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Diagonal

Diagonal

(Rise Above; US: 27 Jan 2009; UK: 20 Oct 2008)

As hirsute as Fleet Foxes and as noodly as Soft Machine, these Brighton, U.K.-based prog revivalists bring notable chops to the table on their debut CD. With two guitarists and two keyboardists (not to mention the saxophone/clarinet/flute player) out front, there’s plenty of solo space to go around, which is no surprise considering that only five tracks comprise the disc’s 45-plus minutes. As you might expect, these are multi-part pieces made up of distinct movements; it’s to the band’s credit that they’re sewn together with nary a visible seam. Instrumentally, the septet strives for—and often succeeds at—evocative passages both heavy and mellow, but the vocal sections tend toward a faux psychedelicism that nullifies the overall momentum. Indeed, the disc is a frustrating blend of promising directions—like the ambient interlude near the finale of “Pact” and the noisy freakout that concludes “Child of the Thunder Cloud”—and tired tricks (phased drum solo!) that doesn’t quite substantiate the effort.

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