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Where Echoes End - By The Pricking Of My Thumb

Artist: Where Echoes End
Title: By The Pricking Of My Thumb
Label: self produced Beaks Ahoy 001
Length(s): 72 minutes
Year(s) of release: 1998
Month of review: 05/1998

Line up

Eddie Katz - keyboards, bass, sampling, sequencing, vocals, cymbals
Paul Read - keyboards, sequencing, sampling, vocals, guitars
with help from Mark Rachelle.

Tracks

To the enlightened man:
1) Disengage...disengage...disengage 4.00
Endless forms most beautiful
2) Ripples On A Stagnant Pond 3.26
3) Life As Animation 3.29
The face in the mirror
4) Inventor Of The Invisible World 4.40
5) Terra Incognita 3.54
6) I Tell The Truth, Even When I Lie 2.38
7) Opinions Divided 5.06
8) A Cast Of Thousands 2.07
9) Only In War 3.33
10) Our Lowest Ebb I And II 8.51
11) Our Lowest Ebb III And IV 7.19
12) Syndication I 3.24
13) Syndication II 4.05
And Oh how we long to escape
14) Trust Me 2.44
15) I'm Here But I'm Not All There 3.08
16) A Stranger To Reason 3.01
17) The Human Condition 1.52
18) Ad Infinitum 2.01
Wild imaginings:
19) Reengage...reengage...reengage 2.40

Try a sample of the album in MP3 or RealAudio

Summary

A professional package arrived on my doorstep. It turned out to be this Australian based band with their debut CD under this name.

The music

Aragon is not the only recent progressive band from Australia it now seems. The music of this band however differs widely from this well-known neo prog band, being both ethereal, esoteric and reminding one of the experimental side of King Crimson and pointing fingers at Robert Fripps Soundscapes. The tone is set with opener Disengage Disengage Disengage with soundescapist eerie sounds, vocals in the back and once in a while a loud plodding drum. On the next of the in total 19 tracks, the sound is tribal with references to that other esoteric Australian band: Not Drowning Waving. Arabic vocals in 4 Science vs. religion in Terra Incognita with filmic atmospherics. Often long drawn synths and tingeling piano like parts. The themes is well crafted and well-structured and connected. Soft classical flute like passages are combined with tribal drums in I Tell The Truth Even When I Lie. In Opinions Divided, Freud is the subject. Especially the majestic stringlike passage just after the middle is great and rather surprising. In Our Lowest Ebb, the longest track on the album (8.51) is about the bombing in Oklahoma City, while the continuation of the track is about the killings in front of abortion clinics. Lots of news thus on this album. Things that the makers of the album probably thought, shouldn't be forgotten. They give no opinions, just soundmaterial of the events. On Syndication the music becomes decidely more rhythmic and with the added female vocals makes it sound like ambient house. To dance to there's quite too much change in the music. We end Part III of the CD with vocals from around the world, heavy percussion and heavy droning sounds, alternated with soft laments. In Part IV and V we get more of the same with again some slight house leanings, but always tasteful and we end with Reengage Reengage Reengage, the counterpart of the first track.

Two last remarks: why use this front side of the booklet when so many beautiful artwork is locked up inside? And please do not use these very variable fonts again inside the booklet. It makes everything so unreadable.

Conclusion

The most striking fact on this album is that the tension is so well-dosed and built up along the seemingly randomly connected bits and pieces. Not really random of course otherwise I could not have made heads or tails (hats or tales?) of this album. But it seems I can and as a whole it is a musical adventure that can be heartily recommended. The texts that are used and read to the listener give information on various historical and metafysical concepts and for some will be interesting to hear or at least broaden some views. The music is more important in my opinion where the music is mostly keyboards and synths with some percussion. The melodies are generally very good and the tension is well-built and held, while the general atmosphere of the music is the one of the film soundtrack, so it certainly not is run-of-the-mill progressive, but if you liked Gabriels The Passion, Not Drowning Waving or dark soundtracks (and because of this slightly classical stylings) in general, this is the place to look.
© Jurriaan Hage