Here at the Background office every day, emails are coming in with requests to review music of rather unknown artists. Most of them are not suitable for a review on our website. Those people just don't play the kind of music we promote, so bad luck for them. However once in a while a very good product does reach my ears and deserves a larger audience.
This was the case with ODDITY made by Franck Carducci, an Amsterdam-based musician who moved in 2008 from Lyon, France to the Netherlands. He is a big fan of bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Supertramp and many others as he told me in an email. In this same email he also told me that he decided to make this prog-rock album after playing as an opening act for Steve Hackett in May 2010. He told me he was very lucky to have a great bunch of musicians that participated on this album, amongst whom John Hackett - Steve's brother- on flute and American drummer Larry Crockett.
While supporting Steve Hackett doesn't mean that you are a great musician and having his brother John on board for the album is no guarantee of a good progressive rock album. However Franck succeeded very well when I heard the entire debut album for the first time.
Right from the start when I played the first track Achilles, I was overwhelmed by the power of the strong opening tune. It was as if Neal Morse himself had written it. He also knows how to put you in the right mood with a musical punch in the face. After this hurricane had come to rest, the song moved to a slower pace. Excellent guitar parts done by Franck himself filled the room and his strong lead vocals began to tell the story of this Mythical figure who runs into several other persons. John Hackett's flute playing gives the music a very romantic touch.
But the music got into a higher gear after a while. The sound of a wonderful Mellotron choir brought the song to an even higher level. We are in prog heaven at last when strong synthesizer parts move the music to an unbelievably strong climax. The music of the early Genesis and Hackett albums enters when one more time John Hackett plays on his flute accompanied by the sound of an acoustic guitar. A final musical explosion almost ends the first epic piece on this album. Only some melodic playing on the 12 string guitar is heard before the 15 minutes of wonderful prog are over. Next is The Quind which started as Elton John's Song For Guy. But this lasts only a couple of seconds before the song moves towards another direction. Strong harmony vocals are heard in the introduction to a piece of music that could have been taken from Entangled or Supper's Ready both from Genesis. Pendragon and the voice of Nick Barret are next when the end of the song did goes into a more mellow mood. On The Eyes Of Age you get the idea that the music seems to move away from the prog path. Some folk and country influences seem to flourish when the sound of a violin takes a leading role. But you also do hear a bit of I've Seen All Good People from Yes when the song goes toward an ending. More up tempo and aggressive guitar parts start the second epic piece. Alice's Eerie Dream has several kinds of influences which might have been taken from a band such as Ambrosia. But the main parts have lots of elements taken from Supertramp. First, the organ parts and later on, the guitar riffs and piano parts show that a song such as Rudy taken from Crime Of The Century must have been a blueprint for this song. Also the many background voices from children and adults move towards the way Supertramp impressed their listeners. Funny was certainly the section in which you can hear a short part of a “Praise The Lord” musical fragment. The fifth track The Last Oddity starts sounding like a piece of music made by Genesis. Most of all the Mellotron parts and playing on the acoustic guitar are to blame. But after four minutes, you could recall Echoes from Pink Floyd. The same kind of organ and guitar parts from this Floyd piece are very well integrated on this track.
I had no problem with it at all because it is pretty well done. The first bonus track sounds to most lovers of progressive rock music very familiar because it is a cover taken from one of the best prog albums ever. But it has to be said that The Carpet Crawlers from the The Lamb Lies Down From Broadway is very well done. Most of all, the violin sounds very original and gives this Genesis tune a nice twist. The last track is a radio edit of a piece of music that was already mentioned. The four minute version of Alice's Eerie Dream is mainly the first part of the song on which the music sounds like Ambrosia. The song is very much guitar orientated with nice organ chords. It's great to hear how an almost 12 minutes long track can be changed into a 4 minutes radio friendly tune. I guess that it was just a gimmick to create it this way because nobody actually would believe that it will hit the charts one day or will give the album a push forward. Too bad that this will not happen because after what I heard, this album most of all deserves a much larger audience.
ODDITY features not only beautiful music, but also the art work and booklet are worth mentioning. Everything is done in a very professional way. All the lyrics can be easily read and everybody who made the album sound so strong are mentioned. Also, you can read that Franck did a lot of things himself. He provided some strong lead and background vocals and also as a musician plays very well on the keyboards, bass, electric and acoustic guitars. Also, production-wise the album can measure up with all other international releases.
So bravo to everybody involved in making ODDITY one of the most surprising releases of 2011.
Maybe the music wasn't always very original but I didn't care at all because I enjoyed every second of this album. If you don't care either and enjoy the music of the bands mentioned in this review you will certainly enjoy this release as much as I did.
Therefore highly recommended! Well done indeed.
Read the interview we had with Frack.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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