Specimen13 is the project of graphic artist and drummer Denis Rodier and ex-Talisma guitarist Martin Vanier. Readers my recognize Rodier as the illustrator of the Superman comics over the last decade, but also Batman and Captain America. The two men had some rather impressive assistance in this project including performance by Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, et al) on the Chapman Stick, Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mr.Mister, et al) on drums, Trey Gunn (King Crimson, et al) on Warr guitar, and Markus Reuter (The Crimson Project, Stick Men, Tuner) on the U8 Touch guitar to name only a few. I'm sure this simple list of prog legends will create plenty of interest for their first recording, Echosystem.
Roder and Vanier are definitely in the progressive rock realm with this album, but perhaps rock fusion would be a better description. Besides basic melodic progressive rock, Specimen also merges sounds of electronica, industrial and even some jazz highlights. Many times throughout this work the soundscapes venture between ethereal and eerie in the arrangements and programming. When the guitar, bass and drums were less prominent the music often reminded me of a soundtrack for a 50's sci-fi movie. I found this within Icarus and Juggernaut, but almost entirely in the final song, Torngat. Yet, a more generous and complex arrangement, Citoyen Robot, speaks more to traditional progressive rock. It's likely the casual listener to prog may find Echosystem sway from simply eccentric to odd curiosity to basically inaccessible. If anything, it's certainly an exercise in creativity and intrigue by Rodier and Vanier. Look for graphic novel by Rodier to go with a future release.
With the help of some prog legends, illustrator and drummer Denis Rodier and guitarist Martin Vanier unleash Specimen13 and Echosystem, intriguing and challenging progressive rock fusion.
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