Axiom of Choice
2000 . :
With a few albums under their belt this is my first encounter with this Hungarian outfit which was named after one my favourite books, Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. The album is dedicated to their former guitar player Czgilan Istvan who died in 1998.
The album opens with the title track in three parts. Plingploing keyboards, somewhat orchestral additions on keyboards, Focus/Tull like flute and several types of vocals: classical, female African and "ordinary vocals". Janus' Agnus Dei might come to mind during the second part. Good, memorable often repeated themes and some nice variety on this thirteen minute part including Spanish acoustic guitar, a female choir, a (low) male choir and some world like ingredients, but not forgetting the more typical prog ingredients: ELPish keyboardsolo and solo guitar work. Because of the vocals you might be reminded of things like Enigma, 1492 or Era, but musically this band goes further than that. Is has to be said though that some of these vocal parts go a bit far into the direction of said projects, and the music becomes a bit too mellow. I do really like the female vocals, but the male choirs make it sound a bit trite at times. It has to be said though: the main theme really shines. The third part is more bouncy and slightly folky at first and the closing guitar solo is good. The fourth track, The Duel is the first of the completed prophecies of Nostradamus. Opening with very low vocals in Latin, this turns out to be a rather active piece with the flute and the keyboards in the lead and a melodic mellow interlude (a la Quidam). Again, very strong themes here and an organic integrated sound. Very good. The Lion's Empire is a loudly rocking song with some spacey interludes (low bass and Hawkwindish effects). Wings Of The Phoenix - Hisler (one letter wrong) is a bombastic piece, quite accessible in all and a bit mellow. 1999 - Ship Of Darkness is darker piece, especially the long hauls on the keyboard and guitar, but the percussion is quite playful as well as the flute and ELPish keyboards. After Wargames - The Third Antichrist we come to The Moment OF Truth (in two parts). A piano, the theme alternately played on guitar and flute. The second part is an thoughtful acoustic afterbirth. The album closes with a three and a half minute single edit of the twenty minute title track as a bonus track. Now I know what I'm reminded of: the soft keyboards remind me of Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise.
Warm, melodic and dark, are the first three adjectives that come to mind. The music is generally well crafted (although the second part of the title track sounds a bit disjointed at times) and the themes are admirable overall. References would be ELP (in the keyboards at times), some excursions into space rock (also in the keys) and both Tull (rocky parts) and Quidam (folk parts) in the flute. The vocals are often in "choir" and in Latin reminding me of those recent projects (Era, Enigma, but not as commercial of course) and also Janus and their Agnus Dei. A very pleasant album, that I think many people will like. Original in their encompassing of some world music features, but also their rather adventurous combination of the above into an organic whole.