Cerebus Effect - Acts Of Deception

Year of Release: 2005
Label: independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:34:00

This is one of four reviews in a series, beginning with Shrouded Unity - Crossing The Line - ed.]

Closing out Maryland-week - reviews of 4 bands from my home state - is Cerebus Effect. Acts Of Deception has been a challenging album to write up because it's been a very challenging listen. There's no pop, AOR or Neo here - this is industrial-strength, hard-core jazzy art-rock.

This may be an odd way to describe music, but let your imagination run for a moment: Once upon a time Magma invited King Crimson to play a backyard gig. Crimson agreed - but only if they could invite some guest artists to join them on stage. They played aggressively and the gig included an early King Crimson lineup, Dream Theater stood at stage-left, Djam Karet was on stage right, and National Health came on stage after about every 4-or-so songs. And in the audience, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum showed their approval by nodding in time to the music - with their heads bobbing at some of the oddest meters they'd heard. Can you imagine the sound you'd hear from that gig? No? Well describing Cerebus Effect's sound on these pages is like trying describing color to the blind, but I hope you get the idea. This is hard-fusion meets jamming jazz meets RIO meets progressive art rock. It's all played on classic-sounding instruments that you'll rarely hear played this way - they must be literally smoking after each performance.

Unlike their two previous pure fusion EPs, Acts of Deception is harder-edged, more technical and orchestrated, it is longer than them both put together, and this one has vocals. There are tightly composed passages, there are jazzy jam sessions, it is enormously complex, and there's a lot of controlled chaos; and it's performed by musicians who pull it all off with the panache of a quartet of angry geniuses.

Acts of Deception is primarily instrumental, with keyboardist Dan Britton contributing vocals to just two tracks. Note that I didn't say "singing." "Identity Crisis" has Britton doing a sort of hard-rock takeoff of a Gilbert and Sullivan style - it's a fast-paced chattering in a gruff voice, breaking into a strong melodic higher pitch from time to time.

The standout track is the 11 minute "Operation Midnight Climax" - a progressive epic that runs through shifts and changes so quickly and smoothly you'll have difficulty keeping up. It is a heavy piece that features an acoustic guitar solo, tons of '70s-styled electric piano, and those unusual vocals again with some lyrics in a foreign language that sounds east European. A masterful piano section at the end plays against a strong but simple riff and yields the floor to the mournful wails of a Mellotron. Very impressive.

Thankfully, there are 2 laid back, more elegant tracks to give you time to catch your breath, and I felt there were a few tracks that were aimless jam sessions whose sole purpose was to showcase the band's collective musicianship.

In 11 tracks these guys pack more into 53 minutes than many prog outfits do in a lifetime. You'll probably have to spin this one again and again to "get it." But you'll probably want to spin it again and again.

<< Previous

Y (7:19) / Identity Crisis (5:09) / Dark at the End of the Tunnel (1:25) / Illusions (3:34) / Of Mortal Constraints (3:02) / Operation Midnight Climax (11:22) / Nine Against Ten (6:38) / Neutrino Flux (2:50) / Fine Lines Between Science & Art (2:58) / Unconsoled (3:04) / W (6:10)

Joseph Walker - electric guitar
Patrick Gaffney - drums; electronics
Dan Britton - keyboards; acoustic guitar; vocals
Mike Galway - bass

Dark Matter (2002)
Live At Orion(2002)
Acts Of Deception (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 29th 2006
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website: www.cerebuseffect.com
Hits: 1826
Language: english


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