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Diatessaron: Sunshine

Self-styled ‘condensed prog’ from Calgary.

Active since 2007, Diatessaron have taken a while to get around to their full-length debut. Not that they’re an idle bunch: the quintet have issued a trio of EPs since then, the most striking being 2011’s 35-minute prog symphony Monument.

It’s no surprise, then, to discover that Sunshine is similarly ambitious. At the heart of the album is the title track, a 20-minute suite in three movements that lulls you into a sense of ambient repose before cutting loose with the guitar-prog of Sunshine II: The Horizon and climaxing with the more holistic Sunshine III: Never Ends. It’s a piece that suggests these Canadians know their way around the Genesis songbook, and that of fellow countrymen Rush, but there’s also a very modish patina of art-rock in place here. Frontman Simon TJ has the kind of androgynous voice that’s pitched somewhere between Placebo’s Brian Molko and the young Feargal Sharkey, while there are sudden ruptures of jazz and It Bites-ish power pop. It has to be said that Diatessaron don’t always convince, their sheer pluralism meaning that they sometimes stretch themselves too thinly. But there’s more than enough here to warrant further investigation.