Frameshift - Unweaving The Rainbow

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Progrock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 79:30:00

The great thing about being a consumer with a limited network is that you usually have to find out about what's going on by yourself, and much of the finding out is serendipitous. So it was that, while I was doing some research on Dream Theater, I came across the press for Frameshift and Unweaving The Rainbow. I was surprised to learn about the Frameshift project, and immediately ordered the album. I received my CD in the mail just over a week ago and I haven't listened to much else since then.

Frameshift consists of Henning Pauly (Chain) and James LaBrie (DT, of course) with a hefty assist from Nick Guadagnoli and Eddie Marvin. Unweaving The Rainbow is Pauly's concept project based on the written works of Dr. Richard Dawkins, a neo-Darwinist (huh-what?), and written specifically for vocalist LaBrie. Each song deals with some aspect of evolution, from genetic mutation and DNA to the co-evolution and flight, and incorporates a boatload of modern rock and film soundtrack elements, both of which lie well within composer Pauly's realm of expertise. His deft combining of progressive elements, electronic loops and treatments, and familiar rock and pop forms has produced a fine album that is thought-provoking, accessible, packed with great hooks, and highlighted by what may be LaBrie's finest performances to date.

If you're a fan of the big vocals harmonies of Queen and Yes ? or just vocals in general ? then you'll go nuts over Unweaving The Rainbow. Pauly's precisely choreographed vocal charts permit LaBrie to explore the limits of emotional range and create huge walls of sound by using layers of overdubbed harmonies. Every song features a bravura performance from LaBrie, from soft, plaintive solos to huge choral passages to counterpoints and rounds a la Yes, Queen, Gentle Giant, Spock's Beard, and even 10cc (remember "I'm Not In Love"'s big vocal orchestration?). Pauly also "treats" LaBrie's vocals in spots to good effect; in "Arms Races" and "Cultural Genetics," LaBrie's voice is manipulated to reinforce the scary, visceral aspects of each song.

And, although this is LaBrie's tour de force, the music must not be overlooked. Pauly, Guadagnoli, and Marvin are extremely talented musicians, and their efforts are truly equal to LaBrie's singing. All work together to create the appropriate atmosphere for each topic, in a dazzling array of forms. Acoustic balladeering ("Above The Grass ? Part 1"), techno-looped speed rock ("The Gene Machine"), soulfully funky riff metal ("Spiders"), AOR power ballads ("River Out of Eden," "Walking Through Genetic Space," "La Mer"), jaunty happy-sounding pop ("Your Eyes"), it's all here, and that's not the half of it! "Nice Guys Finish First" reflects Yes' ? particularly Jon Anderson's ? fascination with the Caribbean sound and big vocal arrangements. For B3 lovers, "Off The Ground" really gets things going with its Emerson-meets-Kansas riffs and Leslie-drenched chords. My personal favorite is "Walking Through Genetic Space" which features LaBrie's acapella vocals and lush harmonies, Rush-style guitar arpeggios (a la "The Oracle" from 2112), and Pauly's elegant piano in an emotive power ballad that inspires intimate slow-dancing (yes, dancing!) and ends far too soon ? a prime example of AOR done right!

But, in the end, it's not just LaBrie's vocals or Pauly's songs that make Unweaving The Rainbow great album. Instead, Unweaving The Rainbow transcends the sum of its parts to provide an eclectic, rocking experience that should satisfy even the most discriminating progressive rock listeners, one that needs to be heard to be believed.

Above The Grass ? Part 1 (0:43) / The Gene Machine (5:32) / Spiders (4:13) / River Out Of Eden (5:40) / Message From The Mountain (9:56) / Your Eyes (2:56) / La Mer (5:54) / Nice Guys Finish First (5:43) / Arms Races (8:33) / Origins And Miracles (5:06) / Off The Ground (5:49) / Walking Through Genetic Space (4:07) / Cultural Spaces (4:23) / Bats (3:58) / Above The Grass - Part 2 (6:51)

James LaBrie - vocals
Henning Pauly - electric and acoustic guitars, bass, synthesizer, piano, B3, Warr guitar, banjo, hand percussion, loop programming, orchestration, engineer and mixer
Eddie Marvin - drums
Nik Guadagnoli - additional bass, guitar and Chapman Stick

Unweaving The Rainbow (2003)
An Absence Of Empathy (2005)

Genre: Progressive Metal

Origin VA

Added: January 27th 2004
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website:
Hits: 1342
Language: english


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