Dice - Within Vs Without Next Part

Year of Release: 2007
Label: Scene Records
Catalog Number: 4623
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:58:00

2007 sees another release from Germany's Dice, this time a sequel of sorts to last year's Without Vs. Within Part I in Within Vs Without Next Part. If you recall, Part I concerned itself with our inner selves? and here, it seems to reflect the conflict between that within and the without - pretty obvious from the title, I know. For example, in "More Worth Than Gold" the message is to ignore what others say, and "believe in yourself" (those others are the talking heads on TV, doomsayers, the despondent, etc.)? One constant throughout is the element of darkness - this word shows up specifically in half of the album's eight songs (including "Never The Darkness"), and is implied in the remaining four.

While the tracks vary widely in terms of the quality of the lyrics - many understood more conceptually than literally - musically what's on offer is more of Dice's brand of spacey progressive rock, and in some ways, more of the same from past releases. That is, while the instrumentation and tonal colors are different, the general structure of the pieces is consistent - languid and unhurried, characterized by expressive guitar solos and given a spacey feel by the keys, all tumbled forward by drums and percussion. It's a comfortable place, the music gently carrying you along; and yet not so drowsy as you lose attention. Although? this consistency does also reinforce its relationship to Part 1 (and yes, vocalist Christian Nóvé still sounds like Clive Nolan).

The one constant that is welcome is the quality guitar work from Peter Viertel. Although he gives over to Yugenji on three of the album's tracks, it's Viertel on the other five. When guitars aren't taking the lead, and the vocals aren?t, it?s the keyboards of Henry Zschelletzschky; the tone is often reedy and parpy, sometimes a little thin?. And not in a wispy, ethereal manner, though we do get some of that as well. And vocalist/rhythm guitarist/bassist Nóvé also contributes mellotron to the mix. Part of the "problem" with the keyboards is that the production seems too sharp, so sharp that the edges of the audio spectrum seem jagged? I'm not sure I can express visually what I mean, but I have this same feeling sometimes visually when viewing an HDTV, that edges are more sharp than one sees naturally? but this is a minor thing (and your mileage may vary on that, depending on your audio equipment).

This consistency of sound, feel, is most strongly noticed in the phrasing of the vocals, a set rhythmic pattern that can be heard in: "The Same Shadows" - a track that is a bit more psychedelic than others here, with a slight middle-eastern feel to it without it being in anyone overt; in "DICE Cosmic Blues" - spacey, and about space, in aabbccdd lyrical pattern, this piece also includes a deep-voiced ascending bass pattern that hints a bit at Pink Floyd (although this piece is otherwise more musically chirpy than Floyd). Yugenji is the guitarist here rather than Viertel, and although Yugenji lets notes linger, not quite in the same way as Viertel, as they seem a bit too bright in tone. Well-played, but not quite what I love about Viertel's playing. And we find this Dice-ness in "So Asked The Moon," too, though guitar here is more subtle during the verses (acoustic, but sounding more like a harp, actually) and acidic during the choruses; a reedy, sinewy keyboard solo is followed by an equally sinewy and reedy guitar; the pair of them solo together, and alternating for the final minute and half or so.

So, having said that there is consistency of feel to this album, there are a few times when they do break out of the mold. While not by much, one example is "More Worth Than Gold," which is a bit more proggy than space rock, the pacing a bit tighter than their other pieces. Guitar on this track is by Yugenji, which is a factor in this different feel -- though it does still feel like they're cousins to Shadowland and Arena. This piece is characterized by trade-off leads between the guitar and keyboards - the one being, direct and sharp, the latter being reedy, a bit breathy. And "In This Life" feels quite dense, claustrophobic, the instrumentation being almost on the same level as the vocals, the vocals almost being buried. By the time the song is drawing to a close, however, things improve greatly; not the piece is awful, but it gets stronger and more interesting, I guess I'd say.

Another track that breaks from the Dice pattern is "Never The Darkness" - light, echoing percussion (like amplified water drops) starts us out; subtle keyboards hum atmospherically, allowing only the occasional note to be heard in full? strummed guitar; sparse, almost whispered vocals, and brief instances of parpy keys intersect in this very dark and moody piece?. which lasts all of 2:42 - no soloing (in fact, neither Viertel nor Yugenji play on this track, so I'm guessing the guitar is Nóvé).

And to touch upon two other tracks: "The Ladder Of Dreams" has an acoustic, folky beginning, but this gives way to the expected spacey, dreamy atmospheres. It's not the strongest of the album's tracks, even though it features some nice soloing from Viertel. And it ends with a moody, dark and subtle atmospheric? segment, not long enough to call it a phrase. The epic is the closing "Without Vs Within, Pt. 2," which is a continuation of the track on Part 1 and has a tinge of an old world feel coming from the reedy keyboards (perhaps it's the mellotron).

So, well, yes it's another Dice album and you wouldn't mistake it for something else. Where the band shine, and I've said this before, is in the instrumentation, which, despite the sharp production and reedy keyboard tone, is quite rich at times. There's a lot to hear in the extended soloing/instrumental passages, enough that you'll forget that the vocals sound samey. And Dice make this all so pleasant and comforting to listen to, even with dark subjects, that in the end it is quite entertaining and well worth a listen.

More Worth Than Gold (8:00) / DICE Cosmic Blues (9:30) / The Ladder Of Dreams (6:09) / In This Life (8:43) / So Asked The Moon (7:57) / Never The Darkness (2:42) / The Same Shadows (6:33) / Without And Within, Pt. 2 (10:17)

Christian N?v? - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, mellotron
Henry Zschelletzachky - keyboards, background vocals
Alexander Klimentov - bass, background vocals
Thomas Bunk - drums, background vocals
Yugenji - guitars (1, 2, 5)
Peter Viertel - guitars (3, 4, 7, 8)

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: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: August 13th 2007
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.dice-band.de
Hits: 1135
Language: english


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