I love the CD sleeve for this album - it's very old school, like those posters from the earlier years of the previous century - all ink and limited colour washes, with a swirling font reminiscent of old movie posters or carnival signs. It folds out into a semi-poster, with a photograph of the band. They're so young! Also there is a very cool stylised crow in a tophat. The colour palette is limited to blue, purple and red, giving it a saturated and melancholic feel.
The CD opens with the staticky and disjointed "Shortwave Intro" which is reminscent of how we used to tune our radios, with little snippets of the ghosts along the airwaves. Then it rips into "Panorama". The song is erratic, with a cruisy chorus and rather strange lyrics:
"Somber drama, rolling down hill. Panorama, all is still. Anyway, anyhow; anyway, anyhow.""Clouds in the House" is a somewhat more rhythmic number. Similarly jerky verses, smooth chorus and surreal, but poetic, lyrics.
The ocean beckons us into "The Prow" which is a pirate-esque style. From the cover, you're expecting it.
"Best Regards" is slightly rockier, but follows the same structure. It seems to be about waiting on the mail, for a letter to arrive. Ah, nostalgia. This reminds me of the days when I would wait on the mail. However, in this case it seems to concern a correspondent of a more personal nature.
Now we're into carnival theme - with "Twin Dummy" and reading the lyric sheet I now realise I've been hearing the words wrong all this time.
"The Circus left without me, and I'm alone with you now..."I always thought it was "I'm in love with you now..." Hmmmm.
A somewhat cruisier number, "Angel Rat" is a haunting song which allows Snake better range with his vocals. He really has rather a nice voice - not very deep, but smooth and a little nutty. For some reason, the line: "Rat or Angel, does one really know?" really tickles my fancy, for some reason.
"Golem" is a slightly creepy little number - if you listen to the lyrics. It's another haunting and weird little song, with repeating vocals, erratic pacing and dissonant guitar chords.
We have a little harmonica in "The Outcast".
I like the chorus in "Nuage Fractal" which seems to have a slightly sci-fi-ish feel. I get the feeling that Voivod write their lyrics via stream of consciousness, because although they flow well and sound neat, they do not make a great deal of sense. I suppose that is poetry for you.
Starting off as more standard rock music, "Freedom". I suppose this is a ballad. It is very mellow and the music is melancholic and straightforward, instead of erratic and dissonant, although it does turn more typical-Voivod towards the end.
"None of the Above" concludes the album.
In summary - this is a somewhat more mainstream feel for Voivod - more rock than the thrash of their previous albums. It is somewhat soothing, despite the dissonant nature of the music. I enjoyed it as a whole, but I think the tracks are more effective individually, as they almost all feature a similar structure. It is quirky, and different, and I am pleased to see that the band are still releasing albums. I wonder what they sound like now?
My Rating = 7/10.
* From their wikipedia page. I don't actually know what a "time signature" is - but the music has a slightly jerky, discordant feel that is jarring yet not.