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Diagonal: Diagonal

Diagonal
Diagonal
Rise Above
2009-01-27

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.

RATING 4 / 10
PopMatters