PHIDEAUX - The Great Leap

Phideaux - The Great Leap

11 songs
54:08 minutes
***** ***

A lot of what is sold these days as progressive rock is anything but. We all agree that bands like Yes and King Crimson invented a sound thirty years ago that was unheard of back in the days of its creation, but when bands nowadays copy the same old pattern, we are rather in the presence of revivalist or even reactionary artists. Then there are those that are clearly inspired by the "good, old times" but manage to create something of their own.

Phideaux is among those artists, and the rave reviews he's gathering from the specialist press all over the world proves that his recipe is working just fine. The Great Leap is already the project's fifth album in four years, and a sixth is already planned to be released even later this year. That's something really reminding of the Seventies when it was not a rarity for a band to release two albums per year. The cool thing about Phideaux is not only that the quality level remains constantly high, but they also somehow sound slightly different from release to release. The Great Leap is the first part of a planned trilogy about the Big Brother state of our world and overall ecological degradation, and as a first part, it takes a rather straightforward approach, with songs averaging about five minutes each. Unlike the spacy stream-of-consciousness 313 and the epic Chupacabras, The Great Leap goes back to the typical pop song pattern that was already present on the band's first two albums Ghost Story and Fiendish. The info-card may say that Phideaux is a heavy rock band, but don't let that deter you. In fact, being inspired by David Bowie, early Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper, and given those influences, it is no surprise that Phideaux have a slightly androgynous approach to rock music, although Phideaux Xavier, the head behind the project, has a voice that reminds me this time very often of Tull's Ian Anderson.

With a dozen musicians contributing to the album, Phideaux create an exceptional warm sound that never overwhelms you with symphonic pathos. Vintage synthesizers, violins, brass instruments,... everything you ever expected in a prog band is present of The Great Leap, but used with such skill and delicacy that it never forces the song itself into the background, and that's what I call true songwriting gift.

The next album is planned to be more bombastic, and should contain only one long composition. But until that ambitious project, you should enjoy the more down-to-earth talents of Phideaux Xavier and his friends. Exceptional as always!

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