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Qwaarn: Aberrations

Here's an unusual progressive-rock project. Spearheaded by drummer François Bernatchez, Qwaarn isn't just the name of a band with members rotating in and out as needed; it's also the main character in the sci-fi-meets-real-world story spanning Aberrations and its predecessor, 2004's The Word of Qwaarn.

While some of the Canadian band's influences from that debut album remain on Aberrations (including Genesis and Yes), the new disc is being billed as a "pop-gressive" record by its label, Unicorn Digital, with echoes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Tears for Fears and The Cure. Didier Berthuit often sings with a heavy accent, and his lengthy carnival-esque soliloquy on "The High Muckity-Mucks" grates after only a few seconds (even though it's meant to be satirical). Guitarists Antoine Bernatchez and Martin Bleau, however, evoke David Gilmour on tracks like "Privilege" and "Dream in Am," and their warm, acoustic material also helps set Aberrations apart from some of the other artists on Unicorn's roster. While the Middle-Eastern flavor of the murky alt-rocker "Mr. Lotto" unveils another side of Qwaarn, the epic "Did You Say Salmon?" proves this collective is first and foremost a progressive-rock band. A bit of an odd progressive-rock band, but a progressive-rock band nonetheless.

Track Listing:
1) Privilege
2) Meeting Kim
3) Dream In Am
4) Mr. Lotto
5) Did You Say Salmon?
6) The High Muckity-Mucks
7) Talking to Flowers
8) It Will Be Fine
9) Fore
10) Aberrations

Added: December 26th 2007
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Unicorn Digital
Hits: 2788
Language: english

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Qwaarn: Aberrations
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-12-26 07:06:51
My Score:

Hailing from Quebec City, Quebec, the French speaking province of Canada, comes the traditional Prog-Rock outfit, Qwaarn. Very much in the vein of '70's Prog-sters, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Yes and even Peter Gabriel era Genesis and Fish era Marillion, Qwaarn are big with spatial tapestries and avant-garde textures, and the latest CD, Aberrations (Unicorn Records), led by drummer François Bernatchez, continues the theme of revolving band members.

The 10 track Aberrations is a true Prog Rocker's record, complete with odd vocals over different percussion and multi-layered instruments. To be honest, vocally I have no idea what they are talking about in much of the songs. They seem to be singing in circles & lost me very early on. They do a great job of seemingly speaking of nothing. I have no clue what these French Canadians are getting at!

Overall, the CD is a strange listen at best. From the Asian beginning of "Mr. Lotto", to the 8 plus minutes of "Did You Say Salmon?", I was somewhat lost on what Qwaarn were trying to say. The quirkiness of this record makes this for diehards of overlooked '70's Prog bands or for the '80's Neo-Prog movement faithfuls only. A few listens will help make this more palatable, but you must have a taste for this type of Prog Rock in the first place.

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