Review Summary: The thresholds wither away for a view of the beauty at the core....
There are times in every music lover’s life where a record’s concept, ambition, and execution is understood and loved immediately. Not just by the heart and how it makes you feel but on an intellectual level as well. These moments are when one truly appreciates an artist’s creation. Liminal
has all the essential ingredients to conjure up this feeling in anyone who listens to it with no fluff added. Discussing the pedigree of the musicians that make up Exivious would do a disservice to this work of progressive-fusion art. Sure, they are current and former members of Cynic and Textures but even if they were current and former members of [insert band here] that shouldn’t add or take away from this, a magnum opus if there ever was one.
More focused than the meandering nature of Trioscapes and more immediate than the sometimes glacial pace of T.R.A.M, Liminal
has the group striking a balance seldom can attain, much less in the realm of progressive jazz/fusion. The sheer number of ideas as to where to go and what to do with the medium has resulted in many albums either going too far with the wall of noise or holding back too much in fear of doing so. Liminal
doesn’t experiment with the plethora of soundscapes and instruments available to those subscribing to the jazz/fusion moniker but instead chooses to hone its more contemporary musicianship to a razor sheen. Every instrument is clearly differentiated and contributes to the different cascades of mood every song portrays. The guitars in particular showcase a perfect mix of lightly distorted riffage (as heard especially on Deeply Woven) and technical fret play which play through and off each other artfully. The noodling all has a clear focus in each song, and never seems to just fill space. In fact, the entirety of the record gives a definite sense of progression, carrying the listener from one section to the next seamlessly and gives off a welcome cohesiveness that was absent from the debut.
At the heart of Liminal
is its concept, which is that of stripping away the superfluous qualities of emotion, situation, and inspiration and leaving behind only its essence. This is the concept of the term liminality and perfectly describes the band’s direction with the absence of a variety of instruments and the sharp focus of the songs. That is not to say Liminal
drags on at any point, in fact the pacing is beautifully crafted. The more post-rock songs like “Alphaform” or “Movement” temper the crazier portions of the record such as the saxophone madness of “Deeply Woven” or the strange effects and odd climax of “Triguna”. The record nails these two extremes, and everything in between, effortlessly. Musically, the record achieves everything it was made to do and conveys it’s concept so clearly and poignantly its almost scary.
Exivious once again bestows upon the masses a genre-defining album, displaying a marvelous blend of experimentation, songwriting expertise (not using that word lightly), and the feeling of plain rocking. The strange juxtaposition of using a concept of stripped-down instrumentation, conveying feeling and moods at their most basic level using a framework as frequently ostentatious and gaudy as progressive jazz-fusion is not lost on this reviewer and the fact that it’s pulled off so well by a group of men only releasing their second album is quite a feat. Those who want thrills without frills in their music cannot go wrong by giving this a listen.