PHIL JACKSON - all instruments
Total time - 58:12
Urban Productions, NYC
Progressive rock recording artist PHIL JACKSON exhibits a very healthy appreciation for classic analog synthesizer tones, and is a modern master of these good ol' venerable sound sources. There's no clue in the dimension of miracles cd credits as to whether he's using genuine, vintage synths, or digital reproductions of them - but it sure SOUNDS like real Mini-moogs and Oberheims!. I could swear the most modern synth on the album is a DX7!.
This being said - there is an enjoyment in listening to music made on older, analog instruments that is not there when all the sound sources are digital (as is sadly the case in most rock music made today). There's just something warmer, more "real", more "pliant", more "dimensiona"” for the ear to grab on to with analog - and this helps make listening to PARADOX ONE a welcome treat.
Phil also plays some interesting guitar (more on this later) and offers a touch of both spoken word & singing vocals on DIMENSION OF MIRACLES. His synth bass playing is especially powerful and well-executed throughout. Most of the tracks groove to a simply, but effectively, programmed drum machine.
DIMENSION OF MIRACLES consists of three main musical pieces:
A. TRAGIC REALM
B. DIMENSION OF MIRACLES
C. QUARTER'S MASS
Each piece is divided into several named movements.
This listener senses a certain purposeful "stream of consciousness" or "randomness" to the structure, sequence and progression of the cd's movements, and how they relate to each other on this album. Most seem to come out of left field in relation to what has just come before; and more often than not one cannot tell what they have in common sonically, programmatically or thematically with preceding movements. Nor do the parts seem particularly connected to their wholes.
Which is kewl - and which is why I'd like to review the tracks on DIMENSION OF MIRACLES in a way that reflects my immediate impression of the listening experience.
A. DIMENSION OF MIRACLES
1. "Entering the Dimension" - Cascading Moog-like arpeggios, sparkling Oberheimian octave ostinatos and the fat, lush sound of analog synthesizers/string/brass patches. The purity in tone of a few clear oscillators! Sparse themes simply & elegantly presented - a fanfare of an opener!.
2. "Dimension of Miracles" - deep & pounding swing rock - fondly remininiscent of early Gentle Giant ala "3 Friends" era - spiced up with an electronica hip-hop touch of spoken word - (am getting flashbacks of "I am yourself!" computer/droid voice from ELP's "Brain Salad Surgery").
3. "The Carmodic Personality" - I can't find "carmodic" in the dictionary! Now Phil is jamming on a cool blues rock progression with improvised synth solo (great bass line too, by the way) - Ah! - the joy of "playing with yourself"
4. "From the Void" - Phil chills down to a soft, smooth Latin mood/groove - (am expecting Sade' to start singin' any moment! ) here's a very human touch on the laid back Fender Rhodes solo - BAM! Breaks into a tuff & punchy blown-out rock bass riff (I'd love to sample that bass sound!) I've ever heard - WHOA! - classic B3 Hammond organ in OVERDRIVE! Now he's murdering the keyboard as a coda... he's... choking it.... It... slowly... dies...
B. TRAGIC REALM
5. "I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream" - hmmmm.... Something "Pink Floydish" going down here - spookily - the synths mimic the cries of a human voice - a cacophony of bell chimes...
6. "Majesty" - sounds like the organ at Westminister Abbey - appropriately REGAL music ala the title - some new kind of "Water Music"? - is morphing into a... yes... a Cha-Cha! - am getting visuals of a sashaying Queen Elizabeth groovin' down the aisle at yet another Diamond Jubilee!
7. "Tragic Realm" - BIG, BAD, HEAVY BASS RIFF ROCK intro with rockin' synth solo improv (this may be my fav track!) - plus overlaid cacophonous spoken word effects ala Crimson & Floyd- (wherein you don't understand the words, but get the meaning nonetheless) - very trippy.
8. "Alien Harvest" - "Music Concrete" noise - MORTON SUBOTNIK flashback (this should be in Quad!) into a cool ostinato drone/power anthem as good as Crimson's "RED" - and suddenly returns to weirdness - more trippy dubbed in human voices - shades of Beatles' "Revolution #9".
9. "Big Brother" - Aha! I hear a guitar... .with the pre-amp maxed out - hmmmm - I hear the queak of strings... could this actually be a fuzzed-out ACOUSTIC guitar!?!? Very interesting riff - sort of "Captain Beefheart meets Fracture"... SNAPS into a trashy punk/southern rock pop hybrid type tune "Big Brother" .
10. "The Road to Osiris" - This complex movement is like a whole little symphony of movements unto itself. The music starts as a return to the glistening synth arpeggios as in the cd's irst track - then into a slow funky groove - kinda “random sampler-like riff - into a fast, pulsating movement featuring one of the sickest, spookiest solo synth tones I've ever heard - with haunting, choppy chords that almost seem to talk = into a ghostly, fading coda like the end of Holst's "The Planets" - very unusual chords.
C. QUARTER'S MASS
11. "An Inheritance of Dormant Faculties" - an ungodly march - overdubbed spoken word references to the dark ages - of some ancient horror...
12. "Imps and Demons" - Appropriately impish and demonic in character - featuring a truly sick Fred Frithish type guitar solo. Phil Jackson's guitar tones are so "over-the-top cooked" as to be indescribable - am guessing there is no guitar amp here - just lined-in and BLOWN OUT - to great effect. SUDDEN switch to dark, soft, oddly disturbing mood music - there's some kind of hideous, hammering industrial sound in the background - a synth solo decomposes before our eyes... we hear whisperings from the Quatermass Trilogy....
13. "Return of the Godz" - More marching... soldiers marching?....like those guards in the Wicked Witches Castle in Oz... or is it us - marching inexorably to our own cosmic doom? Now the march seems more like tribal drums - tribal chants - we are dancing around the bonfire on King Kong's island (!). Enter now a cycle of different heavy guitar solos trading off riffs -
14. "Quater's Mass Final Movement" - The beat is now even MORE crunching - MORE plodding & ponderous - the army of simpletons (us?) marches off to war. The final battle of Armagedon against a Lord-of-the-Ringsian foe! The Masses trudge ever on!
15. "Spaceship in the Sky" - an afterthought - a post-script - a "denoument" if you will; in the form of a short, simple folk acoustic guitar song - as was Paul McCartney's "Her Majesty" at the end of Abbey Road - though here is much more "Sid Barrett" in spirit and effect.
And there you have it. DIMENSION OF MIRACLES is PHIL JACKSON who is PARADOX ONE. Phil is a Keeper-of-the-Flame for a very special, dearly loved and nearly-lost form of rock.
His intuitive & definitive mastery of analog synth art-rock should get him beknighted as a living national treasure in his native England - the country where progressive rock was born, where it blossomed, and where it found it's greatest expression. Luckily - we foreigners can enjoy him too.
PARADOX ONE cds are available via Neurosis Records (firstname.lastname@example.org)
URBAN PRODUCTIONS, NYC
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