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Unweaving The Rainbow

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Audio CD, November 25, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Frameshift is an exciting new Progressive Rock project written and produced by Henning Pauly of Chain for James LaBrie, vocalist of the legendary progmetal band Dream Theater. "Unweaving the rainbow" features 80 minutes of modern progressive rock based on the books on evolution by Richard Dawkins. Every song deals with a different evolutionary concept. The approach to writing the music was slightly different than most progressive rock projects out there.

Composer Henning Pauly has worked in a wide variety of styles. Shortly before he started working on Frameshift he wrote a film score and suddenly it clicked. Modern film music combines elements from a lot of different styles. They are a mix of metal, ambient, techno, orchestral, rock, pop, loop based music. The way these elements come together in a film score lends itself perfectly to the genre of progressive rock so Henning decided to use this approach for Frameshift. He did not want to limit the music on this album to what is possible with a rock band lineup, but to what is possible with the tools a film composer has at his disposal. This didn't mean that he would forget about all the elements that make progressive rock what it is, he would simply take a slightly different approach to arranging it.

Knowing that James LaBrie would be singing the whole album, he wanted to offer this outstanding vocalist an opportunity to sing in ways he has not performed before. James is a huge Queen fan and Henning frequently uses large vocal arrangements in his songs. The plan was simply: Leave a lot of space for vocals, make them the most important element on the album. So the songs were written with several a capella parts and even some counterpoint passages in the tradition of Gentle Giant and Spock's Beard, which both Henning and James are big fans of.

The album features modern studio recording techniques, fused with lush orchestration and diverse instruments such as Warr Guitar and Chapman Stick.


Project featuring James LaBrie (Dream Theater) & Henning Pauly (Chain) must be good, it was my initial thought when I hold Frameshift new opus in my hands for the first time. Unweaving the Rainbow is the title of this more than 70 minutes long CD.

Unweaving the Rainbow is Pauly s concept project based on the written works of Dr. Richard Dawkins, a neo-Darwinists. Each song deals with some aspect of evolution, from genetic mutation and DNA to the co-evolution etc. In addition to this rather strange and unusual concept, this album is written specifically for vocalist LaBrie.

When speaking of musical style then I can tell it is a broad load of modern and progressive rock including movie soundtracks, electronic loops and it is packed with great hooks and very fine performance LaBrie. This music reminds me a lot of Yes, 10CC, Queen and similar rock bands of the 80s. The main focus is on the vocal performance and I think Mr. LaBrie is doing the best job ever. Another fascinating thing is huge amount of solos and huge choral passages which are really catchy.

Listening to this piece of progressive modern rock was tremendous experience for me and Frameshift project is the one to be listened to if you want to hear one of the strongest rock releases of this year. It is executed almost to the perfection --Metal Revolution

Frameshift is a very interesting new progressive rock project written and produced by Henning Pauly of Chain for James LaBrie; the voice of one of the best prog metal bands of this time Dream Theater. The music on this album is based on the books on evolution by Richard Dawkins. Composer Pauly has used a lot of different musical styles, like e.g. metal, ambient, techno, orchestral, rock, pop and also loop based music. Knowing that James would be doing the singing, he wanted to offer him an opportunity to sing like he has never done before. As you probably know James is a huge Queen-fan and so Henning uses a lot of large vocal arrangements in the songs (like in La Mer). Some of the songs were even written with a few a capella parts (Walking Through Genetic Space) and remind me of superb progressive rock bands like Spock s Beard or Gentle Giant. Some Dream Theater fans (at least they claim to be so) criticised James s vocals on DT s latest killer album Train Of Thought; stating that he was just screaming . Well, those criticasters should really dig this album, because on Unweaving The Rainbow, James proves them wrong. He can sing, but we already knew this for a long time ...

The CD features 15 tracks, which are basically 14 songs, framed by Above The Grass Parts 1 & 2. The underlying idea was to reach three goals: produce an album featuring James LaBrie in ways that no one has heard him before, combine elements of progressive rock, film scoring and modern production and last, use the work of Dawkins as a concept that connects all the songs. Well, I can tell you that these three goals are definitely reached, listen to the album several times and you will be hooked . Right from the start with The Gene Machine, which is filled with excellent guitar hooks, dreamy keyboard parts and awesome vocals, you will love this album. Message From The Mountain, the longest track, starts with a bombastic musical intro and later on it turns into a very melodic rock song, with dominant keyboards and James singing like a young god. On this track, his vocals remind me of the part he sang on the Leonardo-Project; really top notch. For listeners who like their music a bit heavier, there are songs like Nice Guys Finish First (mysterious, complex and filled with staccato guitar riffs) or Cultural Genetics, a song with some Dream Theater characteristics.

Further highlights are: Above The Grass Part 2, with a beautiful orchestral overture, an overwhelming guitar solo and amazing singing, Off The Ground, a really fast track, and the almost jazzy vocals of James in River Out Of Eden. However there are two songs that are not really my cup of tea, Your Eyes, which tends to become very boring after 1 minute and I have problems with Bats, which sounds spacy and I do not like the sax solo in there. But, all in all, this is an excellent progressive rock album, and James is really second to none here. Buy or die! --Dutch Progressive Rock Pages

'm not going to give in to temptation and call Frameshift's Unweaving the Rainbow, a new project with Dream Theater singer James LaBrie, the album LaBrie's main band should have released in lieu of the love-it-or-hate-it Train of Thought. But I am going to say that this album sounds more like classic Dream Theater than Train of Thought could ever hope to, and it picks up right about where the first disc of Dream Theater's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence left off, both musically and lyrically.

Written and produced by multi-instrumentalist Henning Pauly (a member of the progressive-rock band Chain) specifically for LaBrie's voice, Unweaving the Rainbow contains a series of songs based on the writings of neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins. In fact, the album's title comes from one of Dawkins' books of the same name, and each song is based on a different chapter from the professor's various books about evolution. But don't let that deter you. This is an astounding album that maintains its strength for all of its 79 minutes and 30 seconds. Pauly plays guitars, bass, keyboards, banjo and percussion while also handling programming, orchestration, engineering and mixing. A trio of other musicians helps out on drums, guitar, bass and sax, but the main emphasis here is on guitars, piano and (naturally) LaBrie.

Pauly encouraged the singer to experiment with many different vocal styles that recall Queen, Savatage, Rabin-era Yes and even Marilyn Manson. Countless overdubs make LaBrie's voice sound like it never has before, as he makes all lead, harmony and modulated vocals his own. Organic ballads like "Above the Grass," "Your Eyes," "La Mer" and "Origins and Miracles" slide in seamlessly with such scorching progressive-rock/metal tracks as "The Gene Machine," "Spiders," "Nice Guys Finish First" and "Arms Races." It's hard to believe that LaBrie recorded 18 songs (these 15, plus three others for a forthcoming multiple-artist rock opera called BabySteps) in 13 days, belting out mind-swelling lyrics for up to 10 hours a day.

This is a complex album that requires several listens before it even begins to make sense, thanks to the depth of the music and the subject matter. As the liner notes state, attempting to explain the disc's connection to Dawkins' work in the fields of genetics and biology: "These songs can only hint at the complexity of the chapters they are based on they do not attempt to be a summary of Dawkins' ideas."

I wish I'd have heard Unweaving the Rainbow in time to include it on my Top 10 of 2003 list. Hey, Mr. Editor, can it go to 11? --Sea of Tranquility

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 25, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: November 25, 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ProgRock Records
  • ASIN: B00013M0N6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,195 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Hutch on November 15, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Okay. I like Dream Theater, and I like The Flower Kings/Transatlantic and all assorted side projects of different neo 'prog rockers' that are presently out on the market. I have ordered solo projects from different bands (Neal Morse solo's) etc... but they all are very good, and I enjoy them, but rarely does a side project rival the original group from which the member came from....

James Labrie from Dream Theater shines on this CD. The whole CD is wonderful. His singing is great, the songs are tight, and if you weren't paying attention, you might mistake this for a new DT cd.

Sometimes in Prog rock, the music can be totally excellent, whilst the lyrics or the singer not be really with it. The lyrics are either put in the song as an afterthought... a speed bump on the way to the music muscle. And, we as music lovers will tolerate the dada lyrics as long as the music carry's the day. However, the great prog songs also had decent/good lyrics that you could enjoy or at least sing along to (Close to the edge, down by a river...) I guess the point I am making is, this CD was produced with an emphasis on good harmonies, and wonderful lyric writing. The music is flawless, but the vocals and lyrics also are very strong. This makes a very strong package, which is the main reason it gets a FIVE instead of a 4. Or a 5- .. due to strong music.

The whole CD is enjoyable but there are some standout songs here that one should pay attention to: (in order of appearance)

1. River out of Eden. This is a great song. I enjoyed from the initial time I heard it and it sticks in my head.

2. Your Eyes. This song sorta, kinda, in a way, reminds me of classic Kansas. Not totally, but done very well. I really enjoy the chorus.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By G. Murani on July 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First of all, Dream Theater is my favorite band. After hearing all about Frameshift I always put this CD off. Then one day I said what the hell...

WHY DID I WAIT???!!!! This CD beats alot of Dream Theater material. Every song one this CD has it's place and fits in perfectly. This defines progressive rock/metal.

ABOVE THE GRASS PT. 1 - A nice 43 second intro. basically previews the final track. Good for what it is.

THE GENE MACHINE - A fast-paced song to start it off. KILLER chorus, good verses. Short keyboard break fits in perfectly. Can't find anything I don't like about this song.

SPIDERS - This song has a great groove to it. Starts off with James singing a funky verse. Good guitar. The "Queen-ish" interlude where James layers himself is great. Good song.

RIVER OUT OF EDEN - Here the CD mellows down a bit. The guitar intro is interesting. Good slower song. Not the best of the CD though.

MESSAGE FROM THE MOUNTAIN - EXCELLENT two minute intro. one of the 3 best intros on the CD. (The other being Off The Ground and Above The Grass Pt. 2) Finally breaks in with a great verse followed by a great chorus as well. Great solo and outro. This song deserves:

YOUR EYES - Catchy song, all acoustic. It's kind of poppy, but doesn't fail to impress.

LA MER - This song reminds me of why I love LaBrie's slow ballads. Incredible piano/vocal work. Very emotional song. The song picks up later on with the full band, and hits you head on with emotion. Then back to the piano and James. Incredible ballad.

NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST - Faster-paced song. Decent verse and chorus. I find it to be lacking something.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hiatus6 on February 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Synth, Wah, Funk... it's all here! I'm only on track 5 and I can tell this CD was WELL worth the wait -- not only for its superb musicianship, but also because of the lyrical content. The song titles are ABSOLUTELY perfect for the messages they convey.
All of the music is top-notch. Expect a new level for LaBrie's vocals... impeccable. Lots of layering, harmonizing, and vibrato. Great stuff!!! "River Out of Eden" is an amazing song, with a chorus that'll hook you on the first listen.
My wait is over, and the empty position in my CD changer has been filled! I expect this to stay in rotation with Mullmuzzler for a long while.
***After many listens***
Well... the music's had time to sink in, and I now have even more feelings for the album. Don't listen to this CD and expect Dream Theater. The only aspect of Dream Theater you'll get (obviously) are the vocal stylings of James LaBrie. Having never listened to Chain, I have much respect for Henning Pauly's musical versatility. There are more mellow/laid back songs (Your Eyes, La Mer) on this disc, as well as straight out rockers (Off the Ground).
Stand out tracks:
Your Eyes - Expect a Wait For Sleep or Silent Man type song here.
La Mer - Beautiful song about the oceans (again in the same vain as Your Eyes)
River Out of Eden - Great chorus, catchy song... had me from the first listen!
Arms Races - Good song musically, but the real amazement is the lyrical standpoint of this song (weighing advantages and competition in the animal world).
Walking Through Genetic Space - Almost Gregorian Chant like at times. AMAZING vocal harmonies.
**I can't say ENOUGH about the variety of music types and moods. Synth, strings, wah, funk, rock, nearly operatic, jazzy... even a BANJO is utilized!!!
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