01. Alea lacta est (6:13)
02. Annika (3:47)
03. The utopian suntan (5:51)
04. The Venetian bargain (7:49)
05. Follies: (22:03)
c) At the gate of Entrudivore
d) I'm Entrudivorian
e) You are?
f) You are.....
- Per Andersson / drums, percussion, chorus
- Robert Holmin / lead vocals, saxes, chorus
- Leif Larsson / keyboards, Mellotron, chorus
- Örjan Strandberg / guitars, chorus
- Fredrik Vildö / bass, chorus
Other than being a wonderful set of music, it is the "unfinished" quality of Dice's first that makes it so good and so unlike much of the over-groomed product that was coming from the Scandinavian prog scene. In fact it reminds me more of the raw excitement in the tiny but edgy U.S. scene around the same time; think Yezda Urfa, Cartoon, et al. Sure Robert Holmin's vocals are subpar and they're playing with the urgency of a band on a very tight studio schedule and small budget, but that doesn't mean this ain't prog rock of the utmost ambition and sincerity. The compositions are developed beyond the call of duty, the group dynamics are solid, and the fun but serious attitude is just right. For a debut, the quintet did a marvelous job.
A roll of the bones crackles open 'Alea lacta Est' crammed full of sudden but perfect changes as the band keeps us guessing, finally settling on a narrative about war, peace and politics. But the music, not the message, is the centerpiece, sloppy mistakes and all. Bass player Fredrik Vildo is extraordinary and Leif Larsson's keys provide gorgeous layers of texture and emotion as on 'Annika', with Orjan Strandberg's muti-tracked guitars filling in space with volume swells and chiming harmonies, even funny 'The Utopian Suntan' has room for great elaboration. And I suspect 'The Venetian Bargain', though resembling Yes, in turn had an impact on the very band it was emulating. Listen to this cut with Yes' Drama in mind ~ an album that came out two years later ~ and you'll hear what I mean. It is a beautiful track and the disc finishes with twenty-two minute operetta 'Follies', a baroque-rock epic lush with synths and the inspiration of a great, great musical unit.
If you ever see this one at a good price, nab it. Someday you'll be glad you did. At least I hope so.