Bloodfish Music, 2003

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Darned if I know how to start this review.

Phideaux Xavier is -- or appears to be -- a one-man crusade for thinking outside the box in modern music. For starters, you can get his latest CD, Fiendish, free. (Postage donations accepted by return mail, and frankly if you ask for this CD and don't send him some money it's your karma.) He is also only the second artist that I've ever reviewed where I couldn't immediately identify a few people he sounds like; hell, I'm not even sure there's a genre here. Perhaps future generations will identify music as 'phideauxian.' In a truly just world, it would happen -- because Phideaux Xavier is a freakin' genius, and this CD has just utterly disrupted my plans for the 2003 Top Ten.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I suppose the closest genre would be progressive rock, though to put this and, say, Yes in the same classification is utterly ridiculous. There are elements of pop, guitar rock, and electronica as well; sonar beeps and theremin wails are scattered all through Fiendish. If you can imagine a place where early Moody Blues, David Bowie, The Residents, The Beatles, Stephen Fearing, "Wish You Were Here"-era Pink Floyd, and Three Dog Night are having a long discussion about the inherent darkness in the human soul, you'd be somewhere in Fiendish's ballpark. But only somewhere.

The album, for an independent release, is impeccably produced -- it brings the nuances of Phideaux's music out in spades, to the point where this is a CD that I consider headphone-listening to be essential. There are details on listening to this up close and personal that you miss on a larger system, and they're what turns good into great. Sounds phase back and forth between channels, vocal layers weave around each other -- this is truly a sonic tapestry that comes very, very close to perfection.

There isn't a bad song on the CD, and in truth I don't want to single songs out. Fiendish is a piece of work by itself; it's not a mistake there's no dead space between tracks. Phideaux takes the normal and prosaic, and mixes it with ethereal female vocals, harpsichord, theremin, mellotron, english horn, oboe, autoharp, and something called 'funeral water' and 'space beeps' until you are bowled over by the bewildered brilliance. There are very few things I hear after five years in this gig that I can honestly call 'groundbreaking.' Fiendish is the exception that proves the rule. Get it. Get it NOW.

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Rating: A

User Rating: B+



© 2004 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bloodfish Music, and is used for informational purposes only.