(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
Formed in the year 2000 as a three piece, the band Fractal has been in its current form since 2004. Sequitur is the follow up to their debut album entitled Continuum. According to what I have read the band started out heavily influenced by King Crimson which has decreased somewhat on their latest offering. The band consists of Josh Friedman (guitars, vocals), Jim Mallonee ((bass, keyboards, vocals), Nic Roozeboom (guitars, loops, vocals) and Paul Strong (drums, percussion). Although there is a Crimson element at work here, the band has weaved their own sound into the mix and have come up with an engaging album that has just the right amount of eclecticism in combination with wonderful melodies. The vocal duties are shared and offer quite a difference in styles as Friedman has a subtle melodic delivery in contrast to the more bluesy approach of Mallonee.
Fans of Crimson should like the opening song "Ellipsis", an instrumental containing a cool guitar riff running its entire length occasionally interrupted by breezy interludes of pretty guitar stylings. The poignant "Aftermath" is their response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is truly excellent with its crunchy riffs, soaring vocals and a middle percussion part that will leave you absolutely breathless. It is hard not to be moved as Friedman sings:
(Aftermath) In the darkness, lost within the shadows
Of a time that was our prime, now entombed within the
(Aftermath) In the dark ages past our glory
In the stark wilderness, the ruins tell their story
This effectively brings back the memory of that dark, fateful day. The ending guitar solo contains the same passion as the song's content, played with emotion and feeling. Continuing along a lighter path is the melodic "Mantra: Eternal Spring Of Life" with its circling patterns of swirling guitar notes and Strong's crashing cymbal work. "Giving Tree", a reflective ballad, has some of the CD's softer moments with lovely guitar and tranquil vocals. The ominous-sounding "Coriolis" is a trippy instrumental featuring rhythmic drumming, cool effects and moody atmospheric patterns of unparalleled spaciness. Radiohead came to mind when listening to the moody "A Fraction Of One", especially the guitar sounds and a vocal approach similar to Thom Yorke.
There is a more avant-garde approach to some of the tunes heard later on, "Pataphysics" and "Mauves" come to mind, with the latter featuring the raspy vocals of Mallonee. While I still enjoyed these songs, I prefer the albums more melodious moments. That being said, this album certainly has its share of contrasting styles and surprises, effectively keeping me totally engaged, with subsequent listens revealing subtle nuances not previously heard.
The future appears bright for this talented band. They are starting to develop a unique sound all their own and should appeal to a wide range of progressive rock fans. Recommended for prog collections everywhere.