In the Nursery

Köda

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While in many ways a logical continuation of the aesthetic demonstrated on Stormhorse -- predominantly instrumental compositions utilizing synthesizers to create mock-orchestral pieces -- Köda suffers a touch in comparison. For whatever reason, many of the string samples sound just a little too shrill and, especially from the vantage of time, simply cheesy, a little too obvious. Unavoidable perhaps, but the bombastic surge of the opening track "Rites," for one, is undercut when you can just sense that the sometimes hyper-trebly melodies are direct from the keyboard. This aside, however, Köda is a fine record nonetheless, not as much of a distinct progression from the previous album, but possessed of numerous subtle touches throughout, as with the woodwind shadings on the gentle "Te Deum." Overall, the emphasis is on the big and at-times overwhelming, notably on the pounding "Scherzo," with even fragmentary pieces suggesting movements in a Wagnerian epic production. The haunting, complex "Ascent" is the centerpiece of the record, majestic in its scope and wonderfully arranged. Q's snare drumming once again adds a distinct, powerful flair to the proceedings, while Dolores Marguerite provides dramatic narration more than once, mostly in French. Gary Talpas' explanatory liner notes read practically like those of a "normal" classical release; if the intent is ironic, it's awfully hard to tell. On its own, though, Köda is more than fine as a collection of striking mood pieces, regardless of any intent as a uniform creation. The ITN Corporation reissue adds two key single tracks from the same time, the rushing "Compulsion" and the magnificent "Libertaire," as beautiful and powerful a summation of the ITN sound as any, with sweeping horns, strings, and organ counterbalanced against delicate, gentle passages.

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