Dreaming Madmen 2019

Ashes Of A Diary

Soul-searching by Lebanese-American duo who feel their way through art-rock cosmos seeking out sound and identity.

It’s a long way from Middle East to Austin, so this duo know the value of distance all too well, which is why, perhaps, the Aboujaoude brothers – guitarist Mathew and bassist Christopher – find it easy to inhabit the same space as “Wish You Were Here” and “I Can See Your House From Here”: two obvious stepping stones of their little ensemble’s creative development. A concept album, “Ashes Of A Diary” follows the story of an elderly man whose life was filled with a wide spectrum of emotions that let the band unfold an epic prog tapestry while keeping the overall aural picture reined in so, despite the grandeur of individual pieces, the record doesn’t cross a 40-minute mark.

Fading into view with a faint crackle – whether of a fire or an old vinyl is anyone’s guess – it expands to flow from “Page One” to “Final Page (Until We Meet Again)” like a tidal wave which will carry worries away to where ship of memories should sail amidst sharp riffs that paint “Behind My Wall” in bluesy colors, even though Caelin Tralongo’s pedestrian vocals anchor the leaders’ harmonies before their six strings and ivories take flight here and on the title track. There’s nothing hermetic about the duo’s stratospheric tendencies, and while the lower frequencies of “Your Possessor” can evoke claustrophobia and aloofness, ethereal uplift behind “Lock Thyself” has enough pull to provide a way out. The hard rock element in “Enigma” could have been compressed for stronger impact, yet this heaviness must work wonders when taken to the stage.

It’s there that the brothers’ music may come alive and become their own. A promising debut.


March 20, 2020

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