Destiny of a Dream


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Destiny of a Dream Review

by Stanton Swihart

The first release from Swiss label Galileo Records, Destiny of a Dream cloaks itself in the trappings of progressive rock. Xang, in fact, are a French band in a long line of French progressive bands, but their direct influences -- the usual suspects: Yes, Genesis, Marillion, etc. -- are far less obscure (and hence less interesting) than many of their peers' inspirations, and it makes such a label as "progressive rock" passé at best and oxymoronic at worst. (How can music that's derivative of English music that occurred more than two decades before honestly claim the label "progressive"?) At least Destiny of a Dream is a pleasing derivation that acts as pleasant, if decidedly unprogressive, mood music, reveling in both the glories and excesses of the aforementioned bands -- tight, antiseptic musicianship; complex rhythm changes; plastic washes of synthesizers sliced by laser-sharp virtuosic guitar riffs; tricky chords that veer toward the mysterious or, in the least successful moments, severely melodramatic -- but without those bands' absolute sense of purpose and intensity. It is all very '70s-to-early-'80s sounding, which would be perfectly fine if it existed during those times. The playing borders on too virtuosic (in an Yngwie Malmsteen sort of way) and self-absorbed; as layer upon layer of passionless, sandblasted atmospherics streams past your eardrums, it's easy to become annoyed by the uninventiveness of the music. Xang make no effort at sounding remotely French, which is part of the reason the album fails as a listening experience. With all of that said, however, obsessive lovers of prog rock are likely to find something in the music to draw them in. It is certainly well thought out, and played to a precise point by technically facile instrumentalists. There are sections in each of the eight songs that have spatially interesting dynamics, and Xang often seem to have a real grasp of tempo. Prog, anyway, has long since gotten by with its reserves of genuine emotion virtually empty, replaced by a counterfeit substitute, a faux passion. Perhaps that is even part of the draw for some: the music does not depend on the messier parts of humanity. Unfortunately, those are often the best parts of humanity.

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