Code 18 were formed as long ago as 2008 by Huis keyboard player Johnny Maz, and this their debut album has been some ten long years in the making due to other projects. The other members of the band are JF Rémillard (guitars) and Bönz (bass, vocals), along with various guest musicians including notably Johnny’s Huis bandmate, Mysteron Michel St-Père. As one would expect from something coming from the Unicorn stable, this is an incredibly polished release with great production, containing arrangements which are aimed at promoting the voice and keyboards. There are various synth-driven small “Underludes” through the album, which work as a palette cleanser for the main courses, and these work really well in that respect as well as showing the sort of material Johnny may have released if left solely to his own devices, which is far more Tangerine Dream and krautrock in style than the rest of the album.
There are some lengthy numbers on the album, and this is where the band really shines, such as on “Waste” which is over fourteen minutes in length. Here we still have the vocals right to the fore, as they take Floydian influences, and throw them straight into neo-prog so one can hear influences of modern Marillion as well as IQ. One must make special mention of drummer Dan Lacasse regarding thing song. He is one of two drummers on the album but his work on this one is incredibly effective, providing a moving base for the guys to provide some solid riffs as they move through the sections. There is a lot of space within the album, which is good to hear, with strong clarity. It is an album that bears repeated playing, and proper listening, as the first few times I played this I was not giving it the proper attention and I let it all wash over me and I certainly did not get the full benefit. The more I really listened, the more I enjoyed it. Apparently, this has been released as a digipak with as 12-page booklet, but even without that, this is a very strong album which can easily be enjoyed. Let us just hope we do not have to wait so long for the next one as this is very enjoyable neo-prog indeed.