Almost as if it was recorded for an alternate soundtrack to Logan’s Run, this is one of those albums that would make you go and read you sci-fi books along with this album compose and conducted by Phideaux Xavier certainly takes a darker approach to unbelievable uncharted territories to set the course of a new planet. As the band members are space cadets, Xavier is the commander in chief, creating epic compositions with a few twists in the sections to go with. The band’s new album, Snowtorch, is one of those finest albums to be released at the right time at the right place for the year of our lord, 2011.
With this year being a return to the darker territories of the art rock sound for TV composer Phideaux Xavier and his fellow comrades, Snowtorch is one of those fine albums who have been waiting to hear the late ‘60s and early ‘70s sound of the glory days of Psych and obscure progressive rock. As the two epic that clock in for 18 and 15-minutes long, Snowtorch is a mysterious adventure into the darker side of life. With the sounds of acoustic guitars, Phideaux and Valerie’s vocals, moog synthesizers swirling in the twister, soaring mellotrons creating a haunting disturbing territorial boundaries that would have listener’s go batshit crazy, it looks like I’m beginning to become a fan of Phideaux’s music as of right now. To me, Xavier is the new Peter Hammill of the 21st century.
As Snowtorch is the darker science-fiction rock opera, some people may scratch their heads thinking “what the hell is this?” There’s the beautiful female vocalization in moments on the album to hear including the homage of Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets on Helix which is a wonderful track that Valerie Gracious does, but I wish there was a duet on the track where she and Phideaux can sing on the track. Now does that say I hate the song? Absolutely not! It has a calm after the storm and lukewarm feel on the ballad and melodic organ which would have been recorded at a dark and gothic cathedral, but needs a little bit of work as if Phideaux was trying to finish the album in a huge rush, but it’s one hell of a track right there.
And also don’t forget the last track, “…” Now some of you are thinking, “why would Xavier do something like this?” Well he wants to surprise the listener and give sort of medieval rocking finale that has almost a dance beat and very much in the realm of Gentle Giant’s Octopus-era. As violinist Ariel Farber does an Irish jig on the violin as if she’s dancing to Phideaux’s composition, she lets him know that she doesn’t miss a beat while Phideaux does a folksy acoustic fingerpicking finale to set the tone of the closing finale that really has audiences dancing, laughing, and having a good time.
Now is Snowtorch a great album? No, but what he does is that he would take a piece and brainstorms to decide where the direction would lead to. Xavier knows the score and Snowtorch is one of the albums that would have your mind blown into a wonderous adventure that you’ll never take your headphones off when you listen to this. The melodies and the structures are so damn perfect, you would want this in your prog and psych collection. And again, Phideaux is the new Peter Hammill and the band is the next Van Der Graaf Generator.