Tantalus - Lumen Et Caglio I

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Ninth Cloud
Catalog Number: NCR CD9341
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:22:00

It's like there are 2 albums in one here!

Each piece on Lumen Et Caligo I is different from the next, but they fall into 2 distinct camps: Many songs are pure AOR or light neo, while others are wonderfully textured blends of classic symphonic progressive rock with a nod to progressive metal. This dichotomy left me a little confused at first, and I was - 'scuse the pun - in two minds about the album.

The AOR pieces are simple songs, mostly with a straightforward 4/4 beat, and are reminiscent of Asia, Alan Parsons, or Hogarth-era Marillion. Good, but uninspired. The more progressive pieces have references to Arena, RPWL, Cast or even Pink Floyd, although they're heavier and more richly textured than those bands.

Caveat: Do not let the introduction to the first track put you off. It is a misleading synth-pop piece that put you in the wrong mindset altogether. Listen instead to track 8, the 9-plus-minute ?Route Thirty Six - Part 2," which is an excellent rocking instrumental piece with soaring solos, continually-shifting arrangements, and long complex rock sections. Rather progressive, very nice.

Many of the lyrics are rather typical of prog music - a bit obscure, sometimes simplistic and a bit preachy; but there are some rather different pieces with excellent lines. Go to the Tantalus web site and read the lyrics for the deliciously erotic ?Fingerpainting," and the rather bleak ?Dancing On Eggshells" which explores the dynamic between a stripper and her customer. The lines are not offensive, but I won't print them on these hallowed pages.

The band's unusual name has its origins in Greek mythology. Tantalus was a son of Zeus, who, at least in one version of the legend, tested the gods by killing his own son Pelops and serving him up for the gods to eat? they didn't bite, and instead condemned Tantalus to Tartarus where food was always too high, and the water too low? from this we have the root of the English word ?tantalize." Lumen Et Caligo on the other hand, translates roughly to ?light and dark? which is a hint at the range of music on the record, from the commercial, and lighter sounding songs, through to the more complex and somewhat darker pieces. Lumen Et Caligo I is the first part of a two CD project. Part II was due in 2003, but I don't believe it's been released yet. [July 2010: Just to update - it was, in 2004 -ed.]

Despite band's Grecian name and the album's title, you won't mistake Tantalus for anything but a purely British band. Some of the instrumental pieces like ?Harp Dance / Dig The Sod" have a pleasant Celtic or medieval flavor, courtesy of the synthesized harp sounds, recorder, acoustic guitar and mandolin; but the main giveaway to the band's Englishness is in the vocals. Bob Leek's vocals are delivered with a lazy, relaxed style, and he has pleasant if slightly atonal voice which does not dominate the underlying instrumentals.

I'm still in two minds. I'm not a huge fan of the Asia / Wetton style of AOR, but when these guys crank it up, they really rock! I never advocate listening to selected tracks and believe that every album should be listened to in its entirety as planned and presented by the artist. But in this case you could be forgiven for programming your CD player to skip those pop songs and focus on the progressive material. I would rate the lighter parts of Lumen Et Caligo I at a 3, but ?Route Thirty Six - Part 2? is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. So?

?Rating: 4/5

[Though originally released in 2002 by Headline, the band signed an exclusive deal with The Ninth Cloud label who have re-released the album completely remastered and re-packaged with a 16 page booklet and new artwork; it is the only version available. {July 2010: Ninth Cloud has apparently dissolved; CD appears available from the band's website} -ed.]

While There's Still Time (8:35) / Eyes (6:51) / Raining On the Parade (8:18) / Harp Dance & Dig the Sod (7:07) / Finger Painting (7:26) / On Dr Syntax's Head (5:36) / We're Sleeping (2:46) / Route Thirty Six - Part 2 (9:38) / Dancing On Eggshells (6:28) / Hearts 'n' Minds (4:28) / Black Dream (6:09)

Max Hunt - keyboards, programming, vocals, accordion, acoustic guitar
Gerlinde Hunt - keyboards, recorder, vocals, percussion
Bob Leek - lead vocals, 12 string guitar, percussion
Nick Beere - guitars
Jason Tilbrook - bass, fretless bass, mandolin, balalaika, 12 string guitar
Tony Wells - drums

Smoking Angels (1994)
Short Stories (1996/2002)
Jubal (2000)
Lumen Et Caligo I (2002/2004)
Lumen Et Caligo II (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: March 12th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website: www.tantalus.co.uk
Hits: 493
Language: english


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