Who is the band? What was the inspiration behind this album?
“In the attic of his grandfather’s house, boxes with books were piling up.” “Rummaging in those boxes, young Nicolas Chapel found "Demian" by Hermann Hesse.” "I was six or seven at the time", the French all-rounder remembers.” "The character of Max Demian was fascinating to me, expressing his thoughts freely in a way I was not able to express myself at the time.” “When searching for a name for my music, I wanted to name the songs, they are my little Demians", Chapel explains. "They help me understanding my place in the world".
“On the highly praised debut "Building An Empire“ (2008), all Demians stem from the brain of Nicolas Chapel, who played all the instruments himself and produced the record in his own bedroom.” “The album received a surprisingly positive echo in the press and among his fellow musicians.” “After creating a real live band with Gaël Hallier on the drums and Antoine Pohu playing bass guitar, Chapel went on tour throughout Europe multiple times, including tours with Anathema and Porcupine Tree”.
“Following these successful beginnings, and having been an introverted loner most of his life, Chapel then decided to take some time off of this sudden exposure.” "The making of the live band started taking over my life, so I wanted to go back to why I had started making music in the first place".
“It's in Normandy, north western France, that he found the perfect place for creating at peace, in a house near the sea.” “Locking himself up, Chapel once again recorded the album by himself.” "This time I wanted to get my own sound. I chose only real instruments, there are no samples on "Mute". I played the cello, double bass, violin, drums, piano and a lot of guitars.” “With only real instruments the record has more character.” “I was not afraid of trying things that were new to me".
"Swing Of The Airwaves" is a song that deals with the idea that every human is an antenna, receiving and transmitting information throughout his life, making everyone unique and yet a part of the world.” "Feel Alive “deals with the numbness, and the anger of wasting your time because of something out of your control.” "One of the songs I'm most proud of is called "Hesitation Waltz“, a huge crescendo starting from very quiet vocals and drums, and ending in a wall of guitar feedbacks with pounding drums until the very end.” “It's my way of putting in a song all the everyday noise everyone experiences, human contact slowly disappearing from everyday's life”. “I hope that while listening to this record, people will mute the noise of the outside world and find some sincerity back"(Source: Demians MySpace, 2010).
What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. Swing of the Airwaves – The synthesized sound of a car alarm and the grinding of a sole electric guitar sets the stage and opening for this complex album of songs. It is my first experience with this band, but definitely not my last. This album rocks…and rolls. The blasting cap thunder which follows the ‘car alarm’ sound is dynamic and full of power. The guitar roars are almost as thunderous as those mighty drums. I like the bold vision of all of us being transmitters, sending and receiving signals throughout the world and growing and changing from those connections. The music is big and bold, “Standing at the edge of the world, I still fail to see what’s out there for me.” “Screaming at the top of my lungs…is there anyone out there listening?” The theme reminds me of Queensryche’s Anybody Listening, and this song is as hard as the edge on Empire. The choruses remind me of some of Frost’s work. Not bad bands to be compared with. But the softer side of the song adds Demians original touch. The epic up front, where it belongs.
2. Alive – This song rushes to a start with slicing guitars and kicking drums as Nicholas opens with “I won’t ask you why you’re not smiling.” “Let me draw the lines of this world falling down.” “While you cry and you soar on your glorious road.” There is allot of life in this one. No instruments are spared. Drums, flaring guitars, and bass. A rocket ride that moves fast. Then suddenly it slows down before picking up again. Nicholas’ screams pierce the air as the drumming and soaring guitars launch towards the end of the song. “If you really want to look beyond this wall, wait here for the punch line.” Then, “unleash the wolves” at full vocal volume. Inhale before playing this one…but don’t forget to exhale.
3. Porcelain – Synth sound effects and slow keys along with guitar and percussion effects to open. Subdued and slow, Nicholas opens with, “Show me what I been missing all this time.” Piano, keys and percussion sound effects surround as Nicholas sings with the drums, bass, and guitars joining in. Brilliant guitar solo to the vocals, “keep your eyes wide open.” Then some awesome cutting guitars and Nicholas raises his voice to match the growing volume. A nice break after the first two fast paced songs.
4. Black over Gold – My favorite song on the album. Full piano and Nicholas almost whispers the vocals, “Secret, buried safe and sound.” “Tell me stories of thorns and crowns.” “ You said all of this would be mine.” “It doesn’t matter much to you or to me.” “Whether we die on the land or on the sea.” “Sun will shine a thousand rains will fall.” “Immerse me and all I know.” “What is untold is worth all the gold in the world.” This is an incredible song. “Shimmering in silver dots.” “I hear a siren calling my name.” “She says, choice is always yours.” Just piano and voice for most of the song until it climaxes with big bold piano, drums, bass and guitars…perfect.
5. Overhead – Acoustic folk sounding guitar and Nicholas, “They strive to be far too gracious.” An Arabian beat with soft padded drums and strings as the song builds. A danceable song that will have you up on your feet. Then the speed picks up and Nicholas screams the lyrics as the drums, bass, and guitars join in an almost Led Zeppelin Kasmir sound. “Now I know one day will come, we'll walk as one under the same sun.” “Raise your head up, forget the jury, become the rain and come dance with me.” The instrumental section is worth every minute. One of the best songs on the album.
6. Tidal – Screeching, distorted guitar before drums and Nicholas vocals screaming the lyrics again. “When you throw me the stone, listen for the ripples the curls you will carelessly spawn.”
Muse - like keyboard synth effects fill the background well. The screeching guitars blast back in with the support of power bass, and solid drums. “Your world’s upside down.” “Carry the fire inside you.” “The colors we unearthed are slowly turning blue.”
7. Rainbow Ruse – Bold piano, almost single finger keyed, before the big bold grinding guitar takes over. Then cool acoustic guitar, with the piano keying in the back ground while a lone guitar grinds with bass and drum support. Nicholas voice ‘grunge – like’ then switching back and forth to normal. “Quick to judge me, yet so slow to understand.” “Quick to judge and anger on what lingers on.” A song full of effects that never gets boring. The guitar solo at the end is on fire until the acoustic takes back the stage for a short time and then surrenders to one final bombastic grinding guitar, piano key synth and drum assault.
8. Hesitation Waltz – This one opens with soft padded drums and grinding synth effects and what almost sounds like Jimmy Page’s violin bow across the electric guitar. The song drifts right out of the last one and really sets a tone as keys and the guitar begin to rebuild the rhythm. Nicholas’ vocals join in, “Dry lips, nothing can satisfy this bitter taste of denial.” “Of breathing a life that isn’t yours.” “But where the souvenir tastes fine.” The drum rhythm begins to pick up and the electric guitar keeps pace with the drums. Then keys, strings, and bells are added providing heightened dynamic sound. The second longest song on the album and it does not disappoint. The pounding drums will stay with you long after the song finishes. No hesitation, I want more drums. Excellent fade out.
9. Falling from the Sun – Slow picked guitar chords and clapping sounds, before piano and Nicholas’ vocals, “I stare at the rain, tiny drops rolling on and down the window pane.” “And as cliché as it sounds.” “I can’t help thinking about the way it had to end.” “Falling from the sun.” Bass, piano, strings, guitar and vocals. “I cannot help thinking about the brighter things lying ahead.” “Irradiate me in a whisper.” “I'm falling for the sunrise glowing on your face.” “In one last glance, for one caress.” Big, bold sound with cello, double bass, and violins orchestrating. Nice way to end an album.
Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
This is the first album I have of theirs, but it definitely won’t be the last. I have heard nothing but good things about their last one Building an Empire, so that is where I will start first to buy the catalog. This is an impressive work for three guys. The power of comparison to another one of prog’s best trios – Rush fits. Very dynamic music with loads of feeling and emotion.
The fact that Nicholas also challenged himself to learn and play new instruments, instead of falling back on samples, is a not only an accomplishment, it’s a compliment to the care he took in creating a sound which would be dynamic and hopefully appreciated by others. I know this album was enough to peak my interest and I hope others will give it the same chance.
Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Yes, absolutely. Solid album from beginning to end. Loud and soft, very well balanced.
Rating: 9/10 – Need to hear more of their work to rate this one higher, but definitely recommend this one for anyone who likes the Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief, or even the Rush side of prog.
Reviewed by Prof on June 9th, 2010