(All Album Reviews by Reginod)
I'd imagine that Da 63 Projekt (d63p) by French quartet Alkemy would pique the progressive listening interests of a respectable number of music lovers. The band's bio sheet proclaims the influences of Dream Theater, Queensr˙che, Chick Corea Elektric Band, Miles Davis and Pat Metheny Group.
Those influences are sifted finely through Alkemy, and perhaps channeled through the person of Aurélien Budynek. He composed all the pieces on d63p, played 6 & 7 string guitar, sang, and did the engineering and mixing as well. The other players took a hand in the arrangements and production: Lionel Bertrand on drums and percussion, Aurélie Martin on keyboards, and Philippe Sifre on fretted and fretless basses and background vocals.
Considerable time was invested in this project. Recorded in April-June of 2002 in Kind Of Studio, France, d63p was mixed over several sessions from June 2002 to December of 2003, and finally mastered in January 2004 at La Maison. The CD was subsequently released to the public on the Unicorn Records label of Quebec.
The progmetal-fusion marriage works well on d63p. With an emphasis on composition and ensemble playing, as opposed to improvisation, a sense of cohesion and discipline is evident among the band. And the good news is that these are generally well-written pieces of music. A casual listen seems insufficient to appreciate the album's depth.
I've spent a few weeks playing d63p on a fairly frequent basis (there is much music to be heard, after all) and it has held up well overall. I'm not uncritical of it; d63p is indeed a vocal album, and that may spell trouble for some listeners. Budynek is a capable but not outstanding singer, and this music needs an outstanding singer. The 8th cut, "First Person Dreamer" particularly drags a bit, due mainly to the vocals. To my ears, in a few places, there's a certain "90's rock" feel to the drumming, and the use of a certain repetitive "double-pop" on the snare (specifically on parts of "Within my Prism" and "Inner Pulse") which I have always found especially annoying. And the rhythms on d63p are indeed quite heavy. Sometimes I personally wish to hear a little more swing and subtlety, just to vary things a bit.
These criticisms are of course subjective nitpicking. Despite all, d63p has grown on me somewhat, due mostly to its compositional and harmonic sensibilities and general inventiveness. Budynek has managed to craft some pretty cool pieces of music here; "Leaving Future" has some infectious riffage, and the aforementioned "Within My Prism" has a nice Metheny-esque melody. "Turtle Soup" is a great instrumental, "Inner Pulse" fleshes out well after all, and "My Eyes" throws in several instrumental twists to make for a strong closing track.
As the saying goes, your mileage may vary concerning Da 63 Projekt. Look again at the influences and perhaps get an idea of what you'll hear, but consider that Alkemy indeed has some promise. Here's hoping that they can continue to hone their skills, because they just may be on to something.