White noise, black hole: journey into the great unknown where the light lurks.
You can blame it on certain dark side dwellers, yet it’s difficult to justify the depressive quality of today’s prog movement, even though this can be a symptom of our times. Not knowing where the life leads us, we land on the x(x) function, which provided South Carolinan multi-instiumentalist Dale Simmons with a name for his debut project but, instead of chiming with nebulosity, it tries to fly away. The route from “Stolen Wings” to the blues of “Daylight (Silent Key)” is filled with pain, though, served with solemn chords and vibrant harmonies.
That’s why for all the album’s atmospheric intent, most of the pieces feel rather claustrophobic and, when “Seeker’s Prayer” and the riffy “Dead Reckoning” bare a shoegaze tint and a heavy tint, uncomfortable. Simmons’ guitar may soar, splintering along the way, very vividly, before the acoustic tincture of “Metamorph” brings the cosmic mood down, but there’s no escaping from anguish in the artist’s voice. PORCUPINE TREE’s Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison give the less insular moments a subtle tension, “The Last Orbit” beginning a welcoming piano line to frame its wishful thinking, yet the record’s delicious edge on finale doesn’t bring a closure. And how can it if there’s been no way out of here from the off?
But, if the sky’s the limit, the hope is there, and the original function resolves positively when the “x” is that hope.