Thicket, The - The Thicket

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Self-released
Catalog Number: TTR01
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:16:00

There is no one way to describe The Thicket, as the band give us different "looks" in each track, and in some cases, within the same track, many of which meet or exceed the 8-minute mark (the shortest is the instrumental "Life On The Crescent" at 3:55, the longest, "Kuskovo (Autumn)" at 9:25). For the most part, The Thicket sound like latter period (80s-90s) Tangerine Dream, but the moment you think that, up comes a heavy, metallic, sometimes crunchy passage that brings forth another reference, and then, a moment later, we get dark, moody passages that recall Porcupine Tree or Depeche Mode (and, in fact, a hybrid of the two) and still others that recall such "modern prog" bands as Izz or RPWL (among others). And even still at other points, due mainly to the use of theremin, we get the eerie whooing heard in a number of B sci-fi films. All of this makes The Thicket a continually interesting release. As is characteristic of synthesized drums and percussion, the sound they make here has a chilly, reedy sound. But given the whole atmosphere of the pieces, this isn't a drawback, just an element.

As I said, the strongest comparison is to Tangerine Dream, and that due to the chilly, steely sounding synths, and dry, digital percussion. That The Thicket are a Canadian father and son duo of Andrei Poukhovski and Ivan Poukhovski-Sheremetyev (each playing keyboards, Theremin and vocals), only makes a TD comparison stronger, though obviously that relationship came long before the music, and would be true even if they were a country, hip-hop, or new age duo.

In a very vague way, Keith Emerson comes to mind with the classically influenced "Kuskovo (Autumn)," and yet the keyboards are much softer and more diffuse than I've heard Emerson play. The piece itself echoes Mussorgsky's "Fanfare For The Common Man" only played slower and like many other pieces here, evolves into and devolves from something less organic sounding, a digital/synth/Tangerine Dream feel taking over. Oh, and there is a passage that made me think of the late-80's period Doctor Who theme, a tart sounding keyboard loping happily along over a bubbling bass-end keyboard notes. It's here that the theremin provides a spooky B sci-fi atmosphere.

The synthy, spacey Tangerine Dream-like first track "Freefall" or the later "Canopy" little belies the first part of "Defiance," which is a fragile, mellow, dance-like keyboard and programmed drum track and which musically sounds like a digital version of Genesis' "Mama" with it's boom ? boom, boom, boom, boom, drum pattern (but not the crooning vocals). The second part of this track is quite another thing again, being dark, pounding metal complete with "death" vocals alongside the clean vocals. The third part of this is more poppy prog (a la Izz) before the digital drums and crooning vocals of the first part return.

"Sunday," another prog rock piece with multiple textures, holds a strange attraction, and mainly what gets me is this ultra-dark angry, angular, cello passage that lasts but a few seconds. But, it does underscore some deep drama. The overall feel is a subdued, electronica piece that recalls both Porcupine Tree and darker, moodier Depeche Mode, as circa Some Great Reward or a less quirky sounding The Cure. And in this multihued mix, you will also find pastoral synthy passages that lead to tense, dramatic passages with subdued vocals that recall mid-period Genesis.

"Beautiful Calamity" is a vocally warm piece that made me think of Roxy Music, Depeche Mode, and Spandau Ballet all at once ? and yet also of someone else that I can't name. The snickering digital percussion takes the co-lead with the vocals, while we also get soft, synthy passages as well as noodly "guitar" leads underneath. Actually, though a bit new wavey, it's a rather nice track, mainly due to those slinky vocals.

Layers of guitar-like effects feature in the partly shimmery, partly crunchy "Snow." They sound so natural that I had to check the liner notes again to see if there wasn't some mention of them that I overlooked, but no. None listed, and no guest.

The album ends with the dance-like "Catharsis" where swirly synths undulate in a multitude of colors, bringing forth an image of some opague gelatin jiggling in mid-air while a digital dance drum beat snickers beneath. And more theremin just to add a Star Trek effect? erm, I was thinking of the aliens just then from the episode Operation: Annihilate! (you know, the ones that looked like ? well, winged ravioli or winged jellyfish).

Though many will find the keyboards to be chilly, especially the digital drums, The Thicket is a nicely produced, well-done album that should have broad appeal among the electronic and prog folks. It shows that one doesn't have to be locked into one style in order to get a message across, or that a person has many moods.

Free Fall (4:14) / Defiance (7:05) / Canopy (4:08) / Sunday (6:58) / Kuskovo (Autumn) (9:25) / Life On The Crescent (3:55) / Beautiful Calamity (7:56) / Snow (8:01) / Wide Open (8:16) / Catharis (5:38)

Andrei Poukhovski ? keyboards, theremin, vocals
Ivan Poukhovski-Sheremetyev ? keyboards, theremin, vocals

The Thicket (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: February 9th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 988
Language: english


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