Frameshift - Unweaving The Rainbow

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

If I told you I'd heard a genre-defying mix of prog-metal and symphonic rock that addresses a body of scientific principles, you'd probably roll your eyes and say this experimental prog stuff has gone too far. But the man behind this project is an accomplished musician and the vocalist is Dream Theater's James LaBrie, and this unlikely experiment works!

Henning Pauly of Chain grew up in Germany, and studied at Berklee where he graduated summa cum laude. He wrote and produced Unweaving The Rainbow with James LaBrie in mind. It is a theme album, with each song based on a section of Richard Dawkins's books on evolution. And beware ? the subject matter is very complex.

When I think of modern progressive metal, one of the first things that enters my mind is the sounds of James LaBrie. So while reviewing this music I had to constantly remind myself to view it purely on its merits, rather than as a prog-metal piece. You have to listen to this music on two very distinct levels ? the vocals and the instrumentals. Pauly's instrumentation moves from metal to hard rock to symphonic prog and back again. The singing ranges from metal to power ballads to an interesting overdubbed choir of LaBries singing in unison. There's an occasional disparity between the instrumentals and the vocals that took some getting used to.

A look at who plays what will assure you that this is a Henning Pauly project. Several artists contributed, mainly on drums and Chapman stick, and Prog Rock records boss Shawn Gordon played keys in a one track guest appearance. But Henning plays electric and acoustic guitars, bass, synthesizer, piano, Hammond B3, Warr guitar, banjo and hand percussion; as well as handling loop programming, orchestration, engineering and mixing. As talented as Pauly is, I missed the interplay between separate musicians with different personalities and emotions and idiosyncrasies and so on. The instrumentation is very busy and there's little space here ? you're up against a wall of sound in almost every passage of almost every track.

Some of the earlier tracks feature instrumentation that I couldn't easily reconcile with the vocals, although I felt the quality of the pieces improved as the album progressed. Imagine LaBrie's emotive wailing over a synth-pop rhythm with staccato keyboard passages. But having said that, most pieces are strong, and "Arms Races" is a personal favorite. It is a moody 8-minute piece with big changes in tempo and some of the longest instrumental passages on the album.

Although Pauly's instrumentals are rich and varied, this album really revolves around the vocals and it highlights just how talented LaBrie is. He was given a lot of interpretive latitude, and all 15 tracks for Frameshift, plus 3 for an upcoming double album rock opera set for release in March 2004, were recorded in an intense 2-week session of eighteen songs in thirteen days with just one day off. The complex and catchy melodies of Unweaving The Rainbow are a perfect showcase for his interpretations and his stylistic range.

A friend whom I consider to be an expert on progressive metal warned that this CD requires many listens before it even begins to make sense, and he was right. But he also said it was closer to classic Dream Theater than their newest release, and I can't agree with that. Unweaving The Rainbow will have equal appeal to fans of symphonic rock, neo, and progressive metal. It features James LaBrie; but that does not necessarily make it metal. If you listen closely you'll probably hear more Yes than Dream Theater in this music.

Whether you love this album or you hate it, you can't deny that it conveys one clear message: Henning Pauly is an artist to be watched closely, and we can expect big things from him in the future.

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: February 9th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 890
Language: english


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