Phideaux - Snowtorch
20 March 2011

01. Snowtorch (Part One)
    1 - Star Of Light
    2 - Retrograde
    3 - Fox On The Rocks
    4 - Celestine
02. Helix
03. Snowtorch (Part Two)
    1 - Blowtorch Snowjob
    2 - Fox Rock 2
    3 - Coronal Mass Ejection
04. .

Every time I've tried to put something down about the latest Phideaux album Snowtorch I seem to have hit some kind of a block. It's not that I don't like the album. On the contrary, I like it very much. It's just that I seem to have trouble finding ways to describe the music of a band whose creations I've written about already on three occasions. You might think it's a sign - a sign that the band have failed to come up with something interesting enough. However, it's not so.

So, those of you who want to get the genre tag, discover in mild horror and disappointment that it's progressive rock and be done with it, be done with it. There's probably no chance of converting you with this record. Again, not because it's not good. Those of you who have heard Phideaux before need no introduction, and have most likely already heard and appreciated it anyway. If not, be assured, it is every bit as excellent as any Phideaux album to date. To the rest of you, this here is conceptual progressive rock at its very finest that might take a couple of listens to fully unravel but is well worth the effort.

Now, let's get to it. Snowtorch is almost a monolithic conceptual piece of music. It's worth noting that by my reckoning it's the shortest Phideaux album to date clocking in just under three quarters of an hour. Which only works in its favour. It's more to the point, so to speak. However, it does take quite a while to take off and can seem to drag on in the beginning. Or you can interpret it as starting off nice and slow and then gearing up. Although, gearing up is probably not the right choice of words as it's not made for speed.

In some ways Snowtorch may happen to be the most thought out Phideaux album yet from musical perspective. It relies very heavily on piano, not just keyboards, which to some extent seems to have been made the central instrument of the album, providing a very distinctive melancholic atmosphere. And while I like Phideaux's vocals, I totally love the instrumental passages this time around. Firstly, because of the piano - its pure sound is so very refreshing in a way. Secondly, because of the nature of these said passages.

Instrumentals on Phideaux albums have always served the purpose of advancing the theme of the song itself. I don't recall it ever being about soloing, although here and there there are some brilliant solo spots, take the saxophone in the last minutes of the first song as an extreme example. Stunningly on the spot performance, that one. But on the whole, it's still a part of the greater theme, slowly moving on.

Snowtorch flows as an album. In some ways it's reminiscent of the slow waves at sea. Nothing abrupt, just gradual ebb and flow. And it feels complete. Once you reach the end, you feel like you went on a small journey and came back home happy, a complete trip without hiccups. Which may very well be a weak point of the album. It flows just a bit too well and you tend to forget yourself in it, drift away and lose focus.

Band profile: Phideaux
Album: Snowtorch


Written on 02.11.2011 by
I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.
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Introspekrieg - 03.11.2011 at 21:12  
And there you have it, I was having a hard time describing this album myself. Great job, a album like this deserves such a well-written review. It a truly a beast of an album, a hard pill to swallow on the first few listens that eventually rewards.
R'Vannith - 04.11.2011 at 08:13  
Enjoyed this one more than anything else I've heard from Phideaux, very pleasant album. Good to see a review for it.
BloodTears - 04.11.2011 at 12:00  
I've been wanting to listen to this album properly for a few months now. The right time still hasn't presented itself. I remember I listened to it once a long time ago. This review motivates me to try again.
Susan - 04.11.2011 at 15:45  
I LOVE this album. Thanks Ivor for reminding me to go back and appreciate it.

''However, it does take quite a while to take off and can seem to drag on in the beginning. Or you can interpret it as starting off nice and slow and then gearing up"

I go with the second option; I never feel a drag in this music, just that it eases you into its goodness. Extra props to the vocal performances, too! Soulful
Troy Killjoy - 06.11.2011 at 00:03  
I checked out one of these songs on Youtube a few days ago before I left...wasn't impressed, although I enjoyed it more than anything from Heritage.
mz - 17.04.2012 at 21:21  
Just got familiar with this band and i have checked this one and Doomsday Afternoon. both albums are really great and Snowtorch is my top 10 material from 2011. i just feel that this album is criminally short

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