Fractal Cypher may not have been overpoweringly persuasive with their debut, The Human Paradox, released in 2016, which was largely forgotten and fairly quickly too. It may have had some shining moments, but was at length not an album for the history books. To show they’re still active, the Canadian prog outfit released an EP in November of 2018, titled Prelude to an Impending Outcome, and it hits a number of the marks that the debut album just barely failed to reach. Now, it may be a mere four track EP, but at a runtime of 34 minutes it is still longer than what many acts try to pass of as full lengths these days, and its concise format leaves no room for filler or redundancy.
While the sound is largely an expansion of what they did on their debut album, there is a tangible difference in that the material here feels heaps more inspired and energetic. From lift off to orbit and to beyond, it all feels like a work of love and devotion, the format letting them focus on the important aspects of the music. Fractal Cypher also show off less of the harsh side that felt quite amiss on the debut, which works well for the whole of the EP which instead gives more place for Simon Lavoie’s finely tuned cleans and interesting, ever innovative noodling from Vincent Bruneau’s guitars; sometimes even some sweet lead dueling between Bruneau and keyboardist Ludovick Daoust, for example in glorious highlight From the Above and to the Stars, as well as experimental touches and flairs in more fast moving The Grandeur of it All.
There is also a uniform feel in between the songs, as they are all connected in theme and setting (presumably continuing from the debut). Opening track Coming Back to Life starts off slow with piano trillings and evolves into a slow cooking ballad for the first few minutes, before it unleashes the progressive revelry, slow and building. There is great riffing to be found, as well as some furious leads and solos, but above all they all contribute so much to the whole that there is not a moment of the 34 minutes that could be picked out. The songwriting is in focus, as well as the overall atmosphere, and at that Fractal Cypher has greatly succeeded. This EP is a great piece of work, hopefully to be followed by a full length equally inspired.
Standout tracks: From the Above and to the Stars, Red Lady