FEARFUL SYMMETRY: Louder Than Words

William Blake, Were You Mad?

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And if so, were other seers and prophets?

Fearful Symmetry:  Suzi James (guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, Jeremy Shotts (lyricist, backing vocals, bass guitar), and William Blake (mad? genius? spiritual center at heart of this album).

For better or worse, the ideas of William Blake-

Born: Nov 28, 1757, Soho, London, England
Died: 12, 1827, Charing Cross, London, England
Occupation: Poet, painter, printmaker-

welded into lyrics by Jeremy (with Suzi’s help), are key to the concept of this work.

A PhD wouldn’t hurt

That is to say, deep.  Very deep.

And I said, “for better or worse”, since the strength and the challenge of this album is that so often the music serves the lyrics.

Of course, lyrics provide a framework upon which to hang the often stellar music.  At the same time, these can constrain- and it seemed to me, Blake would have found this tension of essential importance.

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I kept noting ‘sophisticated’

“Cerebral”, “refined”.  And in the margins, “Too cerebral?”  Because the music serves the lyrics, are we listeners forced into an intellectual exercise?

There’s one instrumental piece, track 6, “Damn, braces; bless relaxes.”  And it’s clear from instrumental interludes within the tracks, that especially Suzi- and certainly all involved- are versatile and fine musicians.

These include:

Sharon Petrover (Project RnL, Square To Check, and many others) – all drums.

Yael Shotts (Volition) – vocals on ‘Form And Substance’, ‘Rule Of Reason’, ‘Orc And Luvah’, and ‘City Of Art’ & backing vocals on ‘Louder than Words’

Ray Livnat (Project RnL, 2for6, Anakdota) – vocals on ‘Ceaseless Strife’.

Ian Stuart Lynn (musician, composer, film-maker – http://www.ianstuartlynn.uk) – vocals, piano, soprano sax, strings on ‘Innocence’.

Ben Azar (Steroid Puppets, Yossi Sassi Band) – second guitar solo on ‘Rule Of Reason’

Matthew Rutherford (actor, singer, musician) — double-bass on ‘Innocence’.

Amanda Truelove (London Symphony Orchestra) – cello on ‘Innocence’.

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The Music

Sometimes orchestral, cinematic, keyboard-centric; other times guitar-driven.  Sometimes melodic and lush, other times playful- especially track 2, “Form and Substance.”

There were wonderful passages led by soaring guitars, singing synthesizers, and growling Hammond organ.

Jazz-tinges were noticeable; I thought “Innocence”, track 3 illustrated this well.

Vocals

Yael, Jeremy, Ray, and Ian took lead vocals, and others provided backing vocals, so there was a variety on display.  Harmonies were liberally sprinkled throughout, and these were well done, clean vocals.

There were times I wanted some passion, as most of the time it seemed to me the vocals were saying the lines first and foremost- again serving the lyrics.

I wanted some fire, along with the sophistication.

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In sum

A cracking good debut with lyric-heavy content, sometimes brain-straining concepts, and a lot of fine musicianship.

Fearful Symmetry link:  Band website

Progressive Rock Fanatics link:   Facebook group

 

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