Suffocating The Bloom


aec.cdb10105896.2 8/30/04 New
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Review Text As Frank Zappa once wrote, this is "the crux of the biscuit" when it comes to Echolyn: the time and place when things worked out for the best. The group's eponymous album was uneven but had attracted its fair share of interest within progressive rock circles. What they needed now was a rock-solid album to build a career on. Suffocating the Bloom was written by an independent group struggling to be heard but unwilling to bend under the laws of the market. Sure, their next effort, As the World -- recorded under a Sony contract -- would benefit from better production, but the raw edge and ferociousness of this album would remain unmatched. There is little weak material here (a couple of instrumental tunes, mostly). Of the first half, "In Every Garden" and "A Little Nonsense" became live classics. The Gentle Giant-like complexity of the latter (and its whimsical look at the inner child through the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) remains Echolyn's best technical showcase. Ray Weston's voice can bring you to tears in slow numbers like "One Voice" (reminiscent of vintage Fish). The last 28 minutes are occupied by the 11-part "Suite for the Everyman." If some sections relate poorly to the whole, its excitement levels up with its ambitious artistic proposition. The penultimate part ("Those That Want to Buy") provides another highlight. The intricate vocal harmonies and challenging time signatures renew listening pleasure each time you put the CD in the player. This album may not have single-handedly launched the '90s prog rock revival in the U.S., but it sure turned into a monument cherished by fans of the genre, despite its occasionally problematic availability (bootleg copies circulated during the time Sony kept it locked away in its vaults). ~ François Couture

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