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2006 : VOLUME 28

REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Marillion - Unzipped ~
The Making of Anoraknophobia
Marillion - Unzipped ~ The Making of Anoraknophobia
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Racket Records
Catalogue #:Racket 27
Year of Release:2006
Time:64:13 & 59:57
Info:Marillion
Samples:-

Tracklist Disc 1 (Album Demos): Between You And Me (5:44), Quartz (8:52), Map Of The World (5:05), When I Meet God (10:13), The Fruit Of The Wild Rose (6:22), Separated Out (7:24), This Is The 21st Century (10:49), If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill (9:39)

Tracklist Disc 2 (Writing Sessions): Music In The Sky (1:07), Who Can Say What It Means (0:56), What Goes On In Between (0:55), I Sang That Pretty Tune (3:47), Blow A Fuse Day (1:49), Fix It In The Usual Way (0:45), You're Just Gonna Stop (0:46), Trying To Have Fun (4:17), It's So Hard (1:43), Lights Of The City (0:22), Watching The People (2:02), Pinned Up On The Wall (0:38), Gonna See it All (1:01), Sit Back And Watch (1:41), Feels So Warm (2:10), Don't Do That (2:05), No Solution (1:43), Perfect Mirror (0:44), Such Waves (1:27), I'm So Alone (0:47), Voluptuous Crimson (0:27), They Come To Play (1:35), In Your Mind (1:01), We Wouldn't Lie To You Folks! (1:30), Straight In The Machine (1:07), Come To Bed (1:24), Flash To Crash And Burn (2:14), I Heard Everything You Said (2:31), Rest Your Heavy Head (1:13), They're Not At All The Same (1:07), Running Scared (1:23), We Can See Sense (1:14), Ankle Deep In Glue (0:38), Can You Play Me A Song (1:14), Don't You Ever Wonder (2:42), Number Two (7:36)

Unzipped is Marillion's latest release in their series of Making Of albums. As with the previous albums in this series, The Making Of Brave, Refracted, Another DAT At The Office, Fall Out and Caught In The Net this two CD set focuses on one of their albums (in this case Anoraknophobia) and presents demos and 'work in progress' outtakes of the sessions for the album.

A big difference between the demos on this album and those on some of the previous Making Of albums lies in the fact that - as the liner notes explain - these are actually 'rough mixes' instead of demos. These are semi-finished versions with the actual drum parts of the album already present and some of the other instruments also laid down in their definite parts. Producer Dave Meegan would eventually use some of these tracks combined with later recordings or tracks from different takes to compile the final versions that appear on Anoraknophobia. As such the versions on the demo disc don't differ all that much from the end result. Rather, they just feel like unpolished 'live in the studio' versions, with the occasional missing lyric or different line here and there.

Still, there's a couple of interesting differences with the final album. For instance, Between You And Me is a version that still misses the characteristic effects and sequencers. It's slightly less 'dancey' and more rocking with a more prominent role for the pumping bass line. Map Of The World does not have any lyrics yet and therefore has Steve Hogarth la-di-da and do-be-doing his way through the track. The melody of the chorus is different as well. Fruit Of The Wild Rose ends rather abruptly after a wild jam. Separated Out doesn't have the movie samples yet but starts with a quiet synth intro instead. It also features a much longer end jam extending the song for about an extra minute. The vocals in the song are not only partially missing, but also much less aggressive than in the final version. One could almost say 'uninspired'. Indeed, at times some of the music is pretty dreadful, like the quite horrible version of the climatic guitar solo of When I Meet God or Hogarth's squeals in If My Heart Were A Ball.

Some of the more interesting outtakes on the Making Of series appear on the CDs of the writing session for Radiation and Marillion.com. As I mentioned in earlier reviews of these CDs they feature completely different takes with very different approaches to some of the songs. For this album the band got Dave Meegan, who also produced Brave and Afraid Of Sunlight back into the studio. Meegan also stimulated the band to jam in order to compose new material but would detect interesting bits much sooner during the process, or would piece together ideas from different jams. He would than ask the band to work on these. As a result of this structured way of writing there was much less 'musical wandering' and rough ideas came together much quicker. Unfortunately this also makes the Making Of CD less interesting since lots of outtakes resemble the end result quite closely.

The most interesting bits of the writing sessions disc are the early jams, but these are often just very short bits and pieces. Worth mentioning are I Sang That Pretty Tune (a 4 minute early slow jam version of Between You And Me), Blow A Fuse Day (a piano bit that would become the middle part of Between You And Me), Trying To Have Fun (the origin of the Quartz bass line in a jam), the three snippets of a very long jam from which When I Meet God developed (Don't Do That, No Solution, Perfect Mirror), Straight In The Machine (lyrics for Separated Out combined with a whole different musical idea) and Flash To Crash And Burn (lyrics for Fruit Of The Wild Rose with the melody of 21st Century).

The combination of the end section of When I Meet God with the lyrics of Separated Out in Such Waves clearly proves that the spark wasn't always present in the studio. The same goes for the outtakes of If My Heart Were A Ball. Then again, considering the rather dreadful outcome of that song, inspiring snippets from the writing sessions were not to be expected.

An interesting aspect of the writing session disk is the presence of Number One, a song that didn't make it to the final CD and is not present as a demo on the other disc either. There's a three minute struggle in which Hogarth tries to fit the lyrics with the chords that arose in an earlier full band jam (Can You Play Me A Song and Don't You Ever Wonder).

For those who make it all the way to the end of the CD: after 7 minutes of silence there's also a hidden track of the band going into a cover version of that old prog classic Loving You (is easy because you're beautiful) by Minnie Riperton (I had to look that one up - honest).

Some of the songs that ended up on Anoraknophobia appear here only in two or three short snippets and considering the length of 52 minutes it's a bit of a shame they didn't come up with some more interesting stuff from the sessions. The full When I Meet God jam might have been interesting ...

The artwork of the album shows what probably are turned down proposals for the cover of Anoraknophobia before the Barry concept was introduced. And we're quite fortunate that these were turned down because some of the takes of the interpretation of the anorak Marillion fan border on the offensive.

This new Making Of CD is not one of the most interesting releases in the series. As mentioned, the demos are already quite close to the final version and there's very few moments where you'll find completely different versions or arrangements of the songs. Therefore, I don't think this album is a candidate for frequent repeated listenings.

Recommended to Marillion die-hards and collectors only.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

ED SANDER



Sensitive To Light - Almost Human
Sensitive To Light - Almost Human
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:GFT-Cyclops
Catalogue #:CYCL 156
Year of Release:2006
Time:66:06
Info:Sensitive To Light
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Pinocchio: [i] Dreams Are Coming True Tonight (1:54), [ii] Birth (12:01), Something Happened In The Garden Of Eden (10:22), Carpe Diem (6:06), Kyrie [Gepetto’s Death] (7:15), Snow (6:13), Travels (3:28), Father [The Truth] (8:36), Memories (2:15), Bonus Track: Why? (7:51)

Sensitive To Light is the latest project from guitarist, synth player, writer, producer and all round talented individual Vynce Leff. Better known as co-founder of French band Saens, he contributed extensively to the well received Escaping From The Hands Of God and Prophet In A Statistical World albums. This time round he’s working with a completely new line-up that includes Jean-Philippe Dupont on keys, Claude Thill on bass, Georgio Salvini on drums and female British vocalist Jenny Lewis. Loosely based on Carlo Collodi’s novel “Adventures of Pinocchio” this album picks up from where the book ended with the puppet Pinocchio transformed into a real boy. The story deals with the dilemma Pinocchio now finds himself in, human but no longer immortal. The flaw in the concept as far as I can see is that made of wood the puppet Pinocchio was not alive and therefore immortality was not a possibility. In any case whatever the inspiration for the album, when the result is as good this I for one have no complaints.

In essence the bands sound is not a million miles from Saens’, evidence of Leff’s strong influence on both. Whilst this album displays the same strengths as his previous works, it also shares some of the weaknesses. The songs are not as memorable as they could be and the sound is occasionally over ambitious. Whilst the album benefits from crystalline production, Leff has a tendency to place too many instruments up front in the mix to create an epic finale. On the plus side, this is imaginative and richly textured symphonic prog. The music runs the gamut of moods and tempos but always remains melodic and highly accessible. Whilst the dynamic instrumental work is the body and soul of this album, the heart definitely belongs to Jenny Lewis. Her beautiful vocals lend an almost Celtic ambience to the whole work. She also provides the lyrics to several of the songs with Leff responsible for the music for the most part.

The two opening tracks that make up the mini suite Pinocchio blend seamlessly into one. A hauntingly beautiful celestial choral arrangement provides a striking introduction. The fluid guitar solo that follows is as close to the sound of Mike Oldfield as you’re ever likely to hear and a welcome reminder of a time before his interests turned to loops and samples. The music then embarks on a glorious musical journey full of twists and turns provided by soaring guitar, swirling keys, nimble bass work and articulate drumming. The atmospheric bridge section with mellotron like strings and flute is especially effective. Lewis’ velvet vocal tones are always at the forefront with a warmth and clarity not a million miles from Iona’s Joanne Hogg. Guest musician Cyril Queneau-Pitol enriches the sound with lyrical saxophone before the piece builds to its climatic conclusion. The arrangement becomes over busy at this point with everyone involved seemingly jostling for pole position. The skilful musicianship and sharp recording just about keeps the sound on the right side of cacophonic.

The strident Something Happened incorporates Yes (Drama era) style harmonies rubbing shoulders with punchy metallic guitar riffs. The songs highlight however is the energetic and always inventive interplay between bass and drums. The slow building march section has more than a hint of Ravel's Bolero providing a majestic if not original ending. The addition of bagpipes (courtesy of synths) is a further acknowledgement of Oldfield’s influence. Guitar takes a back seat in the melodic Carpe Diem, with Jenny’s lilting vocals supported by atmospheric symphonic keys. Claude Thill’s rich bass tone again impresses. His style throughout the album often put me in mind of Tony Levin. The theatrical vocals of Kyrie are a little mannered for my tastes, but the keys dominated instrumentation compensates. The bombastic male voice choir and heavy riffs combination is a departure into Rhapsody territory. Warm organ chords reminiscent of Tony Bank’s early Hammond sound and grandiose church organ provide a stunning crescendo. Following a gentle start, Snow takes on power ballad proportions with melodic ringing guitar and a strong vocal. In contrast, Travels is a busy instrumental mixing strings, organ, synth and piano underpinned by driving power chords.

Father is a return to the ambitious style of the opening piece. Leff and Lewis share vocal duties each playing a central character in the story. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Leff’s vocal abilities do not match his guitar talents. A slow burning guitar solo makes its mark before the dramatic ending which is another intricate and multi-layered affair. Thill’s stunning bass is joined by duel vocals, soaring guitar, melodic sax, orchestral keys and pounding drums. As a footnote, the folk tinged Memories provides a moment of tranquillity with Lewis’ wordless vocals supported by reflective acoustic guitar. As bonus tracks go Why? Is a good one, and sits comfortably with the rest of the album. The instrumental work is sharp and edgy, including a sparkling Wakeman style Moog solo. The only sour note is a bizarre thrash metal vocal from Leff, which thankfully doesn’t go on for too long. Multi layered vocals from Lewis creates the illusion of a massed female choir, building to a peaceful finale with delicate classical guitar and a sweet vocal. At this point I could have gladly listened to more from the band, and considering the album clocks in at over an hour that’s a healthy sign.

Minor reservations aside, this is an impressive and highly enjoyable album from Sensitive To Light. As far as I can tell Saens is still an on-going entity so I fully hope that this debut does not prove to be a one-off. In terms of sheer scale and dynamics, this is a fine example of the heights that progressive rock can scale. It is also a strong testimony to the vision and artistry of Vynce Leff. For those won over by either of the last two Saens albums I feel sure will take this release to their hearts. It should also appeal to admirers of the more adventurous neo-prog bands. I would also single out Iona, Mostly Autumn, Karnataka, and Magenta as points of reference, if only for the compelling presence of Jenny Lewis.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Mermaid Kiss - Salt On Skin
Mermaid Kiss - Salt On Skin
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:MERM 02 CD
Year of Release:2006
Time:29:45
Info:Mermaid Kiss
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: The Blushing Bride (5:35), Walk Away (3:41), Hollow (5:09), Human Zoo (4:41), A Hard Row (4:34), Volcano (3:48), I Go To Sleep (1:56)

There is something about the female voice in progressive rock that for me has a compelling attraction. The combination of dramatic instrumentation and angelic vocal tones can produce magical results. It can also give the music a broader, and dare I say it more commercial edge. Back in the early 70’s it was mostly folk based bands that included female singers and even then they often shared the role with a male counterpart. Performers like Annie Haslam (Renaissance) and Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) were very much in the minority. The situation has improved in recent years, a move spearheaded by bands like Mostly Autumn and Karnataka. With 2006 almost at the half way mark, the year has already seen some notable female fronted prog releases. Marie Ingerslev (Mary), Ileesha Bailey (Karda Estra), Jenny Lewis (Sensitive To Light), and Christina Booth (Magenta) amongst others have all made an impact. Mermaid Kiss maintain the momentum with a release featuring no less than three female lead vocalists.

This release is actually the brainchild of the three male band members, Jamie Field, Andrew Garman, and Nigel Hooton. Between them they take care of the majority of the instrumental, writing and production duties. Taking the spotlight however are Evelyn Downing, Kate Belcher, and Kate Emerson. These three singers each worked separately with the band following Evelyn’s appearance on their debut album Mermaid Kiss three years ago. Judging by the photographs on the inside cover, all three are very youthful which explains the purity of tone displayed throughout the album. Although it would be fair to say that the songs are mostly on the mellow side, the vocal styles are very distinctive. After only way play, it wasn’t difficult to distinguish the singer of each song without consulting the sleeve notes. Promoted as an EP, it compensates for its relatively short playing time with an engaging and polished collection of songs and performances.

It’s always a wise move to kick off with one of the stronger songs, and this album makes no exception to the rule. One of the more recent songs The Blushing Bride benefits from a memorable chorus with a soaring and confident delivery from Kate Emerson. On Walk Away, which she co-wrote, Kate Belcher sings with an almost cool detachment. Her style reminded me of Judie Tzuke. In contrast, Evelyn Downing’s heartfelt vocals in Hollow have a fragile vulnerability. This release has more to offer than vocal diversity however. The Blushing Bride includes a brief but lyrical solo from guest and ex Karnataka guitarist Paul Davies. Andrew Garman’s cool and jazzy piano on Walk Away effectively mirrors the vocal. The hypnotic rhythm of Human Zoo is embellished with some meaty lead guitar from Nigel Hooton. Flute and piano provide gentle support to Kate Emerson’s sublime vocal on the atmospheric A Hard Row. In the restless Volcano, swirling electronics underpin Evelyn Downing’s edgy delivery, sounding very like Kate Bush this time round. The piano led I Go To Sleep is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard so far this year, what a pity it’s over so quickly.

At less than 30 minutes, this is a compact disc in every sense of the word. Even so, it’s an entertaining, some times thought provoking, and often tender collection of songs. It’s interesting to note a shift in style from the earlier to the more recent material on this release. There appears to be a move away from the almost experimental style to a lighter and more commercial sound. It will be interesting to see how the band develops in the future. For now, this release has much to recommend it. The song writing, performances and production are consistently of a very high standard. As a mini-album, it is also very keenly priced so it will not cost an arm and a leg to check this one out. I should also give a special mention to the album artwork, which is quite the most sensuous I’ve seen in a very long time.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



The Royal Dan - The Royal Dan ~ A Tribute
The Royal Dan - The Royal Dan ~ A Tribute
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Mascot Records
Catalogue #:M 7189 2
Year of Release:2006
Time:58:29
Info:Jeff Richman
Samples:-

Tracklist: Peg (6:35), Bodhisattva (4:33), Home At Last (6:08), Aja (7:20), Pretzel Logic (6:04), Josie (6:14), Dirty Work (5:34), The Fez (5:11), FM (5:56), Hey Nineteen (4:49)

Jeff Richman has released twelve solo albums but over the last couple of years has overseen the production of a series of instrumental tribute albums to some of the giants of jazz and jazz rock. Previous releases have seen John Coltrane, Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra given the Richman treatment and now it is the turn of Steely Dan. The recordings feature a core band comprised of Zappa alumni Vinnie Colaitua (drums), Peter Wolf (keyboards) and Ernie Watts (saxophones) along with Jimmy Haslip (bass) and Richman himself (rhythm guitar). Richman's status in the music industry is shown by the stellar array of featured guitarists that grace each track, Robben Ford, Steve Morse, Al Di Meola and Steve Lukather to name but four.

Given the meticulousness of Becker and Fagan and their almost obsessiveness to get everything just right in the arrangement and performance of each of their compositions, rearranging the songs to suit the style of each of the individual guitarists while maintaining the core ident of the piece could have been no easy matter. Rearranging for guitar in particular must have been a forbidding task as the original pieces were had by some the finest session musicians in the business playing on them. The project ran the risk of being a poor imitation of the originals. Fortunately, Richman's arrangements are spot on and despite being all instrumental each track retains the essence of the original but also offers a fine interpretation.

Kicking of with Peg, Robben Ford adds a blues vibe emphasised by Watts' saxophone. A blues feel is maintained for Bodhisattva where Deep Purple's Steve Morse adds double-tracked guitar and impresses more in the four and a half minutes of the song than he does on the whole of the latest Purple album. Home Again features the talents of top sessioner Jay Graydon (who played on the original recording of Peg) and is a rather more laid back affair although there is a scorching solo at the end. Aja, title track of the album that is widely regarded as THE perfect album, is the most radically rearranged song with an extended introduction and the main melody not starting until almost two minutes have elapsed. Another fifty seconds goes by before the nylon string guitar of Al Di Meola can be heard. A much jazzier reading than the original and Di Meola's playing is exemplary.

Pretzel Logic has Steve Lukather letting loose adding a heaviness to the proceedings. Richman himself takes the lead on Josie although personally I found it one of the least satisfying with the jazz vibe being rather over egged, particularly the sax. Mike Stern, who started out with Blood, Sweat and Tears and subsequently toured with a multitude of jazz giants, takes the mood down on Dirty Work while Jimmy Herring (who is a frequent contributor to Phil Lesh and friends concerts and also played with the remnants of The Grateful Dead when they went out as The Other Ones after Jerry Garcia's untimely death) sticks to a pretty faithful rendition of The Fez.

A rather funky FM is excellently handled by Frank Gambale, star of Chick Corea's Electrik Band, while the album is rounded off with Elliott Randall, another guitarist that graces several original Dan albums and notably contributed the solo to Reelin' In The Years, making a solid contribution to Hey Nineteen.

This album offers a host of the finest guitarists playing with first-rate musicians. If you are a fan of the Dan then these interpretations offer another side to the songs, if you are not the album is still worth hearing for the superb performances.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Osirys – Osirys
Osirys – Osirys
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea - Dreaming
Catalogue #:DR 8434
Year of Release:2006
Time:76:31
Info:Osirys
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Part 1: Un long poèm d’hivers: Livre premier des princes guerriers flamboyants (5:32), Cyborg oiseaux (6:05), Une mer trop large un espace trop froid (4:52), On peut savoir de loin des choses qu’on ne voit pas (8:14), Livre troisième des vibrations incontrôlées des douleurs articulaires (4:23); Part 2: Les portes de l’ailleurs: L’ignorance, là où on ne sait pas (5:48), Les Sept portes (28:09), En quête d’illumination (8:23), Brocélidande (5:00)

I believe more strongly than do many others that the reviewing of art is not an entirely or even mostly subjective enterprise. If I believed otherwise, I wouldn’t do it: it’d be a waste of my time and a waste of my readers’ time. Certainly, our personal preferences enter very strongly into our judgements of art – as they should and as they must. But what makes a review different from, say, a conversation about a book, a painting, or a piece of music is that the reviewer’s job is to acknowledge and account for (though never deny or discount) his or her own tastes and beliefs. I take this responsibility seriously, and thus, no matter how much I like or dislike any album I’m sent for review, I keep in mind at all times the reader in search of objective and useful evaluation, and I do what I can to provide it.

Sometimes, though (you saw this coming, didn’t you?), I have to admit that I like something even though I realize that many, many others won’t much like it. In such cases – Osirys is certainly one – it’s my job to give my reasons for liking the work a lot while providing sufficient information to allow others to assess the likelihood that they’ll like it or dislike it. So here goes: I like Osirys a lot, but many others won’t.

Osirys is, apparently, one man – Jean-Pierre Prudent, described in Musea’s always-delightful promotional literature as a “composer-songwriter” (is that redundant or not?). And the music on the album is, again apparently, again according to Musea’s blurb, “meant to be oneiric landscapes.” What – you don’t know what “oneiric” means? Well, I’m a university teacher of English, and I didn’t, either. But I looked it up for the benefit of us all: it means “Of, relating to, or suggestive of dreams.” And, for once, Musea’s promo writers have it right. The best way to describe all the pieces on this album is “dreamlike.” However, I’ll remind you that not all dreams are pleasant, just as not all the pieces here are soothing or soporific. Some – check out Une mer trop large un espace trop froid in particular – are downright creepy. In fact, the most prominent instrument throughout the album is slightly discordant, slightly dissonant piano – an instrument second only, of course, to the calliope as the traditional accompaniment to a cinematically depicted bad dream. Accompanying the piano are washes of synthesizer and percussion – again, sometimes calming, sometimes disturbing, depending on the track. If you’ve seen Gerard Depardieu’s breakthrough Hollywood movie Green Card and recall the scene in which he plays a “composition” about saving the trees – well, you’ll have a good idea what this whole album is like. I doubt it’s improvised, but much of it seems that way.

I can’t really single out this or that piece for praise, because they’re all similar. If what I’ve said about the dissonance and the attempt to create atmosphere sounds interesting to you, you’re likely to enjoy this CD, as I do. However, it’s neither progressive nor rock, so be warned. It’s more like an extended sonic experiment, or perhaps a series of tone poems – those of you who are fans of symphonic music, think of Frederick Delius, although the similarity is more to the intent than to the music itself (note that the first part of this CD is collectively entitled “A Long Winter Poem” and think of Delius’s Song Of Summer). In my opinion, the composer-performer succeeds admirably at what he means to do; it’s true, though, that what he does will not be to all tastes.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

GERALD WANDIO



Free Love - Official Bootleg Vol 1
Free Love - Official Bootleg Vol 1 Concert 2005 Sapporo
Country of Origin:Japan
Format:CD
Record Label:Vital
Catalogue #:VR-022
Year of Release:2006
Time:34:04
Info:Free Love
Samples:-

Tracklist: Long Way To Kashmir (3:51), Spiral (7:01), Maze Of Psycho (8:28), Shangri-La (14:42)

Free Love are a four-piece Japanese band whose members at the time of this recording were: Hiroaki Shibata (guitar and vocals), Hiroki Matsui (organ and synthesisers), Atsushi Motohashi (drums) and Yuji Hayakawa (bass). Shortly after this recording the band underwent a change of bass player with Tatsuya Ai stepping in to take over four-string duties. This official bootleg live mini album has been released in advance of their first (?) full length studio album, Incubus, demos for which were initially recorded back in 2001.

Based firmly in the rock category Shibata's heavy riffing and the organ playing of Matsui, is reminiscent of Deep Purple or even Uriah Heep. These comparisons are best heard on the percussion rich Maze Of Psycho and Shangri-La although the effect is somewhat marred by the vocals on these pieces. I know it must be incredibly difficult for anyone to sing in a foreign language, particularly for our Japanese friends, but Shibata (who also writes all the material) is simply not the strongest of singers. Still, Shangri-La does feature quite an extensive instrumental section which is possibly semi-improvised but interesting none-the-less. The other two tracks, both instrumental, see the band going full-out on in the Zeppelinesque Long Way To Kashmir and becoming rather repetitive on the more synth-laden Spiral.

Free Love are interesting enough but don't really have a lot to offer for the progressive rock fan seeking new musical experiences. Perhaps the studio album will contain a greater degree of variety although one suspects that that they are happy producing 70s inspired rock music.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Gods of Electricity - Sundiving
Gods of Electricity - Sundiving
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Faith Strange
Catalogue #:FS6
Year of Release:2005
Time:61:16
Info:Gods Of
Electricity
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Clouds Of Granite In A Clearing Sky (38:14) ~ Movement One: Dramland, Movement Two: Starstreams, Movement Three: The Sky Opens Below, The Whole Electric City In Front Of Us (2:08), Slick-O-Phonic (10:24), The Sound You Make When You Reach for Tomorrow (3:40), Sundiving (6:40)

“In this world/the gods have lost their way.”
Jon Anderson/”Spirit of Survival,” Magnification (2001)

OK, Mr. Anderson probably wasn’t singing about Gods Of Electricity…but he should have been.

I’m struggling with Sundiving, to be truthful. As a reviewer, I do like to accentuate the positive because I understand that I’m reviewing someone’s artistry that much hard work probably went into the recording of the CD. But this is wretched.

For what’s it’s worth, the band is Mike Fazio (circuits, wires, meters, frets, white light) and Thomas Hamlin (hands, sticks, skins, swing, white light). Wait, did I just type “circuits” and “wires”? I did, in fact, and that explains the sound of this album. If machines suddenly gained independent sentience, and could speak together in a pulsating electromagnetic language, then Sundiving would be their thesaurus. It is a compilation of grindy, sterile, mechanical, metallic noise with some compositional integrity, granted…but not a lot. How this constitutes “music” I can’t say. It sounds like noise, maybe construction site clanging or Sony’s inner sanctum labs. What is the contemporary fascination with sheer noisiness? It’s either really hip or really stupid: You tell me…

Anyway, this could possibly serve as a soundtrack to something, but not to any part of my organic life. “Warning, Will Rogers: Avoid.”

Conclusion: 2 out of 10

JOHN J SHANNON




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