1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
Three artists trying to make their own version of prog – influenced music without the interference of record companies.
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
“The long awaited follow up to 2005’s critically acclaimed “The Sound of Thoughts”, this is the story of Ben – someone who has gone through life as though a sleepwalker and an observer – and he is about to become not only a participant but the focal point of some rather bizarre circumstances and behaviors” (http://www.robertsvilpa.com/, 2009).
“Imagine if you will, a person who is captivated by his own reflection looking at the world around them with the eyes of someone who imagines it as some bizarre dream; that his own subconscious is doing this simply to confuse and confound him, and the only way to escape this dream is to further narcotize himself into a waking stupor. Now imagine this same person converses at every possible opportunity with the image in the mirror, constantly asking himself for the answers to all his problems as he ingests every psychotropic substance within his can reach and what is shocking is that on this particular day the mirror replies to him with answers…” (http://www.robertsvilpa.com/, 2009).
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
The First Piece in the Puzzle –Slow keys, then this one takes off fast and powerful, enveloping your ears in organs, drums, guitars, flying from all directions – organized chaos they call it. An instrumental, but words would have fallen short on this one. Very cool guitar and drum rhythm gathers everything together, (this would look and sound so cool live on stage), as you are overwhelmed with power not heard since maybe Moving Pictures and Grace Under Pressure. But the organ keeps you away from Rush. Then the real synthesizers kick in, but before you think this is gonna be like another prog album you’ve heard, the piano and guitar take your thoughts away! Perfectly played keys, synths, guitar and drums. Everything you could want from a prog song blasted at you all at once. Perfect opening! Easily the most powerful song on the album. My favorite!
Mirror Mirror – How do you follow up that powerful opening? A poppy, single- sounding song. The refrain will remain with you long after the song ends. Nice guitar solos in the middle and cool synths and acoustic guitar.
Temple of Lost Souls – The album’s epic song. The lyrics really paint a dark picture on this one. Day to day living in a state of depression. “Time makes it all worthwhile.” But “…hold your nose, see it through, wink and smile.” Synths, bass and drums building a rhythm. Recalling a life lived…so far…as if in a dream. Then an acoustic guitar and lyrics that describe working to do more than just survive. In the background, the spoken word, a commitment to go to college and the feeling of the stress of completing this monumental task, (“one of the best decisions of my life”). The sound of a Barack Obama speech in the background, “while we breath, we hope – Yes We Can!” Then the protagonist meets his future wife. “Our hearts take flight…and lead us into eternity…” Then a reference to Supper’s Ready, “hand in hand and gland in gland”, “we make the final (Lover’s) leap.” Guitar, drums and the middle epic instrumental. Then Led Zeppelin, “In my time of dying.” Then the common Neo – prog references of a woman ruining a man’s life.
Frantic – Guitar and drums with synthesized vocals describing the growth of the importance of the mirror in the protagonist’s life, taking over everything. The piano at the end brings this one to a nice close.
In the Shadows – Guitar and piano open this song as more of the story is unveiled. Best when the instrumental parts come in. Synths, guitar and drums take you away from the depressing lyrics.
The Only One – Guitar solos and synths along with an often repeated refrain.
Mesmerize – Cool synthesizer and effects opening to the second epic on the album. This helps make it sound more original. Wish there was more of this throughout the album. Then some Hawking speeches, before sliding back into the instrumental. Drums, synths, bass, and guitar. Then that Tubular Bells piano before drifting off into synthesizer rhythms. Then the drums rock it back to life with resounding crashing guitars and organ, interrupted by a phone call “at the tone, the time will be…” The song drifts off to Hawking, “I want to describe an exciting new development that may transform our view of the universe and of reality itself, whatever that may be”.
Adagio in A Minor – Brilliant piano and soft guitar open this song and then the drums and guitar kick in. The piano remains helping to make this one of the better songs on the album. The traditional Neo – prog guitar riff and many of those Neo prog clichés.
As Time Goes By - “Clouds hang over my head.” “The sun is shining for everyone else all around.” Synths, drums, and bass supporting an endless despair. “Lost in a hole with no feelings of trust.” The victim with no way out.
Atonement – Cool synthesizer effects to start this one. Then rough guitars and drums rock this one to life. Very cool. Now this is like track one, cool and different sounding. Another one of the best tracks on the album, without the despair of the lyrics to bring it down. Just straight ahead rocking out. An almost calliope sound to the synths or organ at the end. Very nice.
Drawing the Short Straw – Back to the mirror. An eight minute finale, “drawn back into the icy depths floating on a sea for infinity…”
Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Not really. So many similarities between this and almost every other Neo – prog band out there. The story is similar to many in the neo – prog genre. Loss, suffering, helplessness. A victim with no way to control their internal or external environment. A sad lament. If you like that, you’ll love this.
The musical instrumentals and the opening of the album were so promising that I had high hopes for the rest of the album. They help lift the album and provide the originality for this new work. It’s when I concentrate on the lyrics that I began to distance myself from the music.
Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Not sure. So much of the album is about destruction, decay, and the slow disintegration of things. I personally can only listen to the lyrics long enough to give it a listen for the review. The music on the other hand is good.
Rating: 6/10 – So many of the themes which dominate this album and the Neo – prog genre in general are repeated. The music is great, but the subject matter and lyrical development leave me wishing they would have made this more instrumental. The story is trying so hard to sound original, but I hear so many influences from others.
Reviewed by Prof on October 24th, 2009
Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Robert Svilpa returns in 2009, after almost four years with a brand new album called release A Fine Line Between… It’s also the first to feature an addition of ‘Paraesthesia’ to the name. I’m figuring that it refers to three other “core” musicians, Paul Harrington (keyboards) and Mark Parris (bass). Special guests are Nick D'Virgilio, Andy Edwards and Zsolt Galantai (drums) and Alan Morse (guitar on “Mesmerize”).
I feel Robert has a unique sound that infuses many elements of the progressive genre including Neo, symphonic along with elements of metal and modern progressive rock. The end result is an amazing album that according to Robert’s website, is a concept album about a person named Ben who’s a sleepwalker who goes through life doing unusual stuff both as a participant and an observer.
Highlights for me are the opening hard-edged prog track "The First Piece In The Puzzle", which is a great way to open an album with a bang. The next track, “Mirror Mirror” is possible one of the more “commercial” sounding of the album. In a perfect world, it could be the lead single of the album. For those fans of epics, there’s "Temple Of Lost Souls". While I enjoyed it, I found myself drawn to the shorter songs. The last track, “Drawing The Short Straw” is another favorite track of mine.
In closing, I feel that Robert Svilpa and his band have created some great memorable music on A Fine Line Between… I just hope he doesn’t wait another 4 years for follow-up. I’d rate this a very recommendable to fans of the more melodic side of progressive rock gene. This is also an album that could, in my opinion, sit side by side new releases by Porcupine Tree, IQ and many others.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on October 24th, 2009