As a bit of background to the review of this album, I was given the music but due to an “administrative error” I listened to these albums and wrote the reviews before reading the press pack properly. (Editor’s note – he means he deleted the email I sent him!!) This meant I was able to review these records without any preconceived ideas about these particular records – all I had were the band name, song titles and a picture of the sleeve.
Prog rock always conjures thoughts of bearded men wearing capes or kimonos, big banks of keyboards, flutes, hammond organs, tubular bells, spoken word sections and mandolins. Not forgetting of course to mention dodgy concepts, clever time signatures and exceedingly long songs. Basically all the overblown terrible parts of mid 70s arty rock. I have to say that generally, I love it. Like pretty much every music fan starts liking something played to them by friends, parents, older siblings or the radio, my first delve into music came via Top Of The Pops and the radio. I liked a lot of the music of my early teens (and still do) but I always wanted some more adventure in the arrangements – “why do The Police always seem to have guitar solos that fade out? I want more of the solo”. This was until I discovered Marillion and “boom” some would say it’s all downhill from there to bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater and my favourite band, Rush who were certainly guilty of many of the crimes listed at the start of this paragraph.
Moving on to the new album from D’Accord - their “cleverly” titled 3rd album “D’Accord III”. The album opens with “These Last Todays” weighing in at a prog-tastic 10 minutes and 26 seconds. Plenty of different sections and you get the feel the band also love their prog. There are shades of Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd – plenty of organ and slow moody solos. I liked nice little jazzy closing coda tops things off.
Next up is “Here Lies Greed” – it opens with a flute - checking off another of the prog clichés. The song has a decent little circular riff before the drums almost take over as the lead instrument and then back comes the flute! It shouldn’t but somehow it works. Curse them I was determined not to like this because of the flute and yet somehow I do. The track closes with someone laughing – a nod to Dark Side of the Moon, perhaps?
Acoustic guitars feature in the intro to “Lady Fabulous” but there rest of the song seems to pass you by with loud vocals and generally not much happening. “Mr Moonlight” seems to follow a similar pattern of circular riffs to “Here Lies Greed” although a nice touch is the odd bit of falsetto backing vocals, however you get the impression that despite the cleverness of the arrangements, D’Accord have forgotten about the most important bit – a melody and hook that the listener will remember.
“Iblis in Bliss” covers the bonkers lyrics part of prog with aplomb. The tune is a little more like it and is possibly the straightest “rock song” on the album. It’s also one of my favourites and I think is the direction I would like to see the band explore more in future – especially the ending guitar solo which builds to a crescendo. “Song for Jethro” starts with a mandolin based intro before the modern guitars kick in. They jangle along with an acoustic guitar line and seem to clash horribly with the electric guitar, it’s almost like the band are ticking another box by using them. Bizarre lyrics also abound (ticking another cliché): “how can I mend these stairs? When will they climb my way?” but then the songs launches into a cracking guitar solo…..before back come the damned mandolins. I saw a review of another prog band, many moons ago and I’m going to nick it for this: “Don’t like this section? Don’t worry, another one will be along in a minute”.
Then it’s on to another staple of prog – two songs named the same but with “Part 1” and “Part 2” to distinguish them. “Mon – Sat Part 1” is a reasonable enough effort (although the flute is back…) and features a cracking solo that sounds like it has been nicked straight from a Pink Floyd song and one which would have made Dave Gilmour proud. “Mon – Sat Part 2” is a more piano driven affair which also has echoes of Floyd but passes by without making much impact. The album closes with the 10 minutes and 50 seconds of “The Doom That Came To Sarnath” – not a bad song but it pretty rehashes everything else on the album that has gone before.
D’Accord have possibly more musical ideas packed into one song than many bands have on an album. Is this a good thing? Not necessarily, although it’s not particularly unpleasant, it smacks of “look how clever we are” which is an accusation often levelled at this type of music. The issue is that this is exactly what bands are saying and why not make a virtue of your musical dexterity? It would be a boring world if we all only liked The Sex Pistols, wouldn’t it?
I have to say I wasn’t a fan of the 70s sound of the recording. It was probably one of those albums which the band took great delight in saying they found authentic period instruments and used tape on a mid-70s recording desk, etc but prog bands have made great modern, sounding prog albums so why the need to make an album that it was made 40 years ago? On balance I found the album to be pretty inoffensive but not one that drew me in and wouldn’t be one to keep on the iPod.
Out of interest you might like to know what the press pack has to say about this collection:-
The third album from the Norwegian prog band D’accorD represents a variation on the route for the band. Whereas their last album, “Helike” (2011) was a massive conceptual piece - this time around - the band has gone for shorter and more diverse tracks. The impulses from the 70’s progressive sound are still there, so is the remarkable complexity in the music. But this time around, D’accorD has incorporated more rock’n’roll and a tougher edge - which are the elements for a progressive rock album with a salient variation to the songs.
“D’accorD III” was recorded at the fully analog Cowshed Studio in London, where The Beautiful South, Jamie Cullum, Boy George among others has recorded. D’accorD wanted a more authentic and real 70’s sound on this album, and the feeling of the recording is raw, real and live. All the songs on the album was recorded live with minimal overdubs to 24 tracks of analog tape, and this live sounding classic album was mixed and recorded within 10 days. Analog mastering was done at Fluid Mastering in London (Deep Purple, Elvis, Jethro Tull and more).
Review by Adrian Grainger