Magellan

Symphony for a Misanthrope

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    6
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Trent Gardner, who performs with a shifting array of sidemen who have included, at various times, everyone from Dream Theater's James LaBrie to King Crimson's Tony Levin, hits just about every prog rock cliche on this, his sixth LP as Magellan. You've got your operatic, high-pitched vocals, your classical interludes (one of them lifted directly from Bach), your 18-minute suite, your suddenly shifting time signatures, the whole bit. What separates this album from those of Gardner's colleagues, though, is the consistently downcast nature of his lyrics. There's no pantheistic whimsy on Symphony for a Misanthrope, no will to power, no strength through joy. As the title suggests, it takes a dark view of mankind and of mankind's future. That's not to say that the music isn't fun, just that it's a dark sort of fun: "Wisdom" sounds a bit like Peter Gabriel with less compelling hooks, whereas the blistering "Doctor Concoctor" rocks along like one of Adrian Belew's solo albums, with more compelling hooks. You may start to lose interest about two-thirds of the way through the interminable "Cranium Reef Suite," but before you do you'll probably get a good solid kick out of its big guitars and complex structure. Not bad at all.

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