Optic Nerve Album Cover by Dario and the Clear

Dario and the Clear: Optic Nerve Album Review

Dario and the Clear, Optic Nerve, Selective Memory, Album Review

Dario and the Clear
Optic Nerve

Links: Bandcamp | Facebook

There are certain aspects to music emotion that drive a specific reaction. If there is a musical build up, you expect a crushing climactic apex to happen at the end of the build up. We want justification for the journey. But for Dario and the Clear, they throw a wrench in the natural order of musical hierarchy. “Dieties in Splendor” opens Optic Nerve with a build up only to fall into an exploration of meandering jazz-like components. It may not be the rush we are looking for, but coming from this esteemed prog ensemble it makes sense. What you should always remember with Dario Saraceno is to expect the unexpected. You learn that very quickly on Optic Nerve.

“The message is to find yourself not just as an artist but as a human being,” Saraceno describes the new release.

This could not be more relevant than on “This Moment,” a synchronistic hybrid of man and machine through self-identity. “Choose to remember / I remember,” sings Saraceno. It’s an amazing progressive rock number in abbreviated time. One thing that Dario and the Clear strive for is that they waste no time with contemplation. Every note serves a purpose.

The skill level of musicians who collaborate on this album is staggering: keyboardists, Jamie Peck and Natt Kerr, as well as his Woodstock friends, Tony Levin (King Crimson and Peter Gabriel) and Jerry Marotta (Orleans, Peter Gabriel and Paul McCartney). Trey Gunn (King Crimson) is on Warr guitar. Music engineer, Eric Dalton, joins Dario for the first time on bass and backing vocals and Robert Kopec plays upright and electric bass. Add in Adam Siegel on alto sax.

A look into the song “Saint Street,” the band blends ambient structure with organic rhythms and the Berklee alumni’s metaphysical guitar work. Saraceno builds an arrangement that is completely self-absorbed and worth the listener’s attention. Notes float in suspended animation as Dario concentrates on the heavens for guidance.

After his Decoy project and five albums under Dario and the Clear, Saraceno has become a master of balling up a flowing passion of musical motive, like a wizard moving around emotion. You want to grab onto it, if only music was a tangible reality. For Saraceno, the good thing is that it lies amongst the landscape as a fluid derivative. Optic Nerve is a succinct yet grandiose achievement.

Dario and the Clear—This Moment (Official Video)


1. Deities and Splendor
3. Sustained and Distorted
4. Saint Street
5. This Moment
6. Designated Skin
7. Tattooed Prophet

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