CD Review

Regard Extreme – “Utopia”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

UtopiaUtopia for many might be a calm existence in a removed atmosphere with little to no external interference, perhaps accompanied by friends and agreeable music. An existence filled with plenty and only a few to share it with. Drawing upon this analogy, consider Regard Extreme's Utopia, an object filled with seemingly grand and amenable music.

Upon the opening of Utopia, one gets the idea he or she might have wandered onto a serious movie with only the film score playing, no voice track. The bigger problem is, it appears the music has been put on loop. Fabian Nicault has found a synthesizer groove that suits him, much as Phil Collins or Creed or even the Ramones or Motorhead found grooves in their respective genres. Find a niche, clobber it to death; it's a guaranteed winner. In this case, Nicault's Regard Extreme has nothing to lose, except his audience.

Regard Extreme uses a simple formula, much like rock and rollers use a simple three-chord structure; swaying synths moving constantly in up and down scale fashion. For example, Broceliande and Lorsque Fujent Les Reves are two songs identical to one another with the same engaging synth rhythms, left to flounder alone for two minutes, then picked up by a hammer beat that sounds slinky upon first listen, sadly repetitive after a while. Blessures Eternelles is not much different, really, nor is Folie Pure.

On the other hand, Melodie Dos Spectres and Le Sang Des Martyrs have tribal like beats in the beginning of the songs, giving hope for something different, but they too are followed by the familiar, ad nauseum synth arrangements. Try as it might to sound ostentatious and flamboyant, Utopia produces an eventual vertigo sensation, regardless that the music really isn't that bad. Unfortunately, the exercise is like getting tied to a chair with an old, scratchy record stuck on skip, powerless to do anything to the needle to move it along.

The synths on Utopia do sound larger than life, even extreme sometimes, but the bottom line is, the listener is desperately trying to stay attuned, for which he or she is rewarded with the same song as the one before it, not unlike AC/DC's Flick of the Switch. Still, credit where it's due. The orchestration Nicault has organized is nicely structured with maybe a few deviations here and there to give a little hope, but as refreshing as they are, the redundancy of Utopia simply wears the listener down. If this is utopia, I'll stay in my 10-6 job, thanks.

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