The Great Leap (A Celebration Of Lemmings)

Phideaux

Bloodfish, 2006

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/19/2006

Longtime readers of the Daily Vault know that I am very fond of the unclassifiable musician Phideaux Xavier. Occupying a space bounded by space rock, progressive rock and other oddities, his incisive lyrics and delightful music have resulted in two very good CDs, Fiendish and Ghost Story.

I have a rare privilege of presenting y’all with Phideaux’s first unquestioningly great CD, The Great Leap. In a truly just world, this would be the kind of music that scholars would dissect and analyze fifty years from now. nbtc__dv_250 The Great Leap, is, quite simply, the best CD I have heard this year, a brilliant, bitter, biting and breathtaking look at alienation, ecological collapse and the herd mentality. This is The Wall for the twenty-first century, and it’s only the first installment in a planned musical trilogy.

As always, the core musicianship is sold; Xavier, Gabriel Moffat and Rich Hutchins have worked together for a long time, and it shows. The presence of the various members of the Bloodfish Collective, the loose collection of musicians, vocalists, family members and hangers-on that appear on Phideaux recordings, is as always solid. Touches like the horns on “You And Me Against A World Of Pain” and the snare drum on “Last” add layers to the sound, making this a rich, full but not bloated CD.

The songs are, in a word, magnificent. The Great Leap hits you like a blast wave with “Wake Up” and never lets up the emotional pressure until “Last” fades out. Along the way, pay special attention to the almost jaunty “The Waiting” with its barrelhouse piano, the apocalyptic images, weird pipes and harmony vocals of “Rainboy,” the funky Hammond organ on “Long and Lonely Way” and the sparse ominous vocals of “Tannis Root.” There is not a single bad moment on The Great Leap; it’s solid all the way through, and leaves one feeling exhausted, thrilled and yet vaguely unsettled – which makes perfect sense given the topic.

As Phideaux sings on “Tannis Root,” “Give us your best and your bold / We’ll give them back when they’re cold” – The Great Leap takes an unblinking and harsh look at the world, and it’s not pretty. But the music is brilliant; this is the CD of the year, as far as I’m concerned.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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