PHIDEAUX - Ghost Story

Phideaux - Ghost Story

9 songs
50:47 minutes
***** ****

Normally I stay away from people who are directors of soap operas, and when they threaten to record CDs, I even intend to light some candles in my neighbourhood church. OK, not really, and in the end there was nothing to be afraid of Mr Xavier Phideaux, an American progressive rock artist who once released a very little known album in the early Nineties, but it now back in the new millennium by releasing at least one album every year. His excellent comeback album Fiendish can be downloaded for free at the artist's homepage, the successor Ghost Story from 2004 can be purchased for 7$, a ridiculously low sum for such an original piece of art.

My first impression was a huge interrogation mark, because the melodic music doesn't reflect any contemporary trends but shamelessly treads through forty years of musical history. The melodies are sometimes very Beatlesque, there are also theatrical antics reminding of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, the charismatic vocals owe something to a poppy Eighties Peter Hammill, and all of a sudden we are not at all surprised that Discipline's Matthew Parmenter (another American Hammill fan) is high up on the artist's link page.

Ghost Story is a progressive rock album in its purest sense. It is never aping conventions, but aims to renew our common ideas of popular music. One of my first impressions was Oingo Boingo (another band that has strong ties to the movie industry), while my brother was reminded of Todd Rundgren and Utopia.

The album has throughout very high quality, but it's the middle part (from the 3rd song A Curse Of Miracles to the long, epic 6th song Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt) where Phideaux is surpassing himself as an artist. Those songs by themselves deserve a maximum rating and are some of the finest modern melodic progressive music I have heard in a long time. Ghost Story as a whole can't uphold that same incredible quality throughout its entire running time, but it is better than most what labels release these days.

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