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Now then, here's something that's both familiar, yet fresh. Brazilian trio Daydream XI have forged retro and contemporary prog/rock/metal idioms into some rather exhilarating compositions that are theatrically grand in their constitution, in the sense of refined histrionics (there are no ostentatious theatrics to be heard here). With the band a new name to me when this arrived for review, I'm entirely unfamiliar with their debut work, 2014's 'The Grand Disguise', so their sophomore full-length offering, 'The Circus of the Tattered and Torn', is my first experience of Daydream XI, and it's an overwhelmingly positive one.

Throughout Daydream XI's emotionally varied music, as disparate passages of music seamlessly flow with a natural sonic fluency, are some serious grooves. It's what's lacking in a lot of the more sterile, stilted prog music out there but, it had to be said, this trio groove their arses off... even during the more rhythmically challenging passages of music where the musicianship ascends into virtuosic flair. It's partly what makes 'The Circus of the Tattered and Torn' such an infectious listen. Bring on the groove prog! And the grooves combined with the passion is a potent mixture, believe me. I found myself really "feeling" this album at every twist and turn.

Considering there are just a trio of musicians forming the core studio lineup of Daydream XI - guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/producer Tiago Masseti; guitarist Marcelo Pereira; drummer Bruno Giordano - they have quite a full sound. But, of course, there are a number of guest/session players who contribute bass (some pretty amazing bass, it must be said); keys/piano; and choirs. So, Daydream XI's instrumentations are fleshed out with some equally skilled musicians as the main trio themselves. And Masseti delivers some great vocals in each and every song... from the drama in his occasional spoken-word narration, to the suave melodrama and impassioned voice in his theatrical delivery, to the emotional depths in his more chilled singing.

Looking at the production credits, it's no surprise to see the ever ubiquitous Jens Bogren appear... twice, in fact! He was responsible for mastering and "mixing feedback" (hmmm... the latter's a new credit on me... not seen that one before). While the album generally lacks the finely honed aural finesse of an outright Bogren production, the overall sound is still very good. And a fine mixing job by Benhur Lima... all elements of the instrumentations and vocals sound nicely cohesive, and weighted just right (Bogren's imparted wisdom obviously helped).

Overall, 'The Circus of the Tattered and Torn' provides a refreshing listen that is a soulful, groovy, and passionate album across naturally flowing heavy/mellow contrasts. To be honest, I have heard better albums this year and, at around 71 minutes in length, it does feel a tad too long, so certain songs could've, perhaps, done with a little refining and trimming here and there, but I can still heartily recommend Daydream XI's second full-length work.
Review by Mark Holmes
22nd Sept 2017
1) Ticket 000011
2) Open the Curtains
3) Trust-forged Knife
4) Painted Smile
5) Windblown
6) A Cup of Agony
7) Overhauling Wounds
8) Collector of Souls
9) Forgettable
10) The Love That Never Was
11) The Circus of the Tattered and the Torn
"...this trio groove their arses off... even during the more rhythmically challenging passages of music where the musicianship ascends into virtuosic flair... Bring on the groove prog!"