Universal Music Canada – Release Date: 10 June 2014
Three years ago, when reviewing The D Project’s previous album ‘Big Face’ (qv) – I suggested that, along with Mystery, Stephane Desbiens and his bandmates were carrying the torch for French Canadian progressive rock and it would be interesting to see where they took it next.
Fast forward three years and here’s the answer.
‘Making Sense’ is the band’s third foray into the studio and I have to admit to being a tad disappointed with the direction they have taken.
It’s not that ‘Making Sense’ is a bad album, far from it, it just feels like the talent they obviously possess in bucket-loads has not been put to its best use in the headlong rush to produce something ‘different’.
I say different, given that there are more obvious influences here than you could shake a stick at, but the inclusion of way too much saxophone (sax has never really sat well with Prog) and the occasional breakdowns into discordant avant-garde nonsense become more than a little wearisome, particularly at the front-end of the album.
The guest list on the album may point towards the reason for this – keyboardist Guillaume Fontaine from avant-progsters Nemo and jazz saxophonist Giovani Orteaga both feature prominently.
And things don’t get off to a great start with opener ‘Rearview Mirror’ which has the sludgiest heavy guitar riff that even Black Sabbath would have left on the cutting room floor and which leaves Desbiens shouting to make himself heard over the mayhem.
Things pick up with the very ‘Floydian title track which could be a shoo-in for DSOTM’s ‘Eclipse’ until it breaks down into an overblown sax solo with some screaming guitar over the top – please make it stop…
The avant-gardery reaches its zenith on ‘No One Here Is Innocent’, where a pleasant enough Anathema-alike opening descends into a primordial swamp of free-form jazz bollocks with everyone doing their own thing with no regard to musicality whatsoever – the album’s avant-garde zenith but musical nadir.
The final four tracks though are straight out of the top drawer.
‘Missing Star’, despite its somewhat trite lyrics, is an excellent piano-led ballad, ‘Spanish Castle’ superbly reveals Desbiens’ acoustic guitar prowess, ‘Dagger’ could be Marillion at their best and closer ‘Out Of Range/Out Of Line’ is a progressive rock tour-de-force again with Desbiens’ this time electric guitar dexterity to the fore.
So, a real curate’s egg of an album really – in equal parts brilliant and irritating.
If the band can accentuate the positives and ditch the negative experimental jazz leanings the next album could be a belter. If not, I fear niche-market obscurity beckons.
Review by Alan Jones
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