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Five8 - Our Imaginarium


album Reviews Apr 08, 02:11pm

A review of Delhi's funk/prog/hard-rock band Five8's new full length release, Our Imaginarium.

Five8’s debut full length album, Our Imaginarium, offers the listener a series of high points throughout the album; half way through ‘Ballad to the City’, guest saxophonist Abhay Sharma leads the song into a subtle-grooved and slow rising dimension with some seriously fluid lung work, rendering a much deeper articulation to the song. While guest guitarist Aditya Balani injects a smooth and laid back guitar solo into a typical groovy funk bass line assorted with ghost notes on the drums, featured on the second half of ‘Broke’, Steve Peter justifies his role as bassist on each track with ease and soul. Compared to their self-titled EP released in 2010, Five8’s music has witnessed an evolution into a funk/groove sound; the instruments constantly play a tug-of-war of aural flow, allowing each other to lead progressions toward different tangents and pull them back.

As for the words, safe to say that this writer tends to stray away from critiquing lyrics beyond a point; after all, just like the music the words are also basically a medium of expression, difficult to judge as inferior or sub-standard. But then, just like the music, the words rely heavily on undertones and enunciation too; rhyming words doesn’t cut it, neither does just coherence or emotion, it is a convergence of these attributes aimed towards a higher pursuit of justifying emotive communication. For instance, pushing just that one extra note on a guitar solo or a vocal harmony can ruin a perfectly beautiful rise in progression. In this writer’s opinion, the vocal delivery and lyrics fall short by just a notch – one of not being able to invoke any after-thought.

Dwelling within an interesting space of technicality and experimentation, the instrument work on the album displays an intricate weaving of the different voices, yet each maintaining a sense of individuality and independent connection. Sharma’s prowess on the tracks ‘Ballad to the City’ and ‘State of Mind’ will remind one of the maturity a seasoned musician has, reminiscent of Richard Parry’s saxophone work on Pink Floyd’s Pulse. Now, while the instruments sound beautiful together, it is justified to say that there is a certain disconnect between the music and the vocals. The vocals on the record are pretty much the only aspect that stimulated an aversive reaction from this writer. Mind the fact that there is no objection against the ability of the vocalist to hit notes correctly, but with being able to justify each one. While Five8 claim to have managed to evolve and grow since their previous release, the vocals probably have to go a stride or two further. Not unlike Dave Matthew’s realization – which he had in the latter half of his musical career – that every bar of music does not have to be filled with words, it is an epiphany we hope this band will have soon. The vocals soar over high Geoff Tate-like notes and vocal tremolos, stretched to their elasticity where every second half note – while clearly displaying vocal talent - is almost unnecessary, or even worse, leeching the music’s value.

On the one hand, it is easy to punch holes into the record for lack of taste, but on the other it would be hard for anyone to disagree with the fact that the album successfully maintains consistency and a sense of identity. There is no confusion in terms of the space within the soundscape where the music dwells; if you’re funky as hell, you’re probably going to love this record.

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