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Seven Percent Solution - Gabriel's Waltz CD (album) cover

GABRIEL'S WALTZ

Seven Percent Solution

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.50 | 2 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The sophomore album (and swan song, alas) from the more Spacious than Space Rock quartet from deep in the heart of Texas doesn't quite light up the neurons the way their debut album did three years earlier, an indication perhaps of the duress under which it was recorded. Drummer Scott Sasser, an integral part of the band's essential grooviness, left midway into the sessions, and the CD had to be assembled around his absence.

The effort was almost seamless, but it shows. There's a difference between a song without drums and a band without a drummer, and you can hear it throughout the problematic ebb and flow of an otherwise excellent album. From the haunted opening ambiance of "Dear Anne" (an elegy to manic- depressive poet Anne Sexton) the musical tension slowly builds toward an early climax in "Bruise", an obvious album (and career) highlight. The song unfolds like a compulsive bad trip, combining overlapped archival recitations of the Lord's Prayer with a suitably acid-fried guitar chorus, glowing with all the black light of a darker heaven.

After that the music traces an irregular but often spellbinding path across a broad spectrum of psychedelic ballads and southwest Texan Krautrock (not an oxymoron: listen to "Threshold", or the weird intuitive groove of "The Innocentes", for proof). The energy level collapses almost completely in the aptly-named "Dust and Ashes", before rising like an unexpected phoenix on the wings of another interstellar guitar solo. And from there it's a graceful descent to the gentle beauty of the title track: six minutes of blissful twin-guitar melancholy approaching the higher elevations of Post Rock territory.

One edition of the album adds an essential encore: a dynamic reading of the 1971 CAN melody "Oh Yeah". The song was one of several covers recorded by the group (alongside similar nods to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and the neo-psych trio Opal), each in its own way an improvement over the original. Besides acknowledging an obvious musical influence, the ascending rhythms of the Can classic allowed a kindred band of Inner Space explorers the chance to end their second album on a (rare) upbeat note.

Seven Percent Solution would persevere for several more years, sadly without ever outgrowing their cult attraction status. This was a group that could have (and would have) gone from strength to strength, if given the chance for wider exposure. But in retrospect they remain one of the best American rock bands to emerge from the end of the last millennium.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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