Since releasing their self titled debut back in 2008, relative unknown prog band Diagonal have undergone a significant change. In the four years leading to their second release “The Second Mechanism”, Diagonal saw bassist Daniel Pomlett and keyboard and vocalist Alex Crispin leave the ranks, and the band continue on as a more conservative five piece. With this change, the band have also diverted to a somewhat more focused musical formula, albeit with still a rather eclectic sound.
Mostly an instrumental piece (vocals only really prominent on the lengthier track ‘Hulks’), “The Second Mechanism” shows a range which draws from Psychedelia, jazz and early prog rock bands; all sides of which are done with real proficiency and clarity. On a technical level this is very well done, with an abundance of textures and multi layered passages which show off all sides quite effectively. The mood of songs changes quite frequently as well, moving (as just one example between joyous sax laden parts through to a darker, synth heavy passage.
On this technical level “The Second Mechanism” is quite impressive, but the problem is that it pretty much just feels like a technical exercise. It just doesn’t feel like it is trying to draw you in on any emotional level; rather it merely feels like they are showing off in a sense.
With an unquestionably strong sense of musicianship on display, “The Second Mechanism” is a very good example of showing the tight and varied, even near eccentric musicianship that such bands can create. Sadly, Diagonal fail to portray the real emotional side and a real connection to them. Instead “The Second Mechanism” feels more like just a musical exhibition.