Tantalus - "Lumen Et Caligo I"
(Headline Records 2002, HDL 511)
From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)
British ensemble Tantalus play progressive rock along the lines of Pendragon, Pallas, Kansas, Asia and the like. Maybe a touch of Wind/Trick era Genesis. The band is tight as a knot and the music includes all the expected prog rock thematic twists and turns. The band consists of Max Hunt on keyboards, percussion and backing vocals, Jason Tilbrook on bass, 12-string guitar, balalaika, mandolin and dulcimer, Bob Leek on lead vocals, 12-string guitar, classical guitar and synths, Geralinde Hunt on keyboards, recorders and backing vocals, Tony Wells on drums, and Nick Beere on electric & acoustic guitars, bass, percussion and backing vocals. Lumen Et Caligo I is the bands fourth album and is the first of a 2-part project, the second to be released sometime during 2003.
After a couple tracks of decent but less than exciting song-oriented progressive rock, we finally we get some interesting instrumental muscle flexing on "Raining On The Parade". This turns out to be only intro and ending bits to what is otherwise a slow paced melodic tune, but it does show that Tantalus can crank out some intricate progressive rock when they want to. Another highlight track is "Harp Dance/Dig The Sod" which includes Celtic and Renaissance influences that I enjoyed and the slow singing guitar solos are entrancing. More fiery guitar can be heard on "Finger Painting" and "On Dr Syntax's Head". "Black Dream" is a cover of an early 70's song though I'm unclear as to who originally recorded it. The song itself is ok but the instrumental section at the end kicks ass. But the most powerful track of the set and my hands down favorite is "Route Thirty Six Part Two". This nearly 10 minute track is all instrumental, has ripping leads, complex and ever-shifting arrangements, and excellent placement of sweeping rock sections and lulling melodic parts. Fans of classic progressive rock will swoon over this one. I sure did.
In summary, it was the heavier rocking instrumental moments that excited me, and the slick production results in a rich and full sound. If this is your cup of tea then you're pretty well assured of liking Tantalus because they're damn go at what they do. The adventurous moments are all too few, but the music is full of that gorgeous majestic sound that sweeps you away to every fantasy world your mind can dream up.
Headline is part of the Hi-Note Music group. You can visit their web site at: http://www.hinotemusic.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Hi-Note Music; PO Box 26; Windsor; SL4 2YX; UK.
Visit the Tantalus web site at: http://www.tantalus.co.uk.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz