Monday, 6 February 2012

P'dice Review from DPRP (Dutch Progressive Rock Page)

I like to think that advertising never sucks me in, as in “I am an individual, not a number”, and probably you all think that way too. Now take a look around your home, how many things are there because you’re familiar with them, a familiarity reinforced through endless advertising. And how many things are there because you thought “that might be good” having seen something that caught the eye on TV or Facebook or wherever.

Such a thing, if he doesn’t mind being called a “thing” is Paul Cusick who I’ll admit first caught my eye with a Facebook advert a couple of years ago along the lines of “If you like Porcupine Tree you’ll like this”, and as his first album was available then as a free download, what did I have to lose? That first album Focal Point was indeed heavily influenced by Mr Wilson’s combo, and by Pink Floyd but showed enough promise for me and a few hundred others to pay up front for the recording of this his second album.

P’dice, short for The Personal Possession Of A Random Prejudice, is a nice progression from Focal Point although the Floyd/PT influence is still there, as you would expect. With drum duties shared between Marco Minneman and Gavin Harrison it is hardly surprising that the PT and Steven Wilson influences are writ large although there is now undoubtedly a Paul Cusick sound developing that is taking its own path.

Opener Everything rocks out and is the most upbeat song on the album, Marco’s pounding rhythm propelling the thing along at a pace, before slowing to end with what will become the trademark modern atmospherics. Tears is a ballad that could be sad but is actually uplifting and puts me in mind of Peter Gabriel, until the guitar solo lifts the thing into stadium rock territory. When It Rains also has the Gabriel influence as it tells its tale of emotional loss and pain. Hindsight is a personal favourite, the three verses of personal regret being sung to a minimal background at the end of a four and a half minute song that has previously built up a cinematic atmosphere of edgy melancholia, quite a clever piece of writing indeed. A dark place is visited on Waiting as Paul and guest singer Sammi Lee sing a plaintive torch ballad about struggling to come to terms with cancer, and its terminal outcome, sending a shiver down my spine.

Paul plays everything apart from the drums, and as can be the case with one-man band style productions there are moments that lack a bit of clarity but overall the sound is well managed and suitably modernistic. Should Paul ever be able to take this on the road it will be worth a visit that’s for sure.

The straightforward lyrics deal with love, regret and pain, and a nagging dissatisfaction at the way we live in the West, be it railing at capitalism, or the lack of spirituality, or bemoaning prejudice, which is where the album title comes in. Paul has made various announcements through his judicious use of social networking media over the past year or so as to the progress of his work throughout its gestation in order to keep us sub payers up to date. All through this process I always assumed that P’dice was simply a working title as it sounds a bit naff if I’m being honest, but this was the title he ran with. A minor gripe I suppose!

Whatever, Paul is a shining example of how to use modern social communication methods to not only promote, but also to self-finance an album release, and new bands and artists could do worse than follow his example, or at the least ask for his advice. The clincher is will I be paying up front for the third album, should he choose to go that route again? On this evidence why not, as Paul shows a growing maturity in his song craft and is forging his own sound, a sound that fans of mid-period Floyd and lovers of the Kscope bands should have no problems getting into. In fact, Paul recently announced that modern independent music distributor Burning Shed will be promoting P’dice, and a more fitting home for Paul’s music would be hard to imagine. All he needs now is a contract from main Burning Shed suppliers Kscope as that label is probably where he would feel most at home, so if anyone at Kscope Towers reads this, do give P’dice a listen!

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