This one takes off for the skies from the very first note. Freddie Sipo enjoyed more than a few laurels as a recording engineer and then, eschewing the moneytrail, turned to tap his own creativity, this CD being the result…and what a torrent of passion and layered sidereality! Residing squarely in the progressive vein, Year of the White Rose is the onslaught of an excruciatingly vaulting tenor inside dreamwave intensity. Thick and gauzy, incandescent with exploding emotions and an ambition to transcend the mortal plane, Sipo is following in the footsteps of shoegaze and trance musics drenched in the more baroque progressive rock side-traditions, a shimmering garden of terrene and celestial pastoralities burning with energies cascading in fireballs of ferocious beauty and abstraction.
Look, I ain't kiddin', don't put this on if you have a heart condition or happen to be related to Betty Crocker, it's way too intense for that, but, even if you're in great condition, lie down at first, as Year of the Rose is going to storm out of the speakers like a cyclone. The last time I recall anything this nakedly searing vocally, it was Les Dougan's singing for Aragon's Don't Bring the Rain, a criminally underlauded progrock landmark. How Sipo didn't blow an aorta during the making of Rose, I'll never know; the human body wasn't constructed to do this, yet he's done it.
Just when I was starting to worry about my favorite genre, this guy starts carving back into it through an ingenious new pathway. Sipo has reached so powerfully beyond the staples and extrapolations to achieve a balance between the real and the trans-spiritual that there are no comparatives. Ange would never have thought of this, nor would Barclay James Harvest, nor Sigur Ros. Rose is a unique piece of work. In my quite large prog collection, I doubt I could find five other releases like it. If you're looking for the resplendently new and the achingly powerful in a boundary pusher, here it is, wrapped up in a billowing welter of roiling clouds, hurtling thunderstorms, and coruscating starfire athwart a voice inflected with Marc Bolan and Sting but mostly rock operatic and able to pierce steel. Thank Christ Sipo located three other maverick souls to man the drums and bass, completely empathetic to the heavenly chaos of it all.
In fact, a very unusual component is the dual drummer situation where two sticksmen utilize a single interleaving kit called The Mono. Check out YouTube to see it physically—very interesting but then everything about this disc is unusual. Rose was heralded in the FAME pick list as "over the top" and truer words were ne'er spoke, yet what seems to be an orchestra of keyboards, mellotrons, and synths is really a full spectrum ambientalist approach to guitar sonics employing a customized fretless axe and oscillators, the composer Enossifying matters for a symphonic slam pinning the audient's ears back. Since the aforementioned Aragon disc, the most recent time I was this impressed by the sheer power of a new disc in such a ratcheted-up mode, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails were the culprits in a blistering metal/electronica/industrial vein. Sipo's nowhere in NIN's territory modally, his work being drenched with majesty, but the effect is the same, audially, mentally, and viscerally.
This one already goes into my Top 10 of the year selections while achieving a spot among treasured unique recordings (T2, Spontaneous Combustion, Clear Blue Sky, A Small Good Thing, etc.) that historically suffered anonymity because they were, sadly, well ahead of the public. If that happens here, I'm going to have to re-analyze Rupert Sheldrake's The Presence of Things Past and figure out how to accelerate the planetary morphic resonance field because art's losing too much to herd mentality.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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