Dice - Without Vs Within Pt. 1

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Scene Records
Catalog Number: 4622-3
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:08:00

Space is a state of mind.

Dice enjoin you to take a trip through that inner space.

Without Vs. Within Pt. 1. What do they mean? It's philosophical and spiritual. The space outside ("without") is a metaphor for the space inside ("within"). It's not a linear concept album, but each is a commentary on the basic theme. All suggest that we, the human species, have within us the means to reshape the future. And that with faith (the spiritual aspect), we can unlock those means. Well, in a nutshell; you just might read something a bit different. It's a non-specific kind of spirituality that Jon Anderson (Yes) does so well. He may have a particular belief system in mind, but you don't need to share the specifics to share the concept.

Musically? You need listen but once to know that the band's spacey sound - both in structure and effect - lands squarely in the space rock genre. Aside from the space-traveling metaphors, the arrangements are so very? well, spacey. It's vast, open, floaty ? full of star-stuff, if you will. There is no sense of hurry here, as everything is played in a languid manner, even as we get impressive, and sometimes fleet-fingered, fretwork from lead guitarist Peter Viertel. And despite the extended length of most of the pieces - something to which no prog fan is a stranger - they are propelled by a keen sense of a direction. They don't seem aimless -- perhaps they being vocal tracks helps in that. However, Dice are stronger when they are purely instrumental, which these are pieces mostly are - the longer ones at least. It's their interplay that will keep you coming back to this album.

The signature, key element and the best part of this really great (though not quite perfect) album, is the spectacular guitar playing of Viertel. He can launch into a sparkling solo right along with the best of 'em. Just listen to his very classy solo that ends "The Hope Has Died Forever," for example. When he's not soloing, his often shimmery tone provides atmosphere (along with keys). Viertel's playing style falls somewhere between Gilmour (and his adherents) and Rothery (and his similarly influenced brethren) -- beautiful, soaring, emotive, expressive ? all that and more. Guitar only moves a step aside when Christian Nóvé sings. Although I've said it in previous reviews, Nóvé often sounds uncannily like Clive Nolan, which makes Dice sound sometimes like a space-rock version of Shadowland (in "Brainstorming") or a space rock version of Arena (in "Without Vs. Within").

An exception in the guitar department occurs in the title track, which is a mellow, somewhat breathy piece that has a slight old-world accent at times. But it's also a showcase piece for Viertel - his soloing here more targeted, tighter, more "precise," a sharper instrument.

That isn't to suggest that the rest of the band are just support players. The second lead instrument would be the keyboards (Henry Zschelletzschky). In "Brainstorming," where the journey begins, they are wheezy, a description that only approximates what it sounds like -- thin, reedy, chilly - and seems to cast aspersions on the piece and Zschelletzschky's playing. I'm not, but it sure does reflect the dry coldness of space. It's a highly atmospheric, mellow piece, that also includes hazy swirls of sound (keys again), like a fog drifting in and about -- well, more like drifting in and about a nebula -- and a brief organ solo, both "warmer" sounds. Two-thirds of the way through, guitar and piano-like keys dance a lyrical duet. Speaking of drifting, at times you sense the sonic equivalent of moving through space -- imagine the streaking stars as seen in the in-warp effect in Star Trek (any edition) or maybe the effects at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey as Dave is finding ? whatever it is he's finding. Of course, these are the visual representations that your brain is making? its brainstorming.

This wheezy keyboard sound returns later in "Dark Flowers," here almost sounding like a harmonica. The dark, throaty, heavier "Questions & Answers" is leavened by light, soaring keyboards, that seem almost too happy (and parpy) in contrast to the rest of the track. Overall, the piece seems awkwardly arranged; the darker atmosphere calls out for vocals that aren't quite as upbeat sounding as they are here. Though it is in "Falling Star," the last track, where the keyboards really get the spotlight as it is here where they are most prominent. Drums and bass provide the rhythmic glue that takes each piece from beat to beat (emotional beats I mean, though of course, literally beats as well), drums getting coming to the fore in the opening to "Without And Within."

In the beginning of "The Hope Has Died Forever," we get sad-sounding soloing, Viertel's guitar crying with a sweet, melancholy sound. Unlike like "Dark Flowers," which sounds gloomy overall, there are only certain tones and textures surrounding the guitar that are moody. It is a pessimistic piece yet it sounds brighter than the more optimistic "Dark Flowers," despite the latter's bit of a surf twang (though I'd hardly characterize it as a surf tune - far from). As alluded to, the message in "Dark Flowers" is more hopeful than that in "The Hope Has Died Forever," which might be evident from the title, but I was thinking more that it makes you wonder if the "hope" in "DF" -- for example, in the image of seed planting, which you can take both literally, figuratively and metaphorically, has been an empty gesture.

Finally, drums (Thomas Bunk) and bass (Nóvé) provide the rhythmic glue that takes each piece from beat to beat (emotional beats I mean, though of course, literally beats as well), drums coming to the fore in the opening to "Without And Within."

This is a really great release, with a couple of? less than really great aspects. Like Nolan, Nóvé isn't a great vocalist, though I do like his singing in most cases. I do find that "Questions & Answers" needed a bit more work, though it has some great moments - as I said, it's a bit awkward though. But this are minor things compared to the rest of the tracks and their fabulous playing.

Brainstorming (8:19) / Dark Flowers (9:04) / Without And Within (13:13) / Questions & Answers (6:02) / The Hope Has Died Forever (11:46) / Falling Star (10:29)

Christian N?v? - lead vocals, bass, rhythm guitars, mellotron
Henry Zschelletzschky - keyboards, background vocals
Peter Viertel - lead and rhythm guitars
Thomas Bunk - drums

1979-1993 (1996)
Live 1983 - Rauhe Konzerte (1996)
Nightmare (1997)
Space Rock Live (1998)
Silvermoon (1999)
Dreamland (2000)
2001 - Dice In Space (2001)
Waterworld (2002)
Cosmic Prog - Live (2003)
If The Beatles Were From Another Galaxy (2004)
TIME in Eleven Pictures (2005)
Without Vs. Within Pt. 1 (2006)
Within Vs. Without Next Part (2007)

Cosmic Prog - Live (DVD) (2003)

Genre: Psychedelic/Space Rock

Origin DE

Added: March 18th 2007
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.dice-band.de
Hits: 1373
Language: english


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