Scanning through the list of artists, albums and tracks earmarked for further investigation, I noticed that one band appeared twice. Diagonal‘s latest two albums, Arc (2019) and 4 (2021), each had an entry. With nothing else begging to be heard, it was time to follow this oblique reference and acquaint myself with the band.
Information about Diagonal is hard to come by. They don’t seem to have a website and their Facebook page just directs you to their record company’s page on Bandcamp. Spotify’s About box simply says, “English Progressive Rock/Psych band – originally from Brighton”. Google hits are all about the line joining the opposite corners of a rectangle or the “diagonal band of Broca”, which Wikipedia says is “one of the basal forebrain structures that are derived from the ventral telencephalon during development”. Not very helpful.
Discogs does a little better with:
Progressive rock band formed in Brighton, UK in early 2006. Initially comprising 7 members. Lead vocalist and keyboardist Alex Crispin and bassist Daniel Pomlett departed the group in 2010. The band carried on as a 5 piece and released their second album aptly titled The Second Mechanism towards the end of 2012. After an extended hiatus the band returned in 2019 with their third album, Arc.Discogs
Even here, there is no mention of the outfit’s fourth studio album, which includes credits for both Alex Crispin and Daniel Pomlett alongside David Wileman (guitar), Ross Hossack (synthesiser, vocals), Luke Foster (drums) and Nicholas Whittaker (saxophones, vocals).
So, after settling down with a coffee pot and headphones, the investigation progressed to the listening phase.
Initial impressions of their latest release were so-so. The soft wash of synthesiser sounds was pleasant enough but, in stark contradiction of their name, the music didn’t seem to be going in any particular direction. Perhaps their style has changed in the 15 years since they were formed, I thought, and cued up the Diagonal debut. This one pleased me a little more. It has strong echoes of the Canterbury scene, but with nuggets of woodwind that give it a distinctive flavour. Dreamy, rather than aimlessly ambient.
Moving on to 2012’s The Second Mechanism, we find a more robust sound – something that justifies the label ‘prog rock’, but still fairly gentle, at the opposite corner to ‘progressive metal’. This band has promise. And so, to complete the picture, the Arc album gets a spin. This, for me, is the best of the bunch. Picking out a couple of tracks, there’s a hint of Gentle Giant in Stars Below and a suggestion of The Moody Blues in Citadel.
Poking around in cyberspace for information about the Diagonal group threw up one more interesting factoid. Apparently, if you live on the other side of the pond, you may be familiar with the term “catty corner” or “kitty corner”, which means “diagonally opposite”. Well, I never knew that.