Review by by Philip West
There are, as an anonymous philosopher once stated, two sides to every coin. And the same theory can be applied to albums, not least when the album begins with a track as fascinating as The Turn (A Pagan Lament). This largely a-cappella introduction, in the vocal vein of the Flying Pickets, or the Housemartins classic Caravan of Love, is destined to grab the listener’s attention and grasp it tight.
When tracks follow which spin a web of depth and vocal purity, a leaning towards becoming an integral part of this experience grows ever stronger. Numbers such as The Sad Song and Red States are warm, uplifting efforts which tap into the section of the brain destined to produce an escape from the often mundane realities of daily existence.
The middle section of this album, where scope for experimentation is often at its most significant, witnesses the uplift continuing. Risa, opening with a thin, haunting woodwind melody, is an almost spiritual ode tinged with Indian-style beats. It conjures up images in the mind’s eye of meditation in a state of utter peace and stands out boldly among its musical cohorts.
The vocal melodies, although intricate, do not saturate the tracks and as such, the balance between depth and grace is struck perfectly. Additional tracks worthy and meriting high praise include the haunting, choral Moon After Berceuse, and closer Umbrellas, which is without question, the most kaleidoscopic song on the entire album. The kind of tune that listeners can lose themselves to.
This is an extremely strong and passionate album that provides many surprises and leaves an impression that will not be shaken easily. The vocal flexibility and intense atmosphere on display places Fredo Viola at least a half step ahead of the competition. Result? A thoroughly satisfying and majestic listening experience.