After a long and self-imposed silence, guitarist and composer Adrian Jones found a great amount of inspiration, some good and some bad, upon extracting himself like billions of other humans from the claustrophobia of Covid 19 sequestration. This forced introspection rekindled a desire to compose again and together with longtime ally Brendan Eyre, they started reassembling the previous crew of vocalist Adrian O’Shaughnessy and keyboardist Christiaan Bruin and began writing material. A completely revamped rhythm section was then added to the mix, namely bassist Joachim van Praagh and Lars Spijkevet (Automatic Sam) on the percussive kit.
For those too exhausted to google the title, “Diurnal” is the opposite of nocturnal. The album has an expansive, fresh and radiant texture that hits the listener within the first seconds and keeps the brilliance on full throttle. Sonic proof comes with two opening introductions that highlight this sunny mood. The awakening of the glowing sunrise, greeted by electronic impressions of “Birds, Insects and Kites” with Adrian’s guitar buzzing like an amorous yellowjacket, as Brendan’s keyboards soar like an eagle in the sky, and where the rhythmic kites fly! “The Veil” is a brief stint in melancholic and ambient introspection, ready to face the day and come what may!
“Ghosted” is the first single and a consummate groove is set with a characteristic Nick Mason minimalism that gently rouses all the pent-up emotions that had a chance to rest. O’Shaughnessy (Aio) snatches the microphone and immediately impresses with a tone and a sense of pathos that is only accentuated when Adrian’s seductive guitar decides to duet with his vocalist. A forlorn piano blurs the space between the heart and the chirping birds. Magnificent!
The first of three extended pieces “Angel of Flies” is a modern, nearly 8-minute mini-epic, densely atmospheric with swarming orchestrations that cloud the horizons with a variety of natural apparitions, as the rhythm section conjures up a whirlwind of complex drumbeats and scathing bass undertones. Aio delivers one hell of a theatrical performance, his voice profoundly infected with gritty determination, soaring majestically to incredible elevations. Adrian Jones’ guitar scratches the underbelly with seasoned detailing as the rising plea intensifies with each passage, his guitar cutting mercilessly like a saw gone haywire. One word: gulp!
“In Remembrance” is a stark yet nostalgic classical vignette, twinkling piano and orchestrations shimmering in misty reflection. Two minutes of ritual purification. Why?
The arrival of the tectonic epic beast “Frustration -Sedation”, that’s why! Flirting with the pendulum of moods is not an easy undertaking, but the doomsday feel interspersed with contemplative thought is simply intoxicating, as the listener simply knows that the explosion is just around the bend. Aio raises the roof with an exasperated vocal performance that accuses, growls, pleads and despairs. ‘Murmuration, Stagnation, Vibration, Resignation’ are the words that ultimately lead to frustration and sedation. And yet, there is a return to a positive melancholy, ‘sweet tranquility’ and an ornate piano melody flush with hopeful salvation, ‘standing in the sun’! It has a little Stairway to Heaven feel, I kid you not! Especially when Adrian’s briefly slashing guitar reboots the dour implication of our domination, with Aio once again going ballistic, like an ICBM fuming from all its rivets! The scorching axe solo has a little Jimmy Page appeal as well, a much sweeter tone while still being crazily intense. Killer!
Another infusion of soft and soporific anesthesia is to be found on “Golden Hour”, same method but with the electric guitar twirling with the strings. Majestic! We arrive at the final extended marvel, what else could it possibly be but a track called “Dusk”! It cleverly kicks off in a similar funereal drum beat like on “Ghosted”, except the stick work is way slicker, echoing guitar slashes glimmering as the gorgeous melody builds in poignant intensity. One hell of a celestial melody, may I be allowed to add! Aio does it once again with a dynamic voice that exudes blood, sweat and tears and I feel like crying, its so overpowering! Once again, the drum work stands out as quite impeccable, formulating the two extremes of simple complexity, the bass churlish in the far corner, grinning and the plethora of alternating and ghostly details from Adrian’s fretboard, while the keys paint the dimmest dispositions. The impending arrival of the nocturnal blanket, when fatigue and weariness have taken its toll, and the pillows beckon the warrior to gently surrender into slumber. Good night, sleep tight!
All this flurry of activity has amassed enough additional material to prepare for a second release in November 2024, “Adventures in Anhedonia”, a much more personal descriptive of those pandemic related traumas and fears. “Diurnal” is set to be released globally on June 11, 2024. The three extended pieces are some of the finest this artist has ever produced. Do not hesitate on getting sonically seduced by this masterful album. Nothing worse than forgetful regret! One ot the top albums of 2024
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