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Max Enix is a singer-songwriter, composer, and producer from Strasbourg, France. Last month, Enix released Far From Home, an ambitious double album complemented by a host of special guests. The album similarly encompasses a wide range of influences, from the more pronounced progressive metal and alternative rock to subtler leanings of new age, jazz, and even hip hop. Recently, he and his band were selected to join the European festival circuit in 2024, giving them further opportunity to showcase the album to a wider audience, and rightfully so. Both discs of Far From Home have a combined runtime of over two and a half hours, and I thought it necessary to discuss tracks that stand out the most to me.
Disc 1 of the album begins with “The End Of An Era”, the key of which is established through a warm, focused monk chant by Laurent Lunoir. I appreciate how the subsequent accompaniment of a piano and additional string arrangement gradually find their way in the mix, helping further expand the involvement of the song. Before long, its framework is effective. Everything from its complex but digestible rhythm sections, and careful interplay between the guitar, string and percussive arrangements works well as the song progresses. Despite its rather defeatist sounding title, both Enix and guest vocalist Elise Wachbar bolster a surprisingly hopeful precedential tone, alluding to the natural phasing out of chaos and subsequent creation of new life and potential. The second track, “Tears of Earth” expands on the involvement, with its string arrangement serving as fine base-level accompaniment throughout. Once the song intensifies in its heaviness, that’s when the outright sonic elements and subtler percussive elements work together cohesively. I especially enjoyed Michael Onetwenty’s presence on this song, as he exhibits a unique pacing when he sings versus when he raps. On the third track, “City of Mortals,” there’s this nuance in the way the piano conveys its mood – cool and swift, yet at the same time, almost melancholic. Elise Wachbar takes the lead on this track, singing of longing for a return to unity at a time and place where disarray runs rampant. Throughout the experience of understanding this plight, sparse lead guitar melodies give her sentiments additional weight. While further parts of this song feature more guitar and seem almost like a tangent, the piece returns to its original pace and is impressively well-rounded. Within the progression of the instrumentation, the thematic direction of the album becomes increasingly clear. Of the longer pieces on this side, “In This Forgotten Paradise” is functions as an extension, centering on reminiscing of nature in fine form prior to its destruction by oblivious, man-made cruelty. The similarly lush piano accompaniment provides a seamless transition between the verses and chorus, as well as the interplay between vocalists. The last phase of the song is crafted especially well, as it emphasizes the notion that while grief is inevitable, love from others, even while they’ve passed away, is also ongoing in an eternal sense. Later on side one, the thematic transition between “An Illusional Kiss” and “The Dark And Bright Tunnel” is beautifully done. Each vocalist has solid call-and-response interplay with one another, as they detail the motions of becoming addicted to a false sense of security. With this comes the realization that what exists beyond the façade is not only hellish, but a bleak dead end. Yet, in recognizing one’s receptiveness to similar addictions of the past, newfound agency is gained.
On the second disc, “Childhood Emotions,” works with a similarly emotionally validating thematic angle. Even while one’s inner child might become wounded one way or another, it is up to the person to decide how to deal with the circumstances they are given, and Max and company do a stellar job at conveying the nuance of such a predicament. I like how the solo by Xavier Bosher initially blends into the rhythm section and becomes more present gradually, almost like a dolphin leaping out of water for a fresh breath of life. Ultimately, the song serves its purpose in its conciseness. The longer piece that follows, “The Broken Face,” deals with a similar angle, except from the context of adulthood, wherein it is emphasized that despite ongoing turmoil, one must take accountability for their actions and not turn into the very force they’re fighting. Interestingly, even as longer pieces persist for the remainder of the album, “Beyond My Blood” is especially direct. Its thematic angle is relatable, as it centers on how considerable stress stunts the natural grace of our lives as we age. Guest vocalist Mahdi Khemakhem joins in for further lyrical perspective, talking about the pressures of smiling in the face of society while privately navigating through internal disarray. “Angels of the Apocalyptic Storm,” the penultimate track of the album, echoes similar sentiments but in a different context, about how world progress is stunted by the actions of corrupt authority. However, as the titular epic closer mentions, even amidst the inevitability of death, new life begins.
Overall, Far From Home succeeds in creating a profound, pertinent, and immersive experience. The album’s sound is balanced and clear, making each vignette to the concept – through all its demonstrable complexities – easy to follow along with. By way of its numerous and distinctive vocals and instrumentation, the album comes across as a bunch of friends supporting one another through a multilayered journey, and doesn’t cop out by choosing to pander through sheer virtuosity alone; it is truly a work of art.
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