The award for the most confusing name of progressive rock bands goes to My Name Is Janet, a multi-national trio. They started as a solo project for vocalist and keyboardist Jim Aviva, but when the cooperation with guitarist-bassist Eric Rauti and drummer Alexx Hedlund turned out to be a true collective effort, the solo project became the band with this rather peculiar name. With the help of guitarist Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), who became the band's producer, the chance to record their debut album Red Room Blue became a bit easier.
The opener Tower Of Babel starts with a nice riff followed by, as it seems, a variety of vocalists. This is the strength, but also the weakness of Jim Aviva; he's able to combine different kind of voices in one composition: melodic, raw, powerful, but also fascinating spoken words that sometimes sound as if he's talking on the telephone. Tower Of Babel lasts over ten minutes and contains progressive metal, oriental music and alternative rock with stunning guitar work by Eric Rauti over soft keyboard layers. Accidental Love seems like a strange mixture of the music of Primus, Frank Zappa and Living Colour with some fusion elements. The use of different types of voices works perfectly here making this piece powerful, but also freaky and with a jazzy edge. On The Powerful Waves isn't really a song I like to listen to. To my ears it sounds like rapper Eminem 'singing' over a classical theme played on an old Casio-keyboard! Luckily at the end there's some nice guitar playing that slightly improves this song.
When Cold Heaven started I was afraid that the style of the previous song was going to be continued, but after a short distorted vocal part, this piece becomes very melodic, but also electronic. Although the 'telephone voice' returns, Rauti saves my day with a tremendous guitar solo. The music sometimes resembles Bumblefoot and even Journey while World Is Still Tragic sounds as 'Rammstein meets Primus with electronics', but the melodic vocal parts shift this song in a completely different direction. This piece is definitely something special and I like it very much. Aviva's telephone voice enters again in Slave Of Solitude, an orchestral composition with a slow start, but in the end it appears to be a jewel with fine drum playing in the vein of Blackfield. In the title track we hear 'orchestral weirdness meets Primus', but with straightforward and more melodic vocals and with slight Bumblefoot-parts hidden in the song. Final song Babel refers to the album's opener and can be seen as a reprise. Many keyboard layers make this piece worth listening to for symphonic rock fans, but first you have to work yourself through biblical messages and strange vocals.
I didn't know what to expect when I put this CD into my computer and it took me several spins to write an honest review. This album contains a number of songs that I really like, so Accidental Love, World Is Still Tragic and Cold Heaven are my personal highlights. I'm afraid there's a bit of abundance as far as the musical styles presented on this CD are concerned. Besides the distorted telephone voice is used too often. However, when the second album is in line with my personal highlights then we get a killer album. For now it's just a good first effort.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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