Darling - D2R

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Darling/Drums Productions
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:07:00

Hal Darling's second release, D2R, is dark, moody, and brooding in overall tone and atmosphere. Even when the arrangements themselves are a mix of bubbling, rumbling, tumbling rhythms that recall Tarkus period Emerson, Lake and Palmer ("Clown On Fire," "Aggressive Biological Behavior," "Dog Dreams"), the sense of foreboding, of doom and gloom hangs on to nearly every song. These pieces are intense flurries of keyboards, drums, and guitars. Even while we get fiery and energetic workouts, a la Planet X, and an avant-garde, angular nature, a la King Crimson, it is neither sunny nor bright. Even when we get classical arrangements ? the gentle and sweet, sad, almost funereal grand epic sweep of "Where Seraphs Despair," for example (which recalls Vangelis), or "A Breach Of Species One Through Five" -- there is that darkness. And yet, it is this very nature that makes D2R attractive. It may recall depression, but it doesn't make you depressed. The arrangements sparkle with electricity; the shadings and nuances bring you back to listen again and again. It plays out like the soundtrack to something, but nothing linear ? the movie you create while listening will be convoluted and disjointed, and yet, you will come out of it with an understanding of something? "An Unsettled Score" is, perhaps, the most cinematic of the 12 pieces; certainly in scope ? close your eyes and create your own movie. Whatever action you have taking place, it must be set in the dark, maybe even raining, and must be in black and white, or gritty, grainy colour. Intense and dramatic? epic?

But for all this urgent energy that Darling (percussives and keyboards) with guests Uri Gatton (electric, acoustic and MIDI guitars) and Athan Gallis (woodwinds, brass and MIDI horns) cook up, there are softer moments as well. "Black Rhyme" is a sinister, gothic track with a church organ [credits say pipe organ] sound just to provide the right atmosphere. On the other hand, "Prom Vomit" is lovelier than its title would suggest, as we get a bit of urgent jazz brought forth by xylophone-like tones, played in a rhythm that? well, that reminded me of Tears For Fears (something from The Hurting, I think; "Mad World"?) and The Police ("Walking In Your Footsteps") and, strangely enough, the intro to Yes' "Changes." It's a frantic, churning, yet chiming like sound.

It's not a conventional suite of music ? the artists mentioned above are touchstones. And Hal Darling has taken these elements, conscious or not, and made them his own. In fact, look at the references as convenient sign posts. Though the Emerson aspect to Darling's sound is the strongest, Darling doesn't attack his instrument with the same ferocity, and yet elicits a similar effect. Don't expect, by the way, given my mention of Emerson, any chirping Moog sounds, or anything that you can say, "ah ha! He lifted that from that passage in Tarkus. It's not quite so concrete. And, in fact, I haven't even checked to see if those references are mentioned by Darling as influences ? mainly as to not "taint" my own assessment. Of course, I'm sure Tears For Fears and The Police references are just me ? you may not think of them while listening to that track, except that I planted that seed. Sorry.

D2R is a CD for those who love the cinematic, epic quality of music. It's a CD for those who love music that is strongly felt and expressed. Dark though it may be, the journey it takes you on is well worth the trip. Excellent CD (though some of the synthesized instruments are a little chilly, it keeps with the atmosphere, I think).

Addendum: When Darling sent this CD to me to review, some months after I published Keith's review, I put Keith's review out of my mind entirely so as not to be swayed. So, looking back at it now, having put my review to bed, so to speak, I see that, eerily, he and I have said the same thing, or near enough.

Clown On Fire (4:48) / Black Rhyme (4:50) / Prom Vomit (2:36) / Where Seraphs Despair (3:32) / Rope of Sand (1:50) / Aggressive Biological Behavior (6:27) / An Unsettled Score (2:51) / Run (6:30) / Dog Dreams (2:46) / A Breach of Species One Through Five (0:40) / Mr. Smith Shows the Children How to Smoke a Cigarette (4:41) / Asunder (6:56)

Hal Darling - All manner of percussives and keyboards

Special Guests:

Uri Gatton - All electric, acoustic and MIDI guitars

Athan Gailis - All woodwinds, brass and MIDI horns

Darling (1996)
D2R (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 6th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.haldarling.com
Hits: 959
Language: english


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