After starting as a foursome way back in 2005, Dubliners Cathal Rodgers (Bass, Keys) and Greg Clarke (Guitars, Keys, Effects) are now left carrying aloft the flag of ‘Parhelia’ as a duo only. The facts behind such a dwindling band membership remain unpublished in the band bio, however, these two very talented guys have together composed an album of immense progressive rock diversity and interest. Eight solid tracks of stimulating tuneful instrumental rock music. Indeed the album ‘Celestial Horizons’, here under review, stands testament not only to their creative instrumental prowess but also to their studio engineering skills in moulding together the complications of multi-tracking of their various instrumental contributions into the mix.
In a sense, the entire affair could be considered as an abstract cinematic journey. Not necessarily, as suggested by the title ‘Celestial Horizons’, a cosmic foray into some heavenly space, but more like a focussed soundtrack to accompany, perhaps, the journey of a river through the topography of different landscapes and geographical features. The haunting soundscapes created by the deeply resonant yet tuneful bass together with the intricate and influential lead guitar could just as easily be contributed to many dramatic scenarios. Especially modern-day happenings that greet us daily in the news. This is certainly because the music has both tempo and a mysterious atmospheric edge. Listening to the album, each track folds neatly into one long symphonic piece, with the entire album suggesting a conceptual storyline. This is further reinforced by the fact that there seems utterly no temptation what so ever to pick out specific tracks for individual listening as opposed to playing the entire album every time from start to finish.
The soundtrack(s) containing the drumming sequences have been extremely well integrated into the body of the music such that it would take a seasoned studio professional to pick out that the drummer was not actually in attendance when the guitar and bass lines were laid down.
Certainly, this is the type of music best served up sitting in a comfortable armchair with headphones tightly clamped and the listener being in a heightened state of concentration. There is, throughout all of the tracks, a vast amount of harmonic variation together with many subtle changes of direction and the complexity of deft chord manipulations. Especially, interesting is focusing on how the lead and bass guitars interact with each other incongruent fashion to create some beautiful and totally stimulating sequences.
Of course, with subsequent plays, other snippets of musical charm pop up and emerge from the score that were previously hidden behind the guitar and bass line complexities. In this respect, little keyboard flurries and synthesiser fills come to the fore combining neatly with the music to elevate, emphasise and finalise the laid down core of arrangements.
‘Parhelia’ fit really neatly in a unique space where, if desired, they could easily draft in additional musicians and take their show on the road. But equally, with such a wealth of compositional ideas, they have sufficient talent to produce a music service for the cinema or any of the other many media outlets.
Track List -Celestial Horizons (2020)
1. A Lonesome Journey
2. Celestial Horizons
3. Olympus Mons
4. Open Heart
5. Stars Align
6. The Veil of Truth
7. Maps of Meaning
8. Closing Chapter
From the web:-
Parhelia are an instrumental rock band who originally formed in Dublin, Ireland in 2005. Their music sits somewhere between a prog and post rock style and is often referred to as being more direct or refined than either. In the beginning the band consisted of four members, Currently Cathal Rodgers (Bass, Keys) and Greg Clarke (Guitars, Keys, Effects) remain.
Parhelia have released two Ep’s – First Light (2006) and Oceans Apart (2007) and two LP’s Shifting Sands (2009) and The Precipice of Change (2013) to date. Their third full length album Celestial Horizons (2020).
Parhelia have undertaken tours or appeared alongside acts like Anathema, Katatonia, 65 Days of Static & God is an Astronaut in the past however they do not perform live anymore.