Paradigms Review in Dutch on RockMuzine and Esther Tiger’s blog

A new review in Dutch by on Rockmuzine online magazine and on Esther Tiger Kessel-Tamerus’ blog.
Esther gives the album a very high rating of 92/100

Semantic Saturation always know how to surprise me.

*****

SEMANTIC SATURATION – PARADIGMS

Shant Hagopian is een gitarist uit Canada. In richtte hij 2010 het prog rock/metal project Semantic Saturation op. Het idee achter het project is om op ieder album met een andere line-up te werken.
‘Paradigms’ is het tweede album. Hier werkten hele bekende proggers aan mee onder andere: Craig Blundell (Frost*/ Steven Wilson), Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex Pain of Salvation).

Het intro van ‘Mirrors of Confusion’ zou net zo goed een intro zijn van een blues-rock track kunnen zijn. Als de metal elementen naar boven komen weet je dat we wat anders voorgeschoteld krijgen. De metal wordt niet alleen met rock afgewisseld, maar ook met rustige stukjes. Zoals verwacht is het drumwerk zeer goed. De verdeling tussen ritme en melodie is prima. Deze openingstrack sterft heel mooi weg.

‘Carousel of Death’ heeft een strakke start. Er komen enkele hoge, elektronische klanken bij. Het ritme wordt afgewisseld met melodie. Er zijn veel wendingen, met bijvoorbeeld trompetspel dat een jazzy twist geeft. Door de hoeveelheid wendingen kom je bijna oren te kort. De opbouw is complex, toch weet Shant er een pakkende melodie en ritme in te verweven. Dit blijft aangenaam in je hoofd kleven. Met vlagen wordt er snel en strak gespeeld. Even later, soms zelfs tegelijkertijd, drijft de melodie boven. Zelfs de rusten zijn mooi gespeeld. Deze track heeft een gaaf einde.

‘Empty Whisky Jar’ heeft een rustige, chillende start. Ook hier zijn alle instrumenten in balans. De zang klinkt voornamelijk als instrument, maar is een prima aanvulling. Deze track blijft dromerig van sfeer. Voor het eerst is het einde is minder verrassend. Hoewel.. op het einde zijn de hele kleine details leuk toegevoegd.

Aanvankelijk heeft ‘Ulterior Harmony’ een pakkend ritme. De snaren zorgen voor de rock, die langzaam zwaarder en sneller wordt. Weer zijn er de onverwachte wendingen en combinaties die je eigenlijk zelf zou moeten horen. Hoge tonen van de toetsen worden door elkaar gehusseld, of juist afgewisseld, met de zware snaren. Deze soms merkwaardige of onrustige mengelmoes is prima uitgebalanceerd. Het tempo ligt hoog, terwijl de melodie behouden blijft. Dit alles is goed verdeeld over de koptelefoon. De gave zeer uitgebreide opbouw naar het einde is experimenteel van aard. Naadloos loopt dit over naar ‘Disturbance Within’. Na een rustige, experimentele start volgt een portie stevige rock. Weer is het gitaarwerk om je vingers bij af te likken. Elektronische klanken zorgen voor een sferisch einde.

Steeds weet ‘Semantic Saturation’ me te verrassen: In ‘Universal’ met pianoklanken. Er is een verandering naar meer rock, waar even vleugje Latijns Amerikaanse sfeer in zit. In dit stuk zitten volop wendingen. De piano keert voor korte tijd terug. Ook in het rustige deel zijn de laagjes prachtig verdeeld. Er is een plotselinge twist naar rock. Dit bevat een gaaf basloopje. Kortom, er is zo veel om naar te luisteren. Weer zit de opbouw naar het einde zeer goed in elkaar.

Ook ‘Where Dreams Have Died’ zit fantastisch in elkaar. Naar het einde toe wordt het mysterieuze stuk steeds zachter gespeeld, totdat je bijna niets meer hoort. Dan is het stil. Maar… de muziek keert terug. Dit duurt slechts een paar seconden, super wat een verrassend einde. Deze laatste track is een epic, wat een gave afsluiter.
Het artwork gemaakt is gemaakt door Shant, en ziet er zeer professioneel uit. Hij is bijzonder getalenteerd, dat heeft hij laten zien en horen. Want ik heb veel moois gehoord. Regelmatig was ik onder de indruk van het sublieme gitaarspel van Shant. Hij heeft, samen met zijn tijdelijke team, een zeer goed album gemaakt. (92/100) (Eigen beheer)

*****

Source: https://rockmuzine.nl/2018/08/17/semantic-saturation-paradigms/

http://kessel-tamerus.nl/Esthers_Blog/rock/semantic-saturation-paradigms/

Paradigms Review on Progressive Music Planet

TLDR;

Imagine if Joe Satriani joined up with Liquid Tension Experiment. If you like instrumental progressive rock/metal albums you should check this one out.

*****

Semantic Saturation – Paradigms

Posted on August 12, 2018 by Matthew (restlessamoeba)

I’m new to Semantic Saturation so I dove into this one without knowing anything about them. Figured I would give it a full, fresh, blind listen. And I enjoy what I hear.

The band is made up of creator Shant Hagopian and the featured musicians on this album are: drummer Craig Blundell (Frost* / Steven Wilson), bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex-Pain of Salvation) along with guests Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater), Alex Argento on keyboards, and jazz vocalist Houry Dora Apartian. A whole different set of musicians this time out (except for Derek). It seems Shant wants to change things up from album to album. Neat concept. The best I can do to describe this album is: imagine if Satriani joined up with Liquid Tension Experiment. A little simplistic of a summation but that it is what I hear for the most part.

Mirrors of Confusion, the first track, pretty much embodies that. Nice rocking track. And then we roll into Carousel of Death, the Satch sound takes a break and we go full on LTE. Pretty cool little big band breakdown, but the main theme gets a little repetitive for me. I do dig the heavier parts, though. Alex Argento is the guest keyboardist on this one. Video here.

Pareidolia shifts the gears down a bit and gives us a very melodic track. But really they all are. Semantic Saturation puts a heavy emphasis on melody. As they state, they don’t try to play all the notes really fast. They try to let the songs flow where they will. And they usually succeed!

Empty Whiskey Jar is next and we have reached the first track I really can’t stand. I am no fan of slow, bluesy, wahwah. But that is just me. You may like it. We are joined here by nice sounding, wordless female vocals, provided by the aforementioned Houry Dora Apartian, as well as some soulful guitar solos. YYMV on this track but my car broke down.

The Stranger from Andromeda brings us back into rock territory. Another like you would expect if Satch was part of LTE. Good song. Until We Meet Again offers up a nice laid back tune with a tinge of blues. One of those perfect for sitting outside one evening with you favorite beverage to relax. I really need to make a playlist of these types of songs as I find them. Love these.

Universal gives us a TSO like feel in the intro. Can’t remember the song it reminds me of at the moment. One of those slow keyboard solo numbers. Then it kicks into another mid-tempo rocker. More of that Satch feel coming at ya.

Where Dreams Have Died is the mini epic of the album and it travels a great distance through many styles with that ever present Satch style. Love the bells on the close of the track. Reminds me a bit of early David Arkenstone.

And we close out with a short little reprise of Carousel of Death. Then it’s game over. Inside joke here. Join me, will you?

Over all, this is a really good album. If you like instrumental progressive rock/metal albums you should check this one out. The special edition CD/DVD, includes play-along tracks, so that is a neat feature.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:

  1. Mirrors Of Confusion 4:41
  2. Carousel Of Death 4:54
  3. Pareidolia 4:52
  4. Empty Whisky Jar 3:40
  5. The Stranger From Andromeda 5:06
  6. Until We Meet Again 4:18
  7. Ulterior Harmony 6:58
  8. Disturbance Within 4:36
  9. Universal 6:41
  10. Where Dreams Have Died 10:33

Label: Self Released
Release Date: 20 August 2018
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SemanticSaturation/
Website: http://www.semanticsaturation.com/

*****

Source: https://progressivemusicplanet.com/2018/08/12/semantic-saturation-paradigms/

Paradigms Review by My Global Mind Magazine

TLDR;

Another chapter has been added to the Big Book of Prog with the sophomore release of Paradigms. Semantic Saturation rightfully takes its place at the table with many other forward-thinking musicians who keep the progressive music fresh and alive.
*****

Semantic Saturation – Paradigms Review

Where does instrumental music fit into our society these days? Especially if it’s not jazz or classical, both styles typically noted for not really having a voice (yes, I am aware that both have vocals at times as well. Just going with the predominant thought pattern on both.) The day of the shred album has long since gone, though some of those guys and gals from back in the day (and a handful of notable newbies) still keep that flame burning. I’m talking straight out instrumental songs, not designed to feature crazy solos, but music… songs that could’ve had someone singing throughout, but the band opted to stick with just the instrumental voice. Bands like Scale the Summit and Animals As Leaders create some brilliant stuff but haven’t much of a chance of becoming the next summertime hit with the Pop loving bunch. As a former guitarist, I adore instrumental work, though I don’t often find myself so inclined to listen to it much on a regular basis. With a band Like Semantic Saturation it’s refreshing to hear a band not afraid to go strictly musical, and do it while at the same time not having it spiral into some self-absorbed show-off fest.

Their second album, Paradigms, is a tasty ten-course meal that serves up some truly delectable treats. Guitarist and mastermind behind the project Shant Hagopian has constructed a brilliant line-up of ultra-talented musicians to bring his vision to life. The guitar work alone on this album is enough to keep ones rapt attention for years to come, but there is also some divine keyboard work from guys like Derek Sherinian and Alex Argento, bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw creates a pulsing, vibrant flow with his skills, and drummer Craig Blundell keeps everything in perfect time. There is a brief bit of vocals from Houry Dora Apartian that is mostly jazz riffing or scatting. Even though there are times throughout this album that you get that whole Prog battle between the musicians there is plenty of space in those notes too. The frenzied chaos of “Ulterior Harmony” is juxtaposed by a bouncy “Carousel of Death” and then brought to a close by the epic “Where Dreams Have Died.”

Another chapter has been added to the Big Book of Prog with the sophomore release of Paradigms. Semantic Saturation rightfully takes its place at the table with many other forward-thinking musicians who keep the progressive music fresh and alive. Hagopian has certainly got enough talent and ability to keep this project going for a long while, and creates soundscapes worthy of any musician to want to join him in the future based on the two albums thus far.

Written by: Chris Martin

Ratings: 8/10

*****

Source: https://myglobalmind.com/2018/08/11/semantic-saturation-paradigms-review/

Paradigms Review by Sonic Perspectives

TLDR;

Albums do still matter and can be an art form, and should be treated as if every song counts – because it does. The complete roller coaster ride that is Paradigms is a testament to how well it can still be done today, and Hagopian deserves praise for what is a well-planned story he and his cohorts tell.
Each song has its own unique personality and feel, full of melody and technical fireworks when needed, but most importantly, it takes this genre back to a time when it maybe wasn’t so stale or predictable.
*****

Semantic Saturation – Paradigms (Album Review)
By AUSTIN KOKEL August 6, 2018

Think about how it feels when a musician leaves one of your favorite bands, or even worse, most of the band packs up and quits, leaving one central musician to carry on alone. Well, that’s what happens with Semantic Saturation on every album, and it’s by design. Guitarist and composer Shant Hagopian started the project in 2010, and now in 2018, the band project is set to release a sophomore effort with Hagopian the only main musician returning from one album to the next. That idea is actually the foundation of what Semantic Saturation strives for… to keep it fresh and interesting with each new album. It was difficult to see how that would go after just one album (2013’s Solipsistic) but now that we’re seeing it happen as the release of the new album Paradigms is on the horizon, just how well does it work?

The main power trio of the first album was comprised of Hagopian on guitars, Virgil Donati on drums, and Ric Fierabracci on bass, with a lot of keyboard work performed by quite possibly the most unique keyboardist on the planet, Derek Sherinian (though he is listed as a special guest, whereas the others were featured musicians, with a shout-out to Andy Kuntz on lead vocals for a bit). Now, on the follow-up effort, the only returning musicians are Hagopian, of course, and a significantly smaller (but not lesser) contribution from Sherinian. Our new lineup for this album is completed by drummer Craig Blundell (who seems to be everywhere these days, which is a high-class problem) and bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw (most known for his time in Pain of Salvation, and for his more recent solo albums), with additional keyboard work from Alex Argento, and some dreamy vocalizations from Houry Dora Apartian.

So, to answer the question above, it works surprisingly well. Admittedly, this new album does have a slightly different feel from Solipsistic, whereas Donati‘s drums gave a larger-than-life sound, and Blundell plays his cards a bit closer to his chest, if you will… which is not to diminish his playing, because he’s a fantastic drummer and one of this reviewer’s favorites currently (with his work with John Mitchell in KINO and Lonely Robot, and Steven Wilson these days) but Donati has a style that’s pretty immediately recognizable, similar to a Terry Bozzio, Mike Portnoy, or Bill Bruford. So, to follow up a debut album with a different drummer, there will surely be some departure in sound, but that might also work in Paradigms‘ favor, as Blundell is an extremely solid drummer whose performance on this album is full of groove, power, and playing in the pocket when called for.

Gildenlöw provides his own unique contributions to this album – playing with feeling and subtlety on fingered fret-less bass at times, but also adding surgical precision and hard rock prowess for the majority of the record, in unison with Hagopian and Blundell when needed, and holding down the low-end superbly at any other point. Probably his most tasteful contribution is in this reviewer’s surprise favorite song on the album, the tender ballad “Until We Meet Again”, where his high fills are subtle and pleasing to the ear, and his walking bass during Hagopian‘s soloing is just what the song needs. Bassists never receive the recognition they deserve (speaking from experience here,) but even the most understated of performances can be exactly what a song needs. It’s also nice to hear Kristoffer Gildenlöw after his recent solo album, The Rain, being part of an ensemble again and being the underrated bassist that Pain of Salvation fans loved for a couple of decades, and likely still do.

That brings us to Shant Hagopian, the mastermind of the project. Admittedly, he is not a household name in the prog-rock community, but after one listen to Paradigms, it’s hard to see why he isn’t one. His playing style is a lot of what we love about our favorite guitarists, especially with a lot of John Petrucci at times, all chameleon-ized into whatever the album needs at any given moment. His clean playing is understated and gentle, his lead melodies are singable to the point where Joe Satriani could be jealous, his speed and shredding are tasty and never self-indulgent, and yet his greatest strength might be as a band leader. His compositions are fantastic, and full of melody, and as you know this album was probably all recorded in home studios and then put together, the entire thing feels very cohesive and has a complete band feel to it. And yet where it might shine the most, and something that people might not think about these days, is in its track sequencing.

The entire work has a great album feel to it, with the highs and lows right where they should be, and the introspective quiet moments giving the listener exactly the break that is needed at the right times. One of the best moments on the album, which works so well, is the seamless transition between the two songs “Ulterior Harmony” and “Disturbance Within”, which come together to work as a yin and yang of songs, and complement each other so well. The listener is taken from one song that is reminiscent of an outer-space epic akin to Satriani‘s Crystal Planet, with its insane keyboard and guitar delay arpeggios, screaming lead parts, and crunching seven-string rhythm parts, into a softer and more emotional side of space, like so much George Clooney in Solaris, with a heavy-yet-light chord progression in line with today’s newer bands like Sithu Aye, Plini, or even TesseracT. And the whole thing works incredibly well together.

Even when it’s time to start winding down, Hagopian sets us up perfectly with an album pre-closer of “Universal”, to lead up to the actual finale that is the epic-length “Where Dreams Have Died” (and please, be sure to listen all the way to the end). In this era of singles and downloads, and hitting shuffle on streaming sites, albums do still matter and can be an art form, and should be treated as if every song counts – because it does. And the complete roller coaster ride that is Paradigms is a testament to how well it can still be done today, and Hagopian deserves praise for what is a well-planned story he and his cohorts tell.

The album, while not entirely breaking new ground, knows what it needs to do and does it well. The bluesy opening riff belies what comes next, with everything from Sevendust-detuned-groove and swagger, to brass and New Orleans band moments that Diablo Swing Orchestra would love, to the aforementioned sweet and sour singing passage from Houry Dora Apartian, to even piano balladry and just a slight hint of chip-tune, and plenty of great keyboard moments all throughout. The first album, Solipsistic, felt a bit like a love letter to Liquid Tension Experiment at times, and while good, was maybe a bit too safe. And with Paradigms, it feels like anything goes, and often does… maybe that’s the inspiration for the album title? And that’s what, most likely, is what draws many listeners back to this style of music, the promise of hearing something new or unexpected, that still is cohesive within a whole.

Paradigms is good upon a first listen, very good after a few listens, and something of a grower over time, as it will likely open itself up more and more to the listener, with repeated listens. Each song has its own unique personality and feel, full of melody and technical fireworks when needed, but most importantly, it takes this genre back to a time when it maybe wasn’t so stale or predictable. It’s actually fun to listen to. Remember listening to progressive metal in the ’90s, and it was a little wacky and new, and the style championed by Dream Theater or Symphony X felt simply fun and exciting? That’s how Paradigms feels. It honors its roots, but has its own potpourri-like identity, and shows the listener a good time, and gives them all of the emotion that an album should, along the way.

Not to compare apples and oranges, but this album is a much more unique and inspired record than its predecessor, though that album is quite good in its own right, and should be heard before embarking on this adventure. While it’s respectable that Hagopian founded this project on the principle that each album would have its own unique identity by changing out band members, it’s a shame we won’t hear the trio of Shant Hagopian, Craig Blundell, and Kristoffer Gildenlöw together again (at least in the studio,) as it’s quite a special concoction. Shant Hagopian might not be a household name, but his work with Semantic Saturation is something special, and unique in a genre slowly becoming a sea of homogeneous bands, and if he keeps putting forth work of this level of quality, he’ll hopefully soon earn the acclaim he deserves.

*****

Source: https://www.sonicperspectives.com/album-reviews/semantic-saturation-paradigms/

Paradigms Review By Prog Radar

TLDR;

As instrumental albums go ‘Paradigms’ is an absolute monster featuring such amazing tracks. The riffs and grooves come thick and fast almost giving you no pause to really appreciate the mind blowing musical structures and spellbinding melodies.
*****

Review – Semantic Saturation – Paradigms – by Progradar

Does anybody remember Infectious Grooves? The funk metal supergroup led by Suicidal Tendencies frontman Mike Muir released a completely bonkers album in 1991 called ‘The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move…It’s The Infectious Grooves.’ It was so out there it made my CD collection and I’ve yet to hear anything come close to that infectious energy that the album contained.

Fast forward to 2013 Semantic Saturation (a progressive rock/progressive metal project founded by Canadian guitarist Shant Hagopian) release their debut album ‘Solipsistic’ featuring progressive metal gurus such as drummer Virgil Donati, bassist Ric Fierabracci and guests; keyboardist Derek Sherinian (ex. Dream Theater) and vocalist Andy Kuntz (Vanden Plas). A dizzying and complex release that has touches of the spirit of Infectious Grooves hidden in its convoluted depths.

After 5 years wait virtuoso guitarist Shant returns with the mind blowing ‘Paradigms’, this time aided and abetted by legendary musicians, drummer Craig Blundell and bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw. The album also features guest musicians, some of the greatest names in metal, with Derek Sherinian returning to feature on the track Ulterior Harmony, Alex Argento on Carousel of Death and the lovely jazz vocalist Houry Dora Apartian on Empty Whisky Jar.

As instrumental albums go ‘Paradigms’ is an absolute monster featuring such amazing tracks as the powerfully funkadelic opener Mirrors of Confusion and it’s identical twin Carousel of Death which are a real echo of that Infectious Grooves monster of 27 years previous. On the former, edgy, thunderous guitar combine with Blundell’s cacophony of drumbeats and Gildenlöw’s stylish bass drives all before it. It’s a grin inducing roller coaster ride and one you don’t want to get off. The latter takes you on an insane, acid jazz trip through a really warped mind where Alex Argento stands tall like a crazed professor.

The infectious grooves (see what I did there?) of Pareidolia give a moments pause of foot tapping energy before calm is finally restored with the elegance of Empty Whiskey Jar where Houry Dora Apartian adds her sultry jazz vocals.

The riffs and grooves come thick and fast almost giving you no pause to really appreciate the mind blowing musical structures and spellbinding melodies. Personal favourites are the intelligently constructed charm of Until We Meet Again, the otherworldly experience of Disturbance Within and the calm and collected polish of classic rocker Universal.

This magical experience is completed by Where Dreams Have Died, a ten minute journey that becomes Shant’s grand paradigm of musical intrigue and astounding mastery. It is an elaborate, baroque composition that trades on each musician’s undoubted skill and dexterity to deliver a sublime listening experience.

As the last note fades out a small but knowing smile appears on my face as I reminisce back to 1991. ‘Paradigms’ is a wonderfully complex and accomplished piece of work but, deep at its core this album is full of incredibly infectious grooves. Shant Hagopian and your stellar cast of musicians please take a bow for this fantastic achievement.

Released 20th August 2018

Order the album in various formats direct from the band’s website

*****

Source: https://www.progradar.org/index.php/2018/08/01/review-semantic-saturation-paradigms-by-progradar/