Origin Of Species 2021
Balancing luxuriant and stark sonics, cosmic opera creators reveal the extremes of their flight.
From its very beginning, the DARWIN project was about vast spaces that called the listener beyond the imaginable, but there’s always been a very down-to-earth core which kept the entire endeavor within the human reach. So although both "Origin Of Species" and "A Frozen War" deployed a variety of arrangements, the overall aural picture tended to stay in the bounds of rock – fleshed out in different raiment of acoustic provenance. This gave the endeavor’s masterminds a bright idea to pulled the familiar cuts to opposite ends of such a spectrum and see the world they realized in a new light.
The idea worked like a charm. Almost stripped of prog balladry and vocal line, save for a tender piano, very prominent here, the orchestral layer of “Escape the Maze” and “Last Chance” may lose its tempered bombast but not its swaying power. As a result, once the heaviness of “Nightmare of My Dreams” – half as short as original version – has evaporated, only Guthrie Govan’s strum remains to anchor symphonic strings. Yet “Slowly Melting” is rid of electric edge altogether, leaving Simon Phillips and Matt Bissonette against a scarcely lit, nocturnal backdrop so that the song’s enchanting tune takes a frontal position.
Even more vulnerable, “One Horizon” doesn’t seem to present a lot of changes in unplugged form, despite the removal of violins and the bulging out of bass, while “Forever” has been remixed to sculpt a sax-smeared middle-of-the-road glimmer, with military drums spicing up the nigh-on unrecognizable piece. Still, if “Rise” soars on pizzicato to elevate the now-magnificent melody to wuthering heights, the pseudo a cappella rendering of “Another Year” turns out to be so soulful as to get close to the handclaps-abetted gospel uplift.
What’s important is that the union of numbers from two previous albums creates a fresh flow and a different – not only sonically but also conceptual – experience. It’s a portal to the world of DARWIN and an adventure in its own right.