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2006 : VOLUME 23

REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Karda Estra – The Age Of Science And Enlightenment
Karda Estra – The Age Of Science And Enlightenment
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:GFT - Cyclops
Catalogue #:CYCL 158
Year of Release:2006
Time:43:29
Info:Karda Estra
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Talos (4:25), Carmilla (4:30), Am I Dreaming You? Are You Dreaming Me? (6:01), The Age Of Science And Enlightenment (4:50), The Return Of John Deth: [i] The Red Room (5:39), [ii] Bones In The Moonlight (8:12), [iii] Nocturne Macabre (2:05), Second Star (7:25)

I first came across Karda Estra some three years ago on one of the excellent Cyclops sampler collections. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Flamborough Head, Manning and Mostly Autumn the bands music provided a soothing diversion to the more familiar prog tones of their label mates. I say band, when in fact Karda Estra is a pseudonym for multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer and designer Richard Wileman. It doesn’t say so on the credits but he probably made the tea as well! This is the tenth album in just eight years and shares with its predecessors a distinct pre-occupation with the macabre. The music is dark and brooding for the most part, with an ethereal quality conveyed by classical instrumentation and choral voices. Support comes in the form of an all female ensemble consisting of Ileesha Bailey, Helen Dearnley, Caron Hansford and Zoë Josey. Together they weave a hypnotic tapestry of sound around Wileman’s haunting guitar and keys.

To single individual tracks out for special mention is virtually impossible. Each blends seamlessly into the next, and unless you keep an eye on the track counter it goes from start to finish before you know it. Wisely, as with the other albums, it doesn’t stretch much beyond the 43-minute mark. No Flower Kings style excesses for Wileman! Each piece is seemingly based on a gothic story, and although I’m unfamiliar with each tale I would guess the music captures the atmosphere perfectly. In fact it would make the ideal soundtrack to a supernatural movie or TV special. I can picture the unsuspecting couple arriving at the haunted house for the first time, moving from room to room with this ghostly accompaniment. Ileesha Bailey’s wordless vocals are both eerie and beautiful at the same time. Helen Dearnley’s hypnotic violin combines with Wileman’s subdued symphonic keys to provide a modern classical sound. Caron Hansford’s impressive oboe and cor anglais playing really stands out for me. When those velvety tones came drifting out of the speakers I was transported back to the 70’s and Robin Miller’s work on King Crimson’s Lizard and Steve Hackett’s Voyage Of The Acolyte albums. Zoë Josey casts her own magic spell with flute and saxophones that can equally be compared with the work of Mel Collins amongst other.

Although Wileman is undoubtedly a gifted guitar player, he plays it low key for the most part resisting the temptation to cut loose. He adds occasional orchestral percussion to heighten the tension and provide dramatic effect. Unsurprisingly, he has also written the score for several feature films although you’re not likely to have come across any of them at the local multiplex. There aren’t many other artists working in the field of prog that I could compare him to. Robert John Godfrey, inspiration behind The Enid, possibly comes close. It is also difficult to pigeon hole his work with movie soundtrack composers, although Thomas Newman and Danny Elfman come to mind.

In spite of the music’s mostly sombre tone it always remains accessible. It does however demand more of the listener than most albums. To be fully appreciated it should be heard in seclusion allowing the listener to immerse themselves into the music with out distraction. As with all good music, it will take several hearings before succumbing to its intoxicating charms. For anyone that is familiar with the previous works they will not be disappointed with this release. If you are thinking of entering the world of Karda Estra for the first time then tread very carefully. You never know what’s waiting for you in the dark!

Conclusion: 7+ out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Chaos Code - Propaganda
Chaos Code - Propaganda
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:CC103
Year of Release:2005
Time:53:53
Info:Chaos Code
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: The Chameleon (6:36), Calling To Shadows (2:17), A New Domination (9:02), The Last Assignment (13:00), Failure System One: i) Revising History (4:11), ii) Saturated (5:01), iii) Bacon For Swine (1:31), iv) Fortune Cookie Leaflet (5:33), v) In The Revealing Light Of Betrayal (2:27), vi) Emergence (4:21)

Chaos Code were originally formed in 1997 in Baltimore USA, releasing their debut album, A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts, in 1999 followed by The Tragedy of Leaps and Bounds in 2002. Their latest release, Propaganda, comes after two and a half years of systematic and intense writing spurred on by the relative success of the second album. For Propaganda core members of the group, Cliff Phelps (guitars, synthesisers, flute and vocals), Patrick Gaffney (drums) and Gary Curtis (bass), are joined by Barry Caudill (saxophone), Jose Silva (harmony vocals and guitar) and Dave Makowiecki (trumpet).

The album is a concept piece about ants taking over the world, although the full scope of the concept is difficult to interpret due to a lack of lyrics. However the provocative photographs inside the CD booklet would seem to suggest that the insect revolution has come about following some global human conflict. Given the high percentage of instrumental music on the album the tale is somewhat secondary to the evaluation of the music which, on the whole, is thoughtful and interesting. Unlike a lot of progressive releases, Propaganda are primarily guitar-driven with keyboards generally used to add atmospherics. What differentiates Chaos Code from a general rock band is the structure of the music and interweaving saxophone that is present throughout the album. This is none better exemplified than on opening track The Chameleon with its changing time signatures, intertwined guitar and bass riffs and overdubbed guitar solos. In complete contrast, Calling To Shadows is a brief jazz-tinged number which nicely blends acoustic guitar, trumpet and flute with the addition of unobtrusive keyboards towards the end.

The two longest individual tracks follow. The nine-minute A New Domination is nicely structured veering from hard rock power chords mingled with saxophone, to gentler acoustic flute and guitar sections. The Last Assignment starts with an interesting drum pattern overlaid with Rhodes piano and develops into one of the most attention-grabbing pieces on the album. There is a definite Echolyn feel to this number, particularly in the vocal harmonies which are very strong. The harmonies are not restricted to the vocals as the extended instrumental section is replete with overlaid harmonic guitars and a nice blend of instrumentation to keep the listener satisfied throughout the thirteen minutes of the number.

The remainder of the album comprise the "suite" Failure System One, although in reality it is more a collection of six individual pieces rather than a true suite of music. First part, Revising History, is an instrumental number laying out some themes. Next up is the syncopated rock number Saturated, one of the highlights of the album. With the additional saxophone of Caudill and a nice guitar solo from Silva (whose playing style is easily distinguishable from that of Phelps) and a strong chorus the song gets into a solid groove and doesn't let go. Bacon For Swine, ostensibly a linking piece that helps further the story, is followed by Fortune Cookie Leaflet, a gentler number with saxophone once again prominent in this atmospheric instrumental which links seamlessly into In The Revealing Light Of Betrayal, a nice dual guitar piece. Final track Emergence reprises the style of opening track The Chameleon and once again features some strong vocal harmonies.

Overall Chaos Code have produced a strong album that should find appeal amongst a broad cross section of the progressive rock community. The Echolyn overtones and strong harmonic work are definite plus points in my book and make this an album that I will happily keep in my collection, even though I think the cover makes it look like a dodgy heavy metal album!

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Brighteye Brison - Stories
Brighteye Brison - Stories
Country of Origin:Sweden
Format:CD
Record Label:Progress Records
Catalogue #:PRCD019
Year of Release:2006
Time:52:05
Info:Brighteye Brison
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Stories (2:54), Patterns (8:37), Isolation (5:00), The Battle Of Brighteye Brison (6:57), Elenah (1:14), Late (5:22), Life Inside (5:31), All Love (9:02), We Wanna Return (5:33), Stories (reprise) (3.21)

Brighteye Brison are a Swedish quintet featuring brothers Linus and Daniel Kåse (keyboards/vocals/saxophone and drums/vocals/trumpet, respectively), Johan Öijen (guitar), Kristofer Eng (bass/theremin/flute/vocals) and Per Hallman (vocals). Formed in Stockholm some six years ago, the band released their eponymously titled debut album in 2003 on Rivel Records, although that album is currently out of print. Recently signed to Progress Records, Stories was finally released at the end of March this year.

Sweden seems to have been the creative mainspring of mainland European progressive rock in recent years and Brighteye Brison are hot contenders for the 'next big thing'. With musical influences extending back to the big boys of the 1970s, the group manage to successfully blend the past with the present, particularly in the big keyboard sounds, evident on songs like Patterns with its full blown Church organ. All Love is an interesting mixture of Gentle Giant (vibe solo), Supertramp (saxophone), a dixie band and classical grand piano.

When the group harmonise they are very effective, sounding glorious on We Wanna Return and Life Inside, although the solo sung pieces are not always as satisfying (such as on Stories and The Battle Of Brighteye Brison). Not that the individual vocalists are bad, just not as strong as when combined in unison (compare Stories with Stories (reprise) for example). And the musically interesting The Battle Of Brighteye Brison is completely ruined for me by the narrated section, something I can't stand! The keyboard playing of Linus Kåse is exemplary throughout (what else would one expect from a graduate of the Swedish Academy), none more so than on the brief piano solo Elenah which merges nicely into Late, with its strong instrumental section.

Overall, the second Brighteye Brison album is a good album that shows the potential of the band and will find favour with many prog fans. However, I don't think that Stories is a classic album but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Oresund Space Collective – Oresund Space Collective
Oresund Space Collective – Oresund Space Collective
Country of Origin:Sweden/Denmark/USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Record Heaven
Catalogue #:Trans017
Year of Release:2005
Time:69:44
Info:Oresund
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Faked It All The Way (6:21), Consumed By The Goblin (14:51), OSC Bolero (5:22), Falling Stardrops (15:46), Grab A Cab (7:15), Moonhead (2:29), Sundown (17:39)

This hand-Numbered Run of 500 copies is the debut CD of the Swedish, Danish and American Musicians who together form the Oresund Space Collective, a free-improvising Space Rock group. Most of the members are from the Danish bands Gas Giant & Mantric Muse, or Swedes Bland Bladen. Nope, I’ve not heard of any of these. OSC’s regular jam sessions (often including guest musicians, from Carpet Knights and others) have already yielded over 20 hours of spaced out jamming – all of which is available as free mp3’s at their web site – generous or what?

This year will also see the release of a series of Picks From Space, available as CDR’s (or FLAC Downloads) of some of the best of the jam sessions, with enhanced sound quality. This CD however, is a fully realised studio recording of their best material.

A track-by-track review would be somewhat redundant as, essentially, you’re going to go for this CD or not, depending on your feelings about space rock and instrumental jam sessions. Fans of bands like Quarkspace (their Spacefolds series is a very good indicator of the kind of stuff here), Djam Karet, Hawkwind (of course) Gong, and perhaps Ozric Tentacles (without so much ethnic or Reggae influences), should all find something to like here. Ideally suited for late night trip-outs, there are some seriously mind-expanding and cosmic Bliss-outs contained herein.

The emphasis is largely on ensemble playing, with smoothly evolving themes ebbing and flowing across the course of the tracks, but there is some nice soloing too, chiefly from guitar and synths.

For highlights, check out the pulsating Fake It All The Way with Floydian slide guitar embellishments, Consumed By The Goblin which even evokes The Doors, with its haunting electric piano, or Grab A Cab with its Ozric’s styled reggae lilt and electronic burbling.

Needless to say, this is not for those who like structured songs or vocals, and some may find its meandering style to be a little too laid back, but it pleasantly blends in subtle hints of jazz and funk for variety and, for the seasoned space-cadet, this should nicely fit the bill.

The rating is based on the likely appeal to a wider audience, and space rockers can safely add at least another point on.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

DAVE SISSONS



The Psychedelic Avengers -
And The Decterian Blood Empire
The Psychedelic Avengers - And The Decterian Blood Empire
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:FUNFUNDVIERZIG 155
Year of Release:2006
Time:157:07
Info:The Psychedelic
Avengers
Samples:Click here

Tracklist:

CD1: In Which The 2nd Intergalactic Fleet Of The Decterian Blood Empire Materializes On The Eastern Edge Of The Milky Way (2:05), As Darkness Spreads It's Evil Wings (3:26), Schiff Der Toten (3:22), The Call Of The Psychic Avenger (4:26), The Tears Of The Lyehsis (6:29), In which NAN-7 Sneaks Inside The Decterian Research Laboratories On Moon KU-03 (3:16), No Love - Anthrozis Su'ube's Lament (4:33), Mit Dem Polyphonen Herold Durch Den Chromatischen Dther (3:53), A Spy Named Vela Brown (5:54), The Guardian Angel (2:25), The Old Floyterian Mindexpander Is Still Working (2:22), Spacebabalooba - At The Psychedelic Avengers Academy (2:12), 1st Mission: Planet Mirgg (4:55), The Story Of Cr||b Pilot Hunter And Lt. Annifer Dubay (3:27), Hunter's Despair (1:49), In Which The Colony On Penubis 5 Is Being Completely Annihilated By Decterian Blood Demons (5:32), Live Broadcast From The Psychedelic Avengers Space Experience At The "Hallenden Hangars Von Hamamond" on Topkap-IX: Disco Darlings - Transport Problems In Hyperspace (2:08), Yru Bouernad From Planet Jannit - Speech (2:12), Xentru Quinturrs And His Wobbling Hulloo Buullus - For The Freedom Of Our Galaxy (3:58), The Blood Demons Attack On Camp Doguath And The Tragic Fate Of Pilot Jessica Choxcovij (6:45)

CD 2: A Little Gravitron Tells It's Tale (8:19), Inside The Ancient Techamid Of The Mutant Monks (7:21), Die Chrono-Spatiale R|ckkopplungsschleife Wird Entkoppelt (5:47), The Last Space Station (4:34), Manhunt Through Junxtion Central (2:20), Dr. Bregury Accidentally Slips, Cervil Voluntarily Trips, Franky Astonishingly Lits And The Memeron Finally Fits (4:41), The Flight Of The Silver Moon (3:36), A Secret Meeting At Harbiies On Bebulas 5 (3:45), From The Diary Of Jiun-Chaa: The Arc Of Light In The Eternal Dark Of Night, The Loneliness And The Flirrende Wei_e Sturm (5:40), Voices In The Dark, The Madness And The Death Of An Immortal Sungod (5:06), "Welcome" Said The Slubberian Slubber Gooze As It Smashed Mantilies Head To Pieces (2:53), They 4ve Broken Through On The 20th Moon Of The Kaobigoo Or As Captain Herb P. Croudak Lost His Mind (2:47), The Rage Of The Regris (4:28), Big Whale's Burger (2:49), The Gathering (1:04), The Psychedelic Avengers Theme (1:18), The Flirrende Weisse Sturm Is Being Unleashed (2:00), Counterattack: Decterian Blood (3:56), Mit Dem Polyphonen Herold Durch Den Chromatischen Dther - Reprise (2:57), Knarf Rellvm Trifft Den Polyphonen Herold (4:30)

The Psychedelic Avengers is not exactly what we would call a band. It is rather a consortium of musicians put together in order to bring to life the soundtrack of an imaginary journey through the galaxy. It actually consists of 43 artists from countries all over the world, whose music ranges from psychedelia to electronic, from ambient minimalist electronica to space-rock. This might sound to you as a collection, but as the band explicitly says, the album is NOT a compilation, but rather a joint effort by a big variety of musicians, who are forced to work together even with people not sharing the same musical taste in order to produce a coherent piece of music based on a space-trip story written by Leo Lukas. I must confess I did not know any of the musicians involved, however some of them seem to be pretty famous in their small communities.

The music could actually take the label space rock, which is a very tolerant and wide label. One can find pointers to Ozric Tentacles, Hawkwind, early Porcupine Tree, but also a lot of electronica elements, even drum n' base, ambient, trip-hop or electro-industrial. Actually, I would go as far as saying that the base of the album is not space-rock after all, but a looney version of electronica, mixed with some rock. Loops, digital sound effects are present all over the album and actually set the grounds for the overall feeling. The start of the two cd's is rather misleading, since Ozric and Hawkwind come to mind. Personally I took this as a positive reinforcement to go on, but soon my expectations were let down. These influences are visible in some other parts of the album too, sometimes turning into something boring and pushed too far, some times inspired and clever. There are lots of tracks inspired by Massive Attack, but I must say without ever reaching their quality, inspiration and soul, and inspiration comes even from The Prodigy (I hope everybody remembers this very difficult to describe band!). Prog influences are very scarce and could be summed up to two improvisations on the beginning of Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Don't get me wrong, there are quite some beautiful moments in this album. Most of the times the tracks with "normal" vocals are good, there is here and there some avant-garde feeling brought forth by the use of clarinet or sax, some electric violin which gives a true 70's psychedelia feeling, and also to get on the real core of the album, some tracks where electro loops are very well blended with guitar loops. A necessary pop feeling relaxes the atmosphere at some points and accounts for the positive elements of the album. Moreover, there are some pure electro-industrial moments that just sound good and stand out from the rest.

There are 41 songs in this album, mounting to 157 minutes of playing time. Now, the question is, is it all worth listening? Well, for me, not really. At least half of the album is tiring noisy meaningless tunes with cumbersome narratives about some space war, and what you want to do is simply skip and go to the next track. I love going for psychedelic ethnic rides with the music of Ozric Tentacles, I enjoy early PT material, and I am a huge fan of Massive Attack. This album is inspired by all these artists, but simply does not reach any of their standards. As for progressive elements I am sure the fingers of one hand are enough to count them, but that is not the reason why I did not enjoy the album much. They really offer a lot of samples from the CD's for a potential buyer to get an initial hint of what this all is about, so I would recommend to those interested to visit their website. There, non German speaking people can acquire a version of the story which is the backbone of the music, translated in English (in the booklet it is only in German). Personally I did not sacrifice my time to do so. Maybe their effort would have been much more appealing if it was cut down to 60 minutes of good meaningful selected music. And sorry, I do not buy the argument that "this is psychedelia". Might be a choice for fanatics of the genre of psychedelic electronica-based space-rock. For the rest, it requires a very broad taste but mainly patience to arrive to a good track.

Conclusion: 5.5 out of 10

CHRISTOS AMPATZIS



Marco Galletti - La Luce Che Illumnia I Sogni
Marco Galletti - La Luce Che Illumnia I Sogni
Country of Origin:Italy
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:MG-200501
Year of Release:2005
Time:48:56
Info:Marco Galletti
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: E Vorrei... [And I Wish] (9:18), La Luce Che Illumina i Sogni [Light Enlightening Dreams] (7:17), Punti Indefiniti [Undefined Points] (4:41), L’Aria Che Respiri [The Air You Breathe] (5:24), Abbracciandoti [Embracing You] (4:55), Questa Luna [This Moon] (5:22), Nell’infinito Cielo [In The Infinite Sky] (6:15), Ritorna Il Sole [The Sun Is Back] (5:25)

Marco Galletti is an Italian born musician and principally a keyboard player who has embraced technology allowing him to write, perform and produce his own music. He has taken on this project with this purpose in mind and therefore what we hear on La Luce Che Illumnia I Sogni is exactly that, the creative product of the man.

The name Marco Galletti maybe familiar to some as the founder member of Arcensiel back in the mid 80s. Reading through the literature that accompanied the CD I gather that some frustrations existed and Marco subsequently left the band in 1991. From there he decided to go it alone producing his first solo work in 1994, although again some dissatisfaction with the end result left the music somewhat archived. Fast forward a decade and the advent of the PC, affordable software and the desire to create still burning has resulted in La Luce Che Illumnia I Sogni. As to be expected the album is a product of technology and therefore has a sequenced nature to it. Now for some this works, and on the whole I believe that it has for Marco, as stylistically he has produced a sound that embodies technology and hasn't attempted to make it sound like a band.

La Luce Che Illumnia I Sogni starts with the gently undulating E Vorrei... and we might look to Jean Michel Jarre as an early pointer - certainly for the pulse of this opener. Pushed along by the underpinning bass, bass drum and moving motif, Marco adds his themes, deft little synth runs and infectious melodies. Vocals are present, softly sung, and although not earth shattering are used sparingly and are relatively unobtrusive. In contrast the title track opens with a strong symphonic feel, gently subsiding into a piano driven ballad. The softly sung, almost spoken, Italian lyrics sit well in-between the stronger more classical instrumental sections. Galletti adds some lead guitar giving the track greater variation.

The gentle nature of the album continues through Punti Indefiniti, however the drums start to get busier and more obtrusive, with the end result being less effective. The same can also be levelled at L’Aria Che Respiri, where a band approach is adopted and with the vocals pushed more to the front - doesn't quite work for me. Contrasting is Abbracciandoti with its Doors-ish mood, certainly in the Hammondy organ opening. Galletti rather appropriately describes Questa Luna as a nocturne - a gentle piece that gradually grew on me (despite the rather insipid vocals) - the middle section certainly has a haunting Morricone-like theme, which is repeated before the tasteful echoey guitar solo. Nell’infinito Cielo seems a little at odds with the rest of the album, with its suspended piano chord drive (think Cold As Ice) - pleasant enough and I thought the accordion sound for solo passages worked well. The best however is saved till the very end with excellent Ritorna Il Sole - shades of early Genesis can be detected fleetingly. A lovely piano motif, Galletti's best vocal performance, a great little choral sound, another Morricone-like theme, nice strings...

Musically La Luce Che Illumnia I Sogni is a varied offering, drawing from Marco's prog past, but also incorporating strong elements of electronica and a gathering of classical concepts and influences. So over the 48 minutes of the album he covers a varied musical palette. Along with the pointers already offered Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield cropped up in my notes as possible influences. Fair to say that this isn't my usual digest, however I found the music of La Luce Che Illumnia I Sogni to be a pleasant and enjoyable experience. I will certainly return to this album from time to time and I look forward to the next release.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

BOB MULVEY



Hÿdra – The Famous Unknown
Hÿdra – The Famous Unknown
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Catalogue #:MP 3048.AR
Year of Release:2006
Time:58:54
Info:N/A
Samples:N/A

Tracklist: Overture (0:59), Morning [I. Part One] (4:21), Morning [II. Part Two] (5:51), Am I Still Alive? (5:12), This White Coat [I. Part One] (2:21), 1914 [7:42], Mary (6:00), Giggles And Tears (4:14), Dear Mum And Dad (10:11), This White Coat [II. Part Two] (4:37), The Unknown Soldier (7:26)

Hailing from the slightly unusual musical location of the French Alps, some of you may remember Hÿdra for releasing an album called Rock Experience in 1996. Apparently back then the band peddled music in a very nineties-like ProgMetal style. One that brought comparisons to the likes of Dream Theater and Magellan. Now move forward eight years and a lot has changed in the Hydra waters. Picked up by the Musea label, their second album is about as far removed from progressive metal as you can go, while still keeping a small element of rock to your sound. The Famous Unknown sees the band waving goodbye to Dream Theater, Magellan et al, with 11 tracks featuring an acoustic duet between vocalist Sébastien Dénarié and guitarist Pascal Lemoine.

A bold concept album, it takes the Remembrance theme through the story of an unknown soldier from World War One - an unknown conscript, of unknown nationality; his joys, his hopes and his fears. And for the most part, this is an album that sticks to a pretty basic, singer-songwriter, acoustic formula. The voice and guitars are joined occasionally by keys, accordion and once by an electric guitar. There's not a lot in the way of progressive elements but I did find it an enjoyable, if not compelling, listen.

Dénarié's vocals spend the majority of the time in a lower range, where a certain richness to his voice shines through. However the presence of a pretty strong accent does make it rather hard to make out the words - which rather spoils the effect of a story-based acoustic album. The lyrics too at times can be rather clumsy. The band states that the universal message of the story led them to choose English. I can't help but think, that maybe the use of the native tongue, would have been more effective musically. On a few occasions, the harmonies and his attempt to hit certain styles and notes, are pretty off-putting. The spoken intro and the opening to Giggles and Tears is horrible. A real shame, as after the bad start, it turns into one of the album's best songs thanks to a beltingly catchy chorus. Similarly the spoken vocal style on Am I Still Alive is poor, as are the messy harmonies and counter play that follows later.

The more memorable moments come with the downbeat tone of Morning Part2, and the strong chorus and interesting rhythms of 1914. The Unknown Soldier which closes the album, stands up well to the acoustic songs written by the likes of The Levellers.

I find the guitar work of Lemoine to be very enjoyable, with a lovely warm tone to what he does. It's just a bit samey after a while. A greater sense of adventure could have meant a heavier use of layered and interchangeable guitar work, with a variety of styles and dynamics - something that is only, really utilised on the instrumental Mary.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

ANDY READ



Knitting By Twilight - Someone To Break The Silence
Knitting By Twilight - Someone To Break The Silence
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Overflower
Catalogue #:STEP-4
Year of Release:2005
Time:19:32
Info:Knitting By Twilight
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Sigh (3:45), Holiday To Holiday (3:53), She's Not Here, She's Far Ahead (2:49), Mr. Santini (4:15), Audrey (4:48)

Knitting By Twilight is not so much a band as a revolving cast of characters based around drummer and percussionist John Orsi. Following an eponymously titled EP released in 1995 and a second EP "Heavy Hearts and Safety Nets" in 1997 the group have released a third EP, "Someone To Break The Silence" containing selections from the forthcoming album "An Evening Out Of Town" as well as exclusive tracks. However, no indication is given on the EP as to which tracks are from the album and which are exclusive!

Not that it matter much as the music on the EP is much of a muchness. To be generous one could state that there are elements of the more improvisational side of King Crimson as well as some of the more esoteric noodlings of Fripp & Sylvian or perhaps more appropriately the ambient collaborations of Sylvian and Czuky.

Things start off okay on Sigh with an interesting guitar and percussion workout which is followed up by an almost tribal rhythm introduction to Holiday To Holiday. Obviously rhythm is the main raison d'être for Knitting By Twilight although this track does have a slight melody line, with male and female voices layered over each other. However, goodness knows what the male voice intoning "It's Good To See You" is all about.

She's Not Here She's Far Ahead has a rather grungy guitar sound but once again it is the various percussion effects that tend to dominate. The vocal line once again contains the minimum of melody, it seems that the group are aiming to make an overall sonic impression rather than develop their compositions into actual songs. Mr. Santini carries on in a similar vein although this time an admittedly interesting guitar solo is layered profusely across the drum pattern. Again, spurious insertions of a male voice this time stating the song title are spread throughout the track which is fairly annoying to say the least. Final track Audrey is very ambient and, to me at least, rather pointless.

Rather a challenging release, may appeal to people who have an interest in the more avant garde and to whom rhythm is more of a turn on than melody. However, 20 minutes of this was just about as much as I could stomach.

Conclusion: 4 out of 10

MARK HUGHES




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