“Secret Youth” is Callisto‘s latest delve into the progressive rock soundscape. It is another addition to their already intricate and exploring repertoire. Whilst being called ‘post-rock’ it does feature more prominent vocals than other band within that genre, adding another quirk to the layers and whilst the balance may sometimes be slightly off the vocalist’s calmer Serj Tankian-esque voice yields a degree of interesting dynamic to the orchestration and, though strange, is somewhat soothing.
It’s intelligent but not overly self-indulgent. With music such as this there is going to be an element of self-admiration among the musicians but whilst it’s intelligent it isn’t overly self-indulgent, and with the band members’ capabilities and restraint that’s to be respected. The first half of the album is great but in the second half the imagination is really captured. ‘Breasts of Mothers’ is one of the most impressive songs, as it builds up throughout it’s length and smashes into a manic and somewhat slow crescendo. Perhaps underwhelming but the change from an explosive finale and instead adopting something else, which in turn flows better, is a testament to the clever craftsmanship that flows throughout this body of work. ‘Ghostwritten’, however, opts for a more familiar, yet by no means less brilliant, big-bang final few moments.
Whilst they have a grand and intellectual ambition, the self-indulgent tenancies of prog and post-rock take a backseat here, instead favouring expansive soundscapes coupled with affluent melodies. It’s well thought out and constructed and the kind of music the universe would have been created to.