As if Paul Cusick wanted to commemorate himself, I stepped at one of his promo cards lying in the photographers pit at the Düsseldorf Concert of Dream Theater. The target audience of these progressive metal giants are quite smilar to that of this British guy. With his new Album P'dice (released in January on his own label Q Rock Records) he is fishing in the pool of the progressive and hard rock fans.
With the last notes of Dream Theater barely out of my ear, I listened to Cusick's album again. One impression disappeared very quickly: That this man from York has produced an old school hard rock album. At best only track one called "Everything" is an uptempo track without further adornments.
The concepts that Cusick develops, continuing on from track one, will provide friends of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Pink Floyd or Riverside with great joy. Definitely outstanding is in this case the long track "Borderlines". This song eases itself along for four minutes with keyboard and guitar soundscapes before the single meloncholic guitar sets the tone. In this kind of bluesy song, Cusick's voice is laid back, emotional and reminds me vocally of the softer songs by regional bands like Fury in the Slaughterhouse.
Cusick continues with this soft theme: "Tears" by definition is not a cheery song. "You know" then starts with noises and drumbeats with hints and overtones of world music, but then the guitars get rougher reminding me a bit of the mood Steven Wilson conjured on Porcupine Tree's "Fear of a Blank Planet" or the EP "Nil Recurring". Subsequently "Hindsight" and "Feel this way" are sparinly orchestrated and once again very melancholic. This atmosphere remains until the end of the album, when Cusick, as an exception, shares the microphone with Sammi Lee in "Waiting". This song owns a short but intense reverberation into "The Human Race". A ambitious Album with a pensive keynote.
There's another overlap to the crowd of the Dream Theater concert. Cusick invited prominent musicians to record the instruments he cannot play himself: the drums. To be precise: Porcupine Tree Drummer Gavin Harrison (three Songs) and german Marco Minnemann (played with Nena among others). Minnemann not only sat at the drum kit for Steven Wilson's recent solo tour, but also applied for Mike Portnoy's vacated job with Dream Theater. Mike Mangini finally got that job.
My thanks to translations from Björn Magdans and Dennis V-Derfort