- Potentially Dividing
With the album Oddity, multi-instrumentalist Franck Carducci and his international band certainly have produced a collection of music that shows moments of excellence and overall great potential for future releases. Although his solo career is relatively new, Carducci has already proven himself with years of experience playing in numerous bands and has had the opportunity to open for the likes of prog legend Steve Hackett. What is perhaps even more rewarding to Mr. Carducci is the great feedback he has received both from Hackett and Magnus (of Enid/Hackett/Renaissance fame), both of which enjoyed his album and had very strong compliments for the artist.
Perhaps Magnus described the album best by saying that he loved the variety that is present on the album and the various styles and moods that it offers. Since at this point, this is my review of the album I’ll say that this is spot on. Carducci’s work offers a range of types of songs, from “Achilles,” which offers epic symphonic rock to the folky, almost country leanings of “The Eyes of Age” or the bluesy late 60’s inspired hard rock of Alice’s Eerie Dream.” While the execution of the songs is strong, the sheer scope of the variety, for some, may result in either a blessing, a curse, or both. By the time I got through “Achilles” I was sucked into the album by the extremely classic symphonic approach; seriously felt like a step back into some of the great moments of the most classic bands from the early 70’s, with lots of time changes, mood shifts, raging organ, soaring moog solos, Mellotron, melodic bass, and gorgeous flute playing (executed by John Hackett; yes, he’s Steve’s brother!). Clocking in at 14 minutes plus and boasting a trajectory of dynamics which makes the piece never get dull, the whole song has a very epic feel. “The Quind” then mellows things out very nicely with its ambient uber-Pink Floydish vibes and somewhat dark feel.
Then I became suddenly shocked with “The Eyes of Age,” which has kind of a folk, almost country feel and sports some enjoyable violin playing. I believe that fans will become divided at this point. Either you’ll love the style and be delighted by the variety that the track offers, or you will find yourself somewhat confused at the sudden dramatic departure from the style that the previous two tracks have laid out up to this point. Following “The Eyes of Age” is “Alice’s Eerie Dream,” which initially made me think that the songs were taking a step back towards the more symphonic prog elements, but instead turned towards a straightforward classic hard rocker, very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. This is a well-executed piece with bluesy guitar fills scattered throughout and a nice slow section in the middle that really builds the tension and takes it back a little to the prog before returning to some more classic bluesy licks. Perhaps differentiating myself from Magnus and Hackett, in the end I wasn’t much of a fan of the departure from the more core, proggy sound of the first two tracks. Since you now know the opinion of two great prog legends versus one humble reviewer, I’ll let you decide.
The concluding album track, “The Last Oddity” brings it back to finish off with some spacey, psychedelic rock, which starts off very soft and dreamlike but then explodes, becoming laden with loads of synths Hammond. While not every moment of the track catches my attention, there are some sections of seriously head-bobbling groove on this number. If you’re in for some great psychedelic that would be fun to jam to, this is it. Lastly, for a bit of extra fun, Franck Carducci and the gang provide us with a fantastic tribute to the classic Genesis track, “The Carpet Crawlers.” While we miss Peter Gabriel’s iconic voice here, Carducci’s band does a solid job at interpreting the piece in a way that stays fairly true to the original while providing its own personalized touch, mostly in the very subtle instrumentation nuances like the constantly swelling violin and more present rhythm of strumming acoustic guitars.
As repeatedly stated, this is an album loaded with a varied approach; Carducci shows that he is skilled in a number of styles as he presents music and lyrics that are fully of soaring melodies, fantasy, and surprises. In the end, Oddity is an album that has a little bit for everyone and shows potential for upcoming releases