Album Title: 
Chapter II
Release Date: 
Monday, August 1, 2011
Review Type: 

Huh...weird name for a “band”...but then, why would a person nót call his project after a cryptocrystalline form of silica (composed of very fine intergrowths of the silica minerals quartz and maganite)? With its waxy luster, semi-transparant aspect, and assuming a wide range of colours (although usually white to grey, greying blue, or a shade of brown ranging from pale to almost black), I can certainly understand why the mineral may have spoken to the artist's imagination! (P.S.: mineral description taken from Wikipedia)

Anyway, when my editor-in-chief handed over the CD of this artist, I lifted an eyebrow question-wize, thinking “Industrial promoted by Two Side Moon?”, at which The Chief answered, “Looks like a Marilyn Manson wannabe, uh?”...he could not have been farther from the fact, we both were deceived by first appearances! Because the music played by the artist whom likes to go under the name of Chalcedony, is actually a very piano and keyboard (for orchestral parts) based Progressive Rock...with somewhat of a dark, say Gothic side!

The Sussex (UK) based artist Chalcedony (real name Dan Wilson) claims his fixation for the piano goes back to his earliest childhood, when a somewhat rebellious 5 or 6 year-old tried to play on the school's piano whenever the cover was off, just to find out how long it would take him to be caught...because the children weren't allowed to “play” the instrument, you know! Well, his teachers may have tried to prevent the young one to stray into music, but the lad's parents actually encouraged it, buying him his first keyboard. That was still unsatisfactory to the kid, as he preferred the feel of play on the grand piano. That changed somewhat when his parents eventually bought him a Clavinona – weighted keys, sustain, and sensitivity. He practiced every day starting with chopsticks and “Golden Axe”, and then started to compose his own pieces. Secondary school was better for the youngster, musically speaking, as he would be allowed to play on the grand piano during each break. He mainly bored the hell out of everyone playing the same tunes over and over again, but in the end it help the artist getting better technique. Eventually, that grand piano is where he wrote his Fantasy Sonata, and whenever there was an gathering, he was allowed to play the piano to entertain the assembly.

Having played a couple of concerts at primary school and one at secondary, he then got interested in the drums at the age of 11 or 12. First assembling his own drums, he again hot his first real kit from his parents. He was however a very quiet drummer in those days, taping off the skins with cardboard in order to make less noise. As a pianist, he started making his own recordings as early as 1992 (aged 12 or 13) under the name of Dano (Oasis was followed in 1993 by Concertos and in 1994 by Free Wheel Dreams – his participation in the Movie Mogul Soundtrack Competition), and then started his first band Confusion with his brother Chris. The two jammed a lot at school, and wrote a lot of songs together. Being the first interested in Rock music, it was his brother whom instigated Dano into an interest for this music genre, and the next years would be centered around Confusion, who recorded a threesome of albums worth of material (1994's Rumplestiltskin, 1995's We Play God (on these first two Dano not only played the drums, but also sang, and co-wrote music), and 1996's Many Moons Ago (on which he merely played the drums)), before Dano got his first anxiety attack about his choice of music as a career, 6 months before he was to leave school in 1997. In fact, suffering a breakdown, Dano didn't even go to school during those 6 months, and he had to do his exams at home. Then, Dano's music teacher came to his house with a recorder, and recording Confusion's 4th demo Mother She Tried, Dano scored his best points ever, a B (which wasn't bad, seeing as he never learned to read notes anyway).

It took Dan a couple of years to return to a dregree of normalcy again, but at least he kept on writing and recording music [under his own name, Dano Wilson, he recorded two demos in 1998 (Divinity and The Loan), and that same year he also recorded a Confusion demo entitled It Actually Sounds Good (aka 'I Would Like To'). After that, work apparently concentrated on the band again, releasing The Five Questions Of Life (aka WWWWW) in 1999, The Driver Could Have Slowed Down (aka 'Diver') and We Are Doomed in 2000, and eventually The Very End Of You in 2001]. Then, the band also got to play the occasional gig, which brought a positive feeling, and as the band was doing more and more gigs, that positive feeling lingered. Well, at least in part, because Dano only contributed as drummer (and producer of the 2000 demos), and not in the writing process. In fact, I very much suspect that his own 1998 demos were actually written beforehand, and therefore merely recordings of already existing material. Anyway, everything was goin' better again, and in 2005 Dano finally released a new demo (the first one under the monicker of Chalcedony) entitled Imprompus Opus 7 (clearly relating to unfinished work). However, somewhere in 2006 Confusion ceased to exist, and shortly after the anxiety attacks returned. With friends having gone on their own path in life...some of them even moved away...the illness was this time a far more lonely affair. Sill, he had recently started work on a new album Chalcedony album entitled Chapter One and, struggling (he could hardly leave home because of his anxiety attacks), he finally got it finished in 2007 (filming a promotional video for the track “Ben And I” in his room by himself).

Recovery came much slower this time around, but eventually things evened out somewhat, and Chalcedony (which has not only become Dano's musical project but also became his alter ego) tried his hand at the business side of the music business, founding Rusalka Records (fittingly named after a ghost which cannot leave its dwelling, and Dano went further in the assimilation by frequently colouring his head hairs as green as the ghost's) as a means to promote his music.  It came along with the release of 2 albums (Butterflies and Elements) in 2010. Chapter II, it would seem, was already finished in 2011, but released only in 2012.

As Chalcedony states in the biography of his own website (www.), Chalcedony is a very personal musical project, in which the artist expresses his personal story, his hopes and anxieties...and that is something one certainly finds in the lyrical part of the music. Hence also, the darker, or Gothic feel in the music I mentioned earlier. Vocally, Chalcedony is rather soft-spoken, well, sings in a soft way...and he often backs himself up with a somewhat different voice (pitched a little higher, and frequently with a touch of a whale). The album is dedicated to Chris Wilson, which is not very surprising, because besides engineering the recordings, he also wrote and played the guitar parts (and I assure you the guitar parts on the album are quite delectable). All other instruments, including the drums, piano, keyboards, occasional flute and cello, were handled by Chalcedony. He also mixed, produced and mastered the recordings at the brother's own Wilson Bros Studios.

Now here's where I feel compelled to bring a very personal message to Chalcedony, aka Dan Wilson:

Dear friend,

(if I can be allowed to be that intimate)

please believe me when I tell you that you have nothing to be anxious about, as far as your music is concerned! Although often layered and at times complex, the overall feel of your music is very melodic indeed.

Personally, I lóve complex music, because it allows me to listen to the same album over and over again and follow different parts in it, and in the case of your has been a sheer pleasure for me to discover and revel in new details of the songs on the Chapter II album. If some music journalists or even individual put your music down, you gotta understand that basically, there's a lot of meanness in humanity. Some people will seek out reasons to put down others, just because they can, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it's because your music isn't really what they are into (at that moment), sometimes it's because of jealousy, because they themselves have never been able to play music, or lacked the concentration and dedication to become any good at it. And if indeed some of those people eventually got into music journalism, please understand that those negativists are a minority (occasionally putting things down merely because they are in a bad part of their relation ships, or simply because the day before they got a warning from the income revenue services to play their taxes), and most people into this side of the music “business” (hahhah...I've been at it for more than 25 years now, and most of it on a voluntary basis too) stepped into it because of their love for music!

It is clear, from every track on your most recent album (no matter whether it's that short instrumental “Pulse” or the album closing and 18 minute-long “Final Love”), that yours is a labour of love. It is so obviously a work done with attention for details and with a certain drive to fulfill your own complex feelings, that anyone with even an inkling of interest into Progressive Rock or Classical music is simply compelled to admit, that yours is a job really well done!

Rest assured, dear friend, that in me you have found a fan whom believes in your music. Although I've never suffered anxiety attacks to the point of being able to call it an illness, I feel for you with empathic strength. I am certain that your music is somewhat of a catharsis for you, as I am equally certain that music lovers who are in the same situation will be able to draw strength from the lyrical part of your music. Knowing that I am personally nót afflicted by that illness, gives me a certain happiness. A happiness which I would willingly share with you. It is therefore my sincere hope that, in my appreciation of your beautiful music, you will find sóme of the strength needed to continue your work in music for many years to come.

To Progressive Rock fans who are not afraid of a Classical or Gothic touch, check out some songs by Chalcedony at (www.) I'm sure you'll be touched by what's on offer! And, ah...get the album (just so you know you're gonna get your money's worth: with 10 tracks on the album, you get just over 78 minutes worth of delightful music!), and put it into your year-lists, like I've just done!