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Cydemind — The Descent
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-09-16

The Descent Cover art

Montreal’s Cydemind is back with another album of high-energy instrumental progressive rock with violin at the fore. Erosion (2017) was a fine album, but The Descent is a step up in almost every way. The compositions are more sophisticated, with a more natural, organic sound, and the performances are more assured. By comparison, Erosion seems to be trying just a bit too hard to impress listeners. “Hoax” is one of the highlights of the album, and showcases this maturation. It starts with piano and violin in a jazzy section that reminds me of classic 70s fusion, then moves into an outstanding bass solo. The intensity gradually ratchets up until the electric guitar swoops in, taking the jazzy riff into heavier territory while the violin soars above. This is one great tune! Most of the rest of the album leans more toward the rock side, but it’s all approached with an attitude of smart interaction rather than pummeling power. The group’s membership is intact from the previous album: Olivier Allard (violin), Alexandre Dagenais (drums), Camille Delage (keyboards), Nico Damoulianos (bass guitar), and Kevin Paquet (guitar). And aside from their increasing skills as composers and arrangers (all pieces are listed as group creations), the production on The Descent is much more balanced and natural sounding, punchy but not overdriven. Allard’s work is of course the focus much of the time, and he’s certainly up to the challenge. Delage’s keyboards are also excellent, whether on piano, organ, or synthesizer. Paquet has a lot of the shredder ethos in his guitar work, but in the context of these arrangements, it serves more as contrast than as a defining feature of the music. Damoulianos, as previously mentioned, gets in some nice spots of jazzy playing, but can also cruise through the rock parts with confidence. On the drums, Dagenais navigates the complexities smoothly, with a keen sense of when to simplify and when to go gonzo. I have no reservations about recommending this album to anyone who appreciates intelligent instrumental prog.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Cydemind

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