"A Pleasant Fiction" (A Necessary Angel/Percy Howard; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Depending on one’s perspective, the breadth of styles in what is termed heavy metal and hard rock (not necessarily extreme music) is a blessing and a curse. The fact that the ambient style has been included in heavy metal’s scope is a source of much debate. But if one believes that heavy metal is defined more by the passion and dedication of the performer then the debate loses its central arguments.

Percy Howard developed the Meridiem project as a way for him to express his classically trained singing style in a more progressive manner – this approach combines ambient, progressive rock, jazz, soul, and classical styles in unique ways. The Meridiem project has been a collaborative effort featuring the talents of many individuals both in and out of the metal and hard rock styles. Percy Howard’s Merdiem project includes the likes of Vernon Reid (Living Color), Buckethead (Guns N Roses), Jarboe (Swans), Bill Laswell (Praxis, Herbie Hancock) among many others.

“A Pleasant Fiction” plays out like a soundtrack to a film that explores the themes of love and spirituality as the thrust of the lyrics. The pacing is deliberately slow and unusually quiet – as such “A Pleasant Fiction” is an understated voyage. An unlikely cover forms the heart of the first half of the disc. Tim Buckley’s “Chase the Blues Away” is a dramatic revision that is cinematic in development and bombastic in its conclusion. “The East” is the disc’s heaviest number in which ambient landscapes give way to a near apocalyptic disintegration. The title track crackles like an untamed fire. “Can I Get A Witness” recalls the gospel-tinged emotion of King’s X. Funk gets a turn in “Where You Stand.” In all cases the songs bear the imprint of a minimalist approach that allows the imagination to explore the album’s themes with open ears.

“A Pleasant Fiction” is for the adventurous music listener that is receptive to new approaches to the progressive rock style.

“A Pleasant Fiction” was produced by Percy Howard.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 28 Aug 2022 15:32:20 -0400.