), Gary Lauzon (Bass, Synth, Bass Pedals), Paul Joannis (Guitar, Keyboards, Occasional Drums), and Alain Bergeron (Drums, Keyboards, Vocals), The Rebel Wheel prove that they know how to create dark, atmospheric, and moody prog here, as well as dish out the crunch and fusion factor when necessary. The opening cut "Threads" is a vocal piece with heavy guitars and complex arrangements, sounding a bit like Rush at times, and they move into almost Genesis or Tangerine Dream like territory on the short and ominous "Three Valley Gap". The epic title track is a complex burner, again with hints of Rush as well as Gentle Giant and ELP. This one features bombastic bass lines, stabbing synth passages, and intricate guitar riffs. This one moves around quite a bit and keeps the listener guessing what's coming next, as they bounce from heavy, symphonic parts to almost lush pastoral setttings highlighted by acoustic guitars, Mellotron & Hammond tones, and warm vocals. Lots of good electric guitar interplay going on during certain sections as well, with the bass and drums taking part in plenty of counterpart alongside the raging analog sounding keys. Honestly, this CD is worth hearing for this piece alone. The short instrumental "Tempra" is a quirky & complex progressive fusion piece, with unison guitar/keyboard/bass lines, like a strange mix of Gentle Giant and Brand X. You'll wish it was longer, trust me. The closing number "Hiding in Waiting" is another vocal song, a dreamy prog number that has its moments (especially the haunting, Genesis influenced middle section with its jagged guitar solo, spooky keys, and rumbling bass lines), but otherwise fails to really go anywhere. Overall, this is a very solid release from this ensemble from Ontario. Next time around I'd love to see them release more stuff along the lines of "Tempra" and the title track, and put together a full hours worth of music.

Track Listing
1 Threads
2 Three Valley Gap
3 Diagramma
4 Tempra
5 Hiding In Waiting

Added: April 24th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3439
Language: english

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Rebel Wheel, The: Diagramma
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-04-24 18:00:41
My Score:

Ontario-based The Rebel Wheel has a heading on their CD-Baby page describing their music as Modern Progressive Rock with elements of Neo, Rio, and Fusion.

Fusion and modern prog, yes. RIO? Maybe - at a stretch. But Neo? Nope - not at all. This is modern prog that doesn't easily fit any of the sub-genres. Its key characteristics are the prominent percussion and strong bass lines, and its complex structures.

With a vocal track, an instrumental, an epic, another instrumental and another vocal, it's well balanced. Track 4, "Tempra" is an interesting all-instrumental fusion piece that showcases the band's musicianship. Listen for the unusually tight lead/bass guitar lines. Very interesting. There are vocals in tracks 1, 3 and 5 - but this is not song-oriented music. The singing is rare and restrained, held back in the mix, soft and withdrawn with a bit of reverb yielding a relaxed Floydian / Porcupine Tree effect.

The standout piece is clearly the 21-minute title track "Diagramma Suite". This is a restless, ever evolving piece that loosely recalls Echolyn in parts. It ranges from an energetic proggy intro through soft ballads to nimble jazzy sections, to complex Crimsonesque rock, and many other styles ... and ends with the opening theme, now played with an elegant proggy synth and bass guitar. It is rich in complex guitar riffs, laden with atmosphere, and the performances are as tight as a drum - and that track will probably end up being one of the songs of the year - and definitely one of the best epics of the year. Heck - you could set your CD player to repeat that track over and over and it could keep you rocking happily for hours.

The packaging is eye catching, straightforward and sparse on information, the production standards are solid if not not spectacular - and the music shines through nicely. And there isn't a note of Neo to be heard.

Get it for the strong musicianship. Get it for that excellent epic. Get it for the intelligent songwriting. Get it.

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