Canvas Solaris – Penumbra Diffuse (CD)

This is the first completely instrumental metal act that I’ve got my hands on. The tracks work really well for someone that is doing household chores, but there are only a few tracks that shine with any sort of intensity. Intensity does come during a track like “Accidents in Mutual Silence”, but there still seems to be a few cobwebs present in Canvas Solaris’ music. If one is looking for eclectic uses of styles and stop-start arrangements that will make one gasp in wonder, Canvas Solaris is the band to look for. There are quite a few interesting arrangements during “Accidents”, but these are not the time when the band’s guitars get all noodly on us, but with the most simple and deadpan arrangements the band can muster.

With these arrangements, Canvas Solaris still comes up with enough new material to keep the album fresh. There seems to be some problem here even in the shortest tracks (for Canvas Solaris, this is about four minutes), where the band goes back to the same well one too many times on a track like “Accidents”. I can understand the band going and changing things up a little bit if they do repeat, but far from just linking the track together, these repetitious pieces fail to lend much to the track after the fifth or sixth time heard. Canvas Solaris may just be the only metal band that easily comes to mind to actually use a bongo on their track, using it in a major way with “Vaihayasa”. While I have no clue where the term comes from, “Vaihayasa” is nonetheless a fitting title for the track, which has an African/Middle Eastern sound to it that recalls Reza or Cheb I Sabbah.

By far, the most interesting of the tracks on “Penumbra Diffuse” has to be “To Fracture”, which has a certain heaviness to it that does not only come through a brutal set of arrangements, but through an emotional investment on the track that is shown through the soulful playing. The band seems to work better when they are not constrained by time; both the eleven-minute “Horizontal Radiant” and the 7-minute “To Fracture” are some of the most memorable tracks that the band cuts on “Penumbra Diffuse”. Canvas Solaris is not a cheese-puff metal band with easily telegraphed guitar riffs and drums, but one actually has to listen in a number of times before taking in all that the band has to offer.

Top Track: To Fracture

Rating: 6.0/10

Canvas Solaris – Penumbra Diffuse / 2006 The Laser’s Edge / 7 Tracks / http://www.canvassolaris.net / http://www.lasercd.com / Reviewed 24 January 2006

[JMcQ]

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