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Unweaving The Rainbow

3.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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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.

Review

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

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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: 3.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,381 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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