Tuesday, February 06, 2007

There’s a saying that “misery loves company”, but this 10-track collection of progressive rock and blues-oriented music is really too good to share, hence my lengthy delay in writing about it.

Second Sight's CD title is a bit misleading, too, as even the darker songs convey a range of up-and-down musical emotions. Fans of classic rock from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush and Captain Beyond should be very impressed with these all-original compositions, but there are a few tracks that will also appeal to fans of heavier jazz-blues fusion rockers like Steve Vai, Robin Trower, Jeff Beck and The Scorpions, although I have no vocal comparisons to offer.

The line-up, hailing from the Gatineau and Greater Ottawa area, consists of drummer and vocalist Mike Séguin, bassist Pierre Rouvroy, multi-instrumentalist Serge Thériault (acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, special vocal effects), vocalist Steve Fleet, and Don Cright (electric guitar, dobro and vocals). None of them are rookies, either. These guys, solidly entrenched in the musical influences of their youth, have studied the masters and pay homage to them accordingly. In other words, they’ve got “stuff”!

The CD opens with an anthemic instrumental electric blues called “Blue Rainbow”. It grabs you by the you-know-what and holds you in sway for a full six minutes, reprising itself somewhat unnecessarily and twice over at the end, but it’s still an excellent track.

“Paradise Woman” is a hardcore rocker with a funky underlay to it, composed solely by Don Cright, the main songwriter on the CD, although Serge also offers his own work (“Satan Swing”, “Night Over Bagdad” and “Fumier”) in addition to his collaborations.

“Satan Swing” is a bass-heavy, multi-textured instrumental that incorporates a sporadic jazz-funk shuffle into the overall psych-rock feel, while the straight-ahead rock ballad, “Into the Fire” (with lyrics by Steve D) has a sinister but mystical Middle East edge to it. Not content to repeat the same musical refrains over and over, the band keeps your attention with subtle variations in rhythm and pace, always held tightly together by the solid groove of the rhythm section.

“Night Over Bagdad” naturally has a mideastern flavour to it, as well, that begins as a lighthearted foray with chiming guitar licks utilizing a psychedelic-surf technique and then morphs into a hard-rock opus.
Although I have no big problem with the vocals on the CD, when present, these guys are obviously more into playing their instruments than exercising their lung-power, which is to their credit, as that is where their forte lies.

“Soulless Children” does feature the vocals, I’m presuming, of Don Cright, who wrote this memorable rocker, keeping it short and simple at just over three minutes in length, but with a cautionary observation regarding the prevalence of youth violence.

One of my favourite instrumental tracks is “Fumier”, which vaguely borrows from both Led Zeppelin’s “Hots on for Nowhere”, as well as Rush’s “Subdivisions”, but it actually carries off its own unique identity.

The title track, with lyrics by Steve D again, is a slightly ominous Black Sabbath-like opus that features alternating and background vocals by different players, although they are not identified specifically. One of the vocals has a slightly nasal, choppy quality to it, but, again, the complex instrumentation is the thing. This is the track that recalls the Iron Butterfly offshoot, Captain Beyond.

“Roll Over King Tut” continues in the hard-driving mystical hard-rock guitar vein, and the drumming and bass lines, while fantastic throughout, is unleashed with classical fury – another instrumental scorcher!

“Choices", a dynamic hard-rock blues-shuffle that ebbs and flows in tempo and intensity, closes the CD perfectly.

There’s nothing miserable about Second Sight’s music, and I look forward to hearing more from them.For information on how to purchase your copy of Misery, email Don at tremor@capitalnet.com.

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