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Album cover

Persona Non Grata - Fine Art Of Living

Artist: Persona Non Grata
Title: Fine Art Of Living
Label: Cyclops CYCL 139
Length(s): 49 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2004
Month of review: [02/2005]

Line up

Neil Randall - guitars, vocals
Bruce Soord - keyboards, bass

Tracks

1) A Thousand Julys 5.49
2) It's Not How You Play The Game, It's Whether You Win Or Lose 4.27
3) The Only Person I Hate More Than You, Is Me 4.19
4) Lament For Mayer 5.10
5) Parfait Amour 7.29 MP3
6) Russians Satellites 2.55
7) Gliders (Water Machine) 8.38
8) Beachlife 4.59
9) I Wish That I Knew What I Know Now, When I Was Younger 4.42

Summary

This band is in fact Vulgar Unicorn, but for some reason they decided to change the name. In some reviews they are probably still labelled as that. However, the booklet makes clear that they are now called Persona Non Grata.

The music

The album kicks of right on with the sharp opening guitars in A Thousand Julys. From this we move into a lot more quiet, tranquil even, section to build up for the return to the fast paced guitars. We do return to the tranquility, which slowly floats us out. Despite the hard guitars the track does feel progressive.

The energetic guitar returns full on in It's Not How You Play The Game, just the same alternating with the slower sections.

The Only Person I Hate More stays low on the guitars, or at least comparatively so, and is more dreamy. Only in the verses does the guitar push forward. During the bridge-turning-out-climax the verse theme is taken up a note, intensifying for the finale.

Lament For Mayer sounds very sad, starting of with piano solo, joined by tormented vocals, near whispered at times and to the point of crooning. This is quite a change from the tracks before, but for some reason this near sentimental track works out well enough between the other far more sharp stuff.

Parfait Amour slowly works up the appetite for the faster guitars, thus making the change over from its predecessor bridgeable. The track does have something of a dreamy feel, too, letting the tension built up through the previous tracks abate a little. Only several minutes into the track does the strength come into the track building towards the bridge towards the finale, this time picking it up real big with over the top vocals.

Russian Satellites is very much a piano etude. Once again surprising but working within the whole. The melody is not too fast, with some quick spurts along for measure.

Gliders fully returns the alternation of the sharp guitar sections with passionate vocals and the slow atmospheric sections, their melancholy a bit reminiscent of the French electroguys Air. The track's afterbirth Water Machine is guitar vocal, a bit melancholic too slowly letting the piano take over to move into Beachlife. The vocal section of this track is more directed towards pop, but the memory of this is pushed back by the guitar lick picking up energy bringing in tension pacing towards the a climax.

The closer in a piano vocal melancholy reflects on what was, after the vocal section adding in synths before finishing off with the piano.

Conclusion

This album manages to blend in guitar rhythms that are more noise directed than progressive, without losing the prog feel. But then again, Porcupine Tree has done so too on more recent release. Apart from the guitars is the dreamy feel so often present in post rock. The result is an incredibly energetic album with big mesmerizing melodies, making this into one of the top releases of the year.

© Roberto Lambooy