Album Reviews

Issue 2023-095

Aurora Clara — Dreams

Aurora Clara - Dreams
Beyond The Tetrachords (7:32), Para Gato y Carlos (5:45), River Of January (7:44), Dezoito de setembro (6:20), Deep 'n Blue (4:55), I Remember Shakti (7:04), Epilog (2:04)
Owen Davies

I listened intently to the inner conversation with myself hoping to find a starting point for this review. "I really liked this bands last two releases. Is Dreams as good?" (It is different but just as satisfying), "Does it furrow the brow or curl the lips?" (My crescent moon smile says it all), "Does it have its own style and identity?" (Most definitely!)

I pondered on these initial thoughts and gave myself some guidance to "give it some time, do not forget to look beyond its familiar soundscape, remember to seek out its hidden subtleties. More than anything else, make sure that you slowly savour and appreciate the performance of the players and their brilliant mastery of their instruments".

It turned out to be good advice, after many weeks in the company of this release, I have grown to enjoy it more every day and have discovered many things about it that were not immediately apparent. For example, the rhythm sections wonderful performance can almost go unnoticed on an album that is often dominated by Flute and guitar and embellished by some fine piano and keyboard parts.

Therefore, once I was familiar with the albums tunes, I tried to concentrate on bassist Nill Oliveira and drummer Marc Halbheer's contribution. (Dreams marks these musicians recording debut for the band) The new rhythm section certainly create and provide a versatile and firm scaffold for the prominent instruments on the record to excel and impress. The excellent use of percussion by Iván Mellén is also undoubtedly one of the albums standout components.

Dreams wears its influences boldly; these pervade almost all aspects of Aurora Clara's likeable approach.

If you enjoy the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the finely balanced guitar tones of Carlos Santana, then much of Dreams will undoubtedly be appealing.

Aurora Clara's previous album was favourably reviewed by DPRP.

Whilst Dreams is perhaps not quite as appealing, it nevertheless, is probably one of my favourite albums of 2023.

Dreams as its title suggests, is a little more reflective and less frenetic than the bands previous albums. Certainly, there are a few delicately woven slower compositions that contain delicious acoustic interludes. Overall, the release has a much more acoustic feel than its predecessors.

Consequently, the release has a great feel of balance and the carefully chosen running order of tunes simply helps to reinforce this. Slower tunes with evocative melodies are majestically complemented by fiery pieces that, (as in their previous albums) highlight the bands exciting use of flute and guitar.

However, Dreams is in many ways a natural development of the bands heavily Mahavishnu influenced previous releases. The subtle nylon and steel string acoustic guitar touches, solos and embellishments provide Dreams with another layer of sophistication to add to the bands easily recognisable style.

On tracks such as Para Gato y Carlos and during Deep 'n Blue (which also features some fine flamenco acoustic guitar passages), guitarist Raul Mannola also adopts some of the phrasings and tones that are often associated with Carlos Santana. This provides Dreams with a wonderful mix of guitar timbres and styles. The mixture of Mclaughlin styled playing and Santana's clean tones certainly works well across the album.

As in their previous releases, the flute and guitar often play in unison. This creates an easily defined ambience in tunes like the powerful and impressive opener Beyond The Tetrachords.

I particularly enjoyed River Of January. Its quick-slow-quick interludes, numerous changes of direction, fluid acoustic guitar embellishments, quirky carnival rhythms, nimble flute runs and gorgeous electric piano interjections had me catching my breath, or better still, dancing in the aisles.

I felt that Deep 'n Blue was probably the most accessible track on the album. It features an impressive flute passage that simply shimmers and shines in a delicate spotlight slot. Indeed, Juan Carlos Aracil's performance on the silver tube is impressive throughout.

The beauty of his performance in Deep 'n Blue seduced me. The long-lasting, memory-shadow of its melody washed my spirit with a soothing, frothed-flute balm.

The bands execution of all aspects of Deep 'n Blue was just about perfect. Special mention must be made of the beautiful crafted guitar solo that dominates the second half of the piece. The tune has lots of ingredients to admire and every component impressed. None more so than, the delightful call and response between flute and guitar that emerges and then fades to nothing as the piece recedes to silence. A beautiful ending to an attractive tune!

However, for many listeners, I Remember Shakti will no doubt be regarded as the pinnacle of the bands achievement on the album. This tribute to Shakti manages to capture some of the essence of that bands exciting fusion of Indian and Western music.

Just like the recognisable approach of the original Shakti, Aurora Clara's tribute tune mixes some twisting guitar lines with an infectious percussive beat. Tabla player Tino di Geraldo makes a telling contribution. The piece also has an exciting electric piano interlude that fizzes with energy; add some flute into this invigorating mix, and it is no surprise that I Remember Shakti is an absolute winner. I love it.

I enjoyed this release when I first heard it. Since then, I have given it lots of time to fully bed in. I am so glad that I looked beyond its clear and accessible character, as it is an album that continues to reveal itself with each subsequent play.

Highly recommended!

Joshua Burnell — The Glass Knight

Joshua Burnell - The Glass Knight
Where Planets Collide (4:19), Out Of These Worlds (3:09), Last Rain (4:21), Played My Part (4:47), Glass Knight (4:50), Looking Glass (4:48), Don't Lose Your Faith (4:25), Lucy (5:32), Why The Raven Cries (4:43), Moonlighter's Child (5:44)
Theo Verstrael

Looking online for information on York-based artist Joshua Burnell generates quite a few sites on which his whereabouts during his young years are described, travelling between his country of birth France and several places in the U.K. as well as numerous mentions of his musical activities. I also encountered a most interesting description of hist latest album The Glass Knight, describing the music as "Imagine The War On Drugs meets Genesis with lashings of Peter Gabriel styling" (quote from The Guardian). I seriously doubt if the writer has ever listened to the music he mentions for I hear absolutely nothing of these artists in Burnells latest offering.

Another tag often used to characterize the music on this album is David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust period and although that may be a little too much honour, I understand that better. For this is a very listenable, varied and creative album offering different musical styles meanwhile loosely telling various stories of how mankind deals with the real and fairytale world amongst him. In spite of the sometimes dark lyrics, beautifully printed in the colourful booklet accompanying the album, the overall mood of the ten songs is light and positive and in this two-faced character the album strengthens its striking resemblance with Bowie's alter ego.

Burnell has been around since his 2016 debut album Into The Green. Until now, he was primarily active in the folk and prog-folk realm with considerable success, especially with his five-piece live band. I guess that some of the musicians playing on the album (Nathan Greaves on electric guitar and backing vocals, Oliver Whitehouse on bass, Ed Simpson on drums, Frances Sladen on backing vocals, Kathleen Ord and Elizabeth Heyes-Lundie on violins, Ellen Brookes and Rhiannon Fallows on violas and Greg Morton and Ele Leckie on cello) also form part of his live band. Burnell himself takes care of acoustic guitars, piano and keyboards as well as the string arrangements and programming, apart from all lead vocals. His Bandcamp-page mentions all musicians playing on each song as well as the inspiration for each song, a really nice gesture to the listeners.

The Glass Knight is his first album to be reviewed on, as he chose to firmly diverge from his folk roots in these ten catchy and poppy tunes. The structures and moods of these songs are rather straightforward, so without remarkable hooks or odd time signatures. The music is well-played and the production is crystal-clear. Listen for instance to the energetic opener Where Planets Collide followed by the soft ballad Out Of These Worlds and the fierce title track with its heavy synth solo, and you'll get a nice overview of the different styles the album offers.

Some songs suffer a bit from a high level of repetition, such as Played My Part and Lucy, which makes them a bit too predictable. The latter is saved by a really fine guitar solo. Too bad there aren't more of those on the album! On the other hand we have the beautiful ballad Out Of These Worlds with just piano, soft acoustic guitar and a beautiful vocal melody; the strings-drenched slow song Why The Raven Cried with fine guitar and a surprising musical built-up; and the really beautiful Moonlighter's Child, a very proggy closer. In the two last songs Burnell shows his talent as a prog musician which will hopefully lead to more prog songs or, even better, prog albums in the near future.

In spite of the amalgamation of styles this album is far from a mixed bag. Burnell's pleasant voice, maybe a bit limited in range but clear and warm, keeps the songs together as he knows exactly in what range he should sing. The music on this album is strongly reminiscent of Sutherlands Brothers & Quiver, Al Stewart in the seventies, Magna Carta or Steve Thorne. Lightweight prog with very catchy and melodious melodies, well produced and mixed and instantly likeable.

The Chronicles Of Father Robin — The Songs & Tales Of Airoea – Book II: Ocean Traveller

The Chronicles Of Father Robin - The Songs & Tales Of Airoea – Book II: Ocean Traveller
Over Westwinds (3:59), Orias & the Underwater City (8:37), Ocean Traveller (6:22), Lady Of Waves (5:38), Green Refreshments (7:09), The Grand Reef (7:13)
Martin Burns

Following on from The Songs And Tales Of Airoea - Book I: The Tales Of Father Robin and his travels through the archaic world of Airoea, Book II sees Father Robin journeying to the underwater city of Oriasaleah and over the Sea of Ayrouhr. There, on the Grand Reef, he faces grave danger at the hands of the island people.

This release from the 70's classic inspired prog collective The Chronicles of Father Robin (TCOFR). Featuring the same line-up of members as in Book I. That is of Tusmorke, Wobbler, Jordsjo, and The Samuel Jackson Five, details of which are on Greg's positive review of Book I. Book II sees the same mix of lush keyboards, prominent flute, folky acoustic guitar and lithe bass and drums, with some nice vocals and vocal harmonies.

With only six tracks, Book II is fairly concise with tracks all under the ten-minute mark, so no real epics by definition of length here. Just detailed arrangements, lovely melodies and everything the prog fan who loves the classics of the genre to enjoy. TCOFR are inspired by that era but without it being any kind of carbon copy or heritage retro prog.

The opening track, Over Westwinds, though is an oddity, as it seems to be Father Robin's prayer for safe passage, a prog-folk prayer with the harmony singing of "Kyrie Eleison" ("Lord have mercy") over gently strummed acoustic guitar. The album gets going properly with Orias & The Underwater City swooping and burbling synths (Dik Mik style from early 70s Hawkwind) from which a simple but effective melody is developed by picked guitars, bass, lovely flute, and what sounds like programmed drums joined later by organ.

All good so far, but then for me, TCOFR make a huge mistake by having it degenerate into cheesy late 70s, early 80s, synth pop. Out of place to say the least. It threw me out of the mood they had painstakingly created, so much so that I nearly stopped listening there and then.

But, luckily they get back on track with the waltz rhythm of Ocean Traveller. A full band work out with piano and picked guitars prominent it has the feel of Robert Wyatt jamming with Gentle Giant. The heavier Lady Of Waves follows on with a folky flute and acoustics develops into that 70s rocky prog very satisfyingly.

The heaviness continues on Green Refreshments with guitar riffs challenged by the flute for supremacy and an excellent bass driven groove. A highlight of Book II. The album closes with The Grand Reef which is an up-tempo flute led continuation of the previous track's sound world, but with added organ fills and a great synth solo.

If you can ignore the just under three minutes of cheesy synth pop then The Chronicles of Father Robin's The Songs & Tales Of Airoea – Book II: Ocean Traveller is a great slice of 70s-inspired prog rock. That on occasions does properly rock, as well as give you plenty of flute and acoustic guitar bases prog-folk song-smithery.

All three books of the Father Robin story are available now, and what fabulous cover art they all have, by illustrator Lars Bigum Kvernberg, right up there with Roger Dean.

Colouratura — WTF Was That?!

Colouratura - WTF Was That?!
WTF Was That?! (1:47), Toy Soldier (3:50), Flim-Flam Man (5:21), Side Hustle (2:36), Lousy Smarch Weather (4:24), (Away (4:35), Palace Of Blood (5:47), SIMR (3:19), Sleeping Giant (8:48), The LSD No-No (5:06), Mothman (6:14)
Greg Cummins

Colouratura are an American band that have released album number four to an audience that I suspect would probably be limited to their home country as I have never heard much about their existence until now. I would imagine, given the plethora of bands vying for the public's dollar these days, not too many from Europe would have encountered the band before either.

The band carry David Bowie, Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Styx, Peter Gabriel, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard as their influences. I also hear a vague similarity on the second song, Flim-Flam Man to an old rock standard by Spooky Tooth called The Wrong Time. Official press information also suggest nods to Traffic, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Anekdoten, although I don't detect very much of the latter.

This could easily be filed under eclectic rock from the 70s with a smattering of art rock but with a lesser impact from the progressive rock spectrum. Previous albums from the band have not generated very much impact with the global market with only a handful of fans giving a rating on RateYourMusic. While this can be expected with such a fractured musical market these days, for any band wishing to generate a lot of interest I feel the music needs to reach a higher plateau. Although the playing, singing and instrumental ability of the players is not in question here, I feel the material just falls short with that crucial replayability factor.

The songs on the album are quite diverse and cover probably more territory than the band may have wished to undertake. Such diversity may in fact come at the expense of cohesion as the band confess with their press release that the album is not an easy one to pin down or categorise. You got that right! To quote Ian Beabout, their backing vocalist, flautist, keyboardist, "It is a bit all over the place and that is the purpose. While potentially not as focused as the previous album, Black Steeple Church, what it does offer is plenty of eclecticism and variety to sink your musical mind into". I couldn't have said it better myself.

Although I have not heard any of the band's previous albums, I understand their second release, Unfamiliar Skies made a bigger impact and rates much better than their other offerings. Perhaps this is the perfect example of an album that I might need to revisit in 3 months time to see if it contains anything that I missed on the first go round.

D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings — Sophomore

D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings - Sophomore
Hard To Be Easy (5:09), Linger At The Edge Of My Memory (5:04), Tiny Little Fires (3:32), Right Where You Should Be (3:43), The Weary One (4:45), Mama (3:52), I'm Not Afraid (3:57), Weighs Me Down (4:12), Walking On Water (5:18), Anywhere The Wind Blows (4:29), Right Where You Should be (Alternative Version) (3:43), The Weary One (Alternative Version) (4:46)
Armin Rößler

The only surprising thing about this album for the prog fan is probably the timing of its release. Autumn doesn't seem to be the right season for this kind of music. It would suit much better in spring or perhaps even best in gentle summer nights when you sit around a campfire. Yes, Nick D'Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex-Spock's Beard), Neal Morse (The Neal Morse Band, Transatlantic, Flying Colors, ex-Spock's Beard) and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) have done it a second time, delivering with Sophomore another recording of West Coast pop in the style of Crosby, Stills & Nash plus a little folk and country. Anyone familiar with Troika, the trio's debut, knows where the journey is heading and will not be surprised, because Sophomore is the logical continuation – the second collaboration between the three singers and musicians seems even more coherent. The campfire romance is fueled by three-part vocals and lots of acoustic guitars, the songs are easy on the ear, and the mood is relaxed.

Three prog musicians on pop paths? That's not surprising either. Neal Morse already indulged to the lighter muse on his first two solo albums (Neal Morse from 1999 and It's Not Too Late from 2001), lived out his preference for polyphonic vocals in the type of Gentle Giant or Yes with Spock's Beard and included some Beatles-esque melodies on the Transatlantic albums. And after the Neal Morse Band covered Bridge Over Troubled Water on their last album Innocence And Danger (2021), to be honest rather out of place among all the prog pieces, it was reported that the famous Simon & Garfunkel song is often sung together at home by the Morse family.

Nick D'Virgilio? He drummed on pop albuma by Genesis (Calling All Stations, 1997) or Tears For Fears (Secret World Live in Paris, 2006), and his solo albums Karma (2001) and Invisible (2020) also cover a very broad musical spectrum. And perhaps someone still remembers the duo tour of Messrs Morse and D'Virgilio through various Irish pubs, which was documented on the double CD Nick 'n Neal – Two Separate Gorillas – Live In Europe (2000) and features songs by The Beatles, The Who and U2, among others. Finally, Ross Jennings, who stands for the heavier prog metal variant with his regular band Haken, has also shown singer-songwriter ambitions with his solo debut A Shadow of my Future Self (2021). So there's nothing surprising here.

Prog fans who are prepared to get involved with Sophomore will be rewarded with pleasant, beautiful melodies, which may sound a little too shallow for some. You shouldn't expect too much variety anyway. Mama, the only track where the electric guitars roar, unfortunately doesn't fit in at all – perhaps the song would work in a different context, but here it seems out of place. Otherwise, a melodious sound prevails, which is convincingly presented. Hard To Be Easy is the perfect example to start with. Weighs Me Down is a little more solemn, followed by the very emotional Linger At The Edge Of My Memory – stylistically, all three songs fit together well, although they were written by three different composers and are performed by three different lead singers. Definitely a highlight: The Weary One, a Morse composition, as you can hear after just a few bars. Right Where You Should Be is very close to kitsch with its country touch. Anywhere The Wind Blows is refreshingly relaxed and casual, Tiny Little Fires is upbeat and cheerful. The list could go on and on, the choruses are catchy, the melodies are pleasant to listen to and beautiful in a simple way. As nice as it all is, you have to honestly assume that none of the songs will ever reach the classic status of their great role models.

All in all, Sophomore is an album for the more relaxed moments in life, nothing you could grapple with or that reverberates for too long. The limited edition CD contains two bonus songs – alternative versions of Right Where You Should Be and The Weary One – and the LP is released on red vinyl and a limited edition blue vinyl.

Colin Edwin & Robert Jürjendal — The Weight Of A Shadow

Colin Edwin & Robert Jürjendal - The Weight Of A Shadow
Barely Visible (5:31), Cyclic Drift (5:40), The Weight Of A Shadow (4:37), Time To Find The Sun (5:01), Soul Blizzard (4:27), Unknown Hands (4:13), The Grid (5:48), Springunal (4:48), Penumbra (4:54), Shadow Ritual (4:51), Sub Flow (3:54), Back To The Light (4:24)
Martin Burns

Colin Edwin and Robert Jürjendal's The Weight Of A Shadow is their follow up to 2018's Another World. The duo of Colin Edwin on fretted, fretless and double bass, E-bow and programming, and Robert Jürjendal on electric guitar, U8 Touch guitar and 12-string guitar, have made an album of quiet power.

On an initial listen it feels a little one paced and samey, but further listens dispel those first impressions, and you discover The Weight Of A Shadow has a lot more to it, as you would from musicians of their pedigree. This instrumental album is a cousin to that Nordic jazz sound associated with the ECM label, but here there is more of a progressive touch.

On this album Edwin's bass provides slinky grooves for the experimental, windscreen guitar soundscapes' of Jürjendal that manage to be forceful in a quiet way ,as he adds riffs amongst the gentle guitar pyrotechnics. Edwin's programming provides minimalist drums and percussion.

The opening track, Barely Visible, shows what this collaboration is all about. Introduced by Edwin's fretless bass, with an emphasis on the harmonics of his instrument played in a jazzy mode. Jürjendal's guitar joins to develop the soundscape at a leisurely pace that ends with chopping riffs and a feedback laden solo, this is like Jaco Pastorius jamming with Stephen Thelan. However, jamming does a disservice to the thought out structure, melodic sense and intensity of performance to the music here.

Some of the pieces have the soundtrack feel of Angelo Badalamenti and Ennio Morricone. The music varies with each detailed melodic track. Taking in post-rock vibes and Porcupine Tree-like melodies (Soul Blizzard), progressive ambient (Unknown Hands), minimalist grooves (The Grid, Springunal) and the wonderful glitchy blues of Shadow Ritual.

Colin Edwin and Robert Jürjendal's The Weight Of A Shadow is a surprising delight. Detailed, soothingly intense and above all tuneful.

Giant Sky — Giant Sky II

Giant Sky - Giant Sky II
Disc 1: Origin Of The Species (Part 1-6) (2:19), Imposter (4:23), Speak Through Walls (7:21), Space Farrier (6:08), The Present (3:38), To The Pensieve (5:53), Dispatch Of Species (2:58).
Disc 2: Curbing Lights (2:00), I Am The Night (10:21), Birds With Borders (7:04), Tables Turn (6:18), King In Yellow (3:53), Seeds (6:48)
Greg Cummins

In the ever-evolving landscape of music, Giant Sky's second album emerges as a minor masterpiece, pushing the boundaries of their own artistry and setting a new standard for the genre. This 2023 release not only showcases a continuation and development from their previous album but also demonstrates the collective prowess of the musicians involved. From the first note to the last, Giant Sky II is an auditory journey that captivates the listener with its innovative soundscapes, thought-provoking lyrics, and seamless collaboration.

One of the most striking aspects of the band's latest offering is the musical evolution from their debut in 2021. While their earlier works displayed a promising degree of talent, this follow-up is a testament to the band's growth and maturity. The production quality is superbly refined, with each track meticulously crafted to create a cohesive and immersive experience.

The album weaves together elements of alternative rock, post-rock, crossover prog, electronic, and ambient music, showcasing a versatility that was seamlessly exploited on their earlier release. This evolution is not merely a change in style but a deliberate and successful exploration of new sonic territories, reflecting the band's commitment to artistic progression.

For those not familiar with the band, you may have come across their main musical contributor, Erlend Aastad Viken, who established the Norwegian band, Soup in 2004. They released a slew of excellent albums, with the best being, Children Of The E.L.B. (2010), The Beauty of Our Youth (2013), Remedies (2017), and Visions (2021). Soup have been described as a melding of Sigur Rós, Porcupine Tree, Mogwai and Anathema and to a large extent, the same could be said of Giant Sky as those influences are hard to shake.

Joining Erlend (vocals, guitars, acoustic guitars, drums, synthesizers, banjo), is Ivan Ushakov (flutes), Jonas Viken (strings), Vegard Bjerkan (church organs, synth arpeggio), Marina Skanche (vocals, guitars, Erhu - Chinese 2 stringed bowed instrument), Espen Berge (Soup - drums), Rhys Marsh (lapsteel), Erlend Solli Aune (bass / piano) together with a number of male and female vocalists, too numerous to count.

One of the defining features of the album is the evident synergy among the musicians. Each member's contribution is not only felt but celebrated, creating a collective energy that elevates the album to new heights. Similarly, the band doesn't merely rely on musical prowess; its lyrical depth is equally commendable. The album explores a range of themes, from introspective self-discovery to cosmic sojourns to social commentary, delivering a profound and thought-provoking narrative. The lyrics are poetic yet accessible, inviting listeners to connect with the music on a personal level. The underlying ambience of this album lies within its ability to impart very sombre and melancholic moods in one moment then to quickly change gears and shift to a more explosive style of delivery, moments later. It's all very well done and allows you to fully immerse yourself within its clutching fingers of intrigue as to what comes next.

Each track tells a story, creating a cohesive narrative that unfolds throughout the album. The juxtaposition of introspective songs and high-energy anthems allows for a dynamic listening experience, keeping the audience engaged from start to finish. I must confess, it took me at least 6 spins of the album to allow it to fully penetrate the inner sanctum of my brain as the complexity of the music would not allow such a benefit after only a single play. The album is also further enhanced if heard through a decent set of headphones.

The overall appeal of Giant Sky's second album is nothing short of magnetic. It possesses the rare quality of being both experimental and accessible, making it appealing to a broad audience. The melodies are infectious, the production is polished, and the thematic depth adds a layer of intellectual engagement that distinguishes it from mere mainstream offerings.

The production quality on this album is also a testament to the band's commitment to sonic excellence. The mixing and mastering allow each instrument to shine, ensuring that every subtle nuance is captured, enhancing the overall listening experience. The dynamic range is vast, creating moments of intense crescendos and delicate interludes that pull the listener deeper into the celestial soundscape.

Giant Skies II stands as a testament to the band's continued evolution and artistic growth. The cohesion, maturity, and technical proficiency displayed throughout the record are commendable. The musicians' individual contributions harmonize seamlessly, creating a sonic tapestry that is both ambitious and emotionally evocative. The album successfully captures the essence of a cosmic journey, inviting the listener to explore the vast expanses of Giant Skies' musical universe. While retaining the atmospheric beauty and complexity that fans have come to expect, the band has managed to push their boundaries further, delivering an album that feels like a culmination of their artistic journey thus far. I wonder where their next spatial journey takes us next?

Nicely done!

Orion — Passing Through

Orion - Passing Through
The Tumult Of My Heart (5:06), The Ghosts Among Us (8:06), This Sickness (4:22)
Jan Buddenberg

After having devoted a large part of his lifetime towards the creation of his excellent debut album The End Of Suffering, multi-instrumentalist Ben Jones (aka Orion) intends to release his sophomore album in 2024. This brand new EP Passing Through gives a first glimpse towards the song material he has been working on for the past three years.

The first composition The Tumult Of My Heart beautifully builds upon the familiar sounds of The End Of Suffering, with a big generated sound that shows elegant calmness and openness in structures. Beating with plenty of mood swings and passing through trusty values of driving drums and roaring bass, there's still a tangible hint of Yes present. But the overall atmosphere I sense is mostly that of Rush, also in light of the song's melodic approach and the vocal resemblance with Geddy Lee.

As if having read my mind and review, Jones in The Ghost Amongst Us strongly ups his vocal game and delivers a strong, melodically emotive, performance with some delightful high notes. Other noteworthy highs are the various delicately construed Post-rock transitions that provide serene moments of reflection, the composition's natural flow that at times brings Under The Sun to mind, and the spirited guitar solo that magnificently elevates atmospheres into those of enticing Rush. I secretly have the feeling that on the finalised album this outstanding song will feature a lengthier ending part, but this may also just be wishful thinking on my part.

Fully delivering on his promise for Passing Through to express a wider palette of sounds, the fierce This Sickness finally brings aggressive anger with bombastic heaviness of Porcupine Tree surrounded by groovy prog-metal of Dream Theater, injected with a healthy dose of animated Rush. Musically, vocally and production wise everything perfectly fits within this blasting song, and it may well be my favourite Orion track already.

Also available in extended form for an instrumental (near) double-the-fun experience, this EP works brilliantly as an appetiser to whet one's hunger for Orion's upcoming album Human Nature. Based on these three compositions it could well be the first year contender of 2024 has announced itself.

All in all, if you're interested in highly entertaining well-crafted progressive rock, and by chance enjoyed The End Of Suffering, then do yourself a great pleasure and check out this highly recommendable EP!

Album Reviews