I like Klone because I can hear a band who strike me as trying hard to do a good job, a modern job amongst all the dare I say “clones” out there of other bands.
Klone I imagine can deliver some moments live that will put them up there with the best (the riffs in certain places certainly suggest that) but here is where the problems lie for me – the contradiction is a little too obvious for me.
Ok, so while you read this you’ll probably think “this guy doesn’t like Klone” and in many ways that is what you’d reckon, but you’d be wrong.
Klone is a progressive, psychedelic band from Poitiers, France formed in 1999. “Duplicate” (2003) was their first studio recording (David Ledoux then was their singer but he was to be replaced by Yann Ligner). After they signed to Season of Mist, Klone took the opportunity to broaden their fan base, distributing the album as far as Australia. Thanks to its success, Klone played in a series of 25 gigs which culminated with a slot at Hellfest in 2008. Gojira’s vocalist, Joe DuPlantier, sang on the eponymous track on one of their albums. The band often throw in some strange instruments not much used on the actual metal scene. Saxophone, harp, Chinese flute and multiple electronic arrangements. Anyway, on to this album.
While they have taken from many bands to create their own sound – over the years undoubtedly – like every band does (name a band who hasn’t and I’ll give you a thousand smarties) they also sound like that to my ears – a band that I can clearly take the elements of the bands they have borrowed from. I like prog even though I personally as a musician won’t play it as it’s too long winded too often, and Klone are no different here. Their songs have many moments of originality, with some really powerful 7-string/down-tuned riffs that take me into metal like I like, and they manage to borrow from that Tree that Porcupine Tree lay their hat.
There are some very distinct King Crimson (The ConstruKction of Light) moments, but the moments are just moments. If you’re going to borrow, steal everything from them or not at all. To borrow the smallest of moments suggests they are either doing it on purpose to suggest their leanings, or dare I say they aren’t capable musically to really carry off the Robert Fripp/Trey Gunn lines of prog insanity that make the best prog…the best! This makes for frustrating listening at times with The Dreamer’s Hideaway.
The vocal melodies are for my ears borrowing too much from Steve Wilsons bag of melodic idiosyncrasies (long, open lines that lead into semi-tone minor melodies) and the lyrics are not as obvious as one might find with PT and Wilson, but are kind of necessary to get drawn into the music – I want to hear the words. I’m not sure whether they are worth hearing because I can’t hear them, and this is the problem with a lot of prog I find. If you do metal then that’s fine, it’s about the impact of the delivery – the lyric does not HAVE to make sense – but in prog it’s as important as the music, it has a beautiful intense meaning that I want to hear to put me into the setting the music is creating – this is what prog is about – making me drift into and out of musical settings of intense moments and beautiful oceans and swathes of a sonic palette.
This may sound pretentious, and guess what…it is, and that is because essentially prog IS pretentious, but that’s why we love it, it’s giving you a film setting using music for you to disappear into.
I suppose Klone have succeeded in this way. You do fall into their world if you listen from beginning to end of this album “The Dreamer’s Hideaway”, but I want more than that and imagine it should really be providing more than that to keep your interest there for repeated listening. The playing is without noodling and fret swanking like you find all too often in many prog bands which is quite refreshing, with the band rather laying out a bedrock of harmonic guitars and keyboards that the beautiful vocal passion can sit on, and there is an interesting yet “unclear as to why” cameo from King X’s Doug Pinnick on The Finger Snaps, which ends in a quite abrupt manner that I’m not used to.
The albums production can at times be a little frustrating to listen to, mainly as the band to my ears are trying to fit in possibly amongst the ridiculously over-compressed domain that has been building up over the years, with the chagrin of many a purist (myself included with this) agreeing this is a mistake (no more so than with Metallicas last album setting the limit as to what our ears can withstand, or not as might be the case) but admittedly it is hard to mix and get a good sound with so much going on, and Klone have still done this surprisingly well – the opener is a real treat to listen to.
I think it is a shame that more bands don’t follow Porcupine Trees angle with progressive music production, and one angle that Klone can borrow just a smidgen of – less is more in the soundscape with prog production – there is a constant fullness with Klone’s sound which is in a way unique and if they do this live then it could be a gem for people wanting to fall into an ethereal musical space – on album it makes the album quite heavy which i can’t see as being à`negative. I think they might have approached this album a little differently for it to work how I imagine they wanted it to work but still, it’s a worthy listen.
They may be a treat live with this, if you can allow yourself to fall into the sonic palate they provide here.