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Days Between Stations - In Extremis CD (album) cover

IN EXTREMIS

Days Between Stations

 

Eclectic Prog

4.07 | 257 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars "Featuring
Peter Banks, Tony Levin,
Colin Moulding (XTC),
Billy Sherwood,
and Rick Wakeman" is definitely enough to pique anyone's curiosity--and I'm glad it did cuz within In Extremis are some real gems for songs. While DAYS WITHOUT STATIONS are officially made up of Oscar Fuentes Bills and Sepand Samzadeh, and the contributions of the above artists--especially Levin, Sherwood and Banks--are worthy of superlatives, it is truly the core of Bills and Samzadeh that deserve the greatest praise here.

1. No Cause for Alarm (Overture) (3:51) opens the album with some appropriate bombast (especially considering the lineup). However, in my opinion, it is the orchestral work that steals the show on this instrumental. The bass, drums, and rhythm guitar work are a bit too choppy and disintegrated--as if the players are reading their parts from song sheets from two or three totally different songs. It is the keyboard work and orchestration that make this interesting and keep it flowing and coherent. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to call the drum contributions here a total negative?they are quite distracting. (7/10)

2. "In Utero" (5:10) is basically a soundtrack piece that uses synths and orchestral instruments as a set up and support for one long and totally awesome electric guitar solo. Love the muted trumpet "background" play. (9/10)

3. "Visionary" (10:40) is the album's first epic and one heck of a song. Here we are treated to some amazing drumming, awesome lead and harmonized vocals, incredible melodies, brilliantly cohesive band play, and awesome solos. The synth solos in the third and fourth minutes are gorgeous--though it is the bass and drums to which I am constantly drawn to pay attention. Around the five minute mark the chorus melody is getting a bit repetitive and boring, but we are, fortunately saved by another foray into solo world. The next section of vocals (harmonized and then multiple vocal lines woven together) is brilliant, beautiful--all the while an awesome lead guitar is soloing in the background! Intense! Then at 7:10 everything drops out to leave a vascillating synth wash decaying away until a pretty arpeggiated piano begins a chord sequence to support a banjo/dobro-like instrument's solo. This is pretty much prog heaven! (10/10)

4. "Blackfoot" (10:05) is an instrumental that begins with slow, rhythmic, dramatic piano play. The piano is then joined by lead guitar and bass and drums in an equally dramatic, equally powerful fashion. Basically the song is one long set up for some rather extraordinary soloing--first by the lead guitarist (though the supporting drum play is certainly quite impressive as well) to the four minute mark, at which point there is an ominous shift in power to bass play (on Chapman Stick) and a fuzz guitar lead. The drums continue to impress me so much! At 5:30 a very easy going piano solo is given space (and us some breathing room) before some awesome synth soloing begins in the beginning of the seventh minute. At 8:10 a slide guitar screams to the fore letting loose on one heck of a solo--goose bumps galore! This is simply one astounding, perfect prog epic--despite being an instrumental. (10/10)

5. "The Man Who Died Two Times" (4:11) is a song in which I find the singing, pace and melody awkward and, to me, too poppy--especially considering its subject matter. It almost sounds like a weak (or tongue-in-cheek) ASIA imitation. (6/10)

6. "Waltz in E Minor (Dedicated to Peter Banks)" (2:06) is a classical piece composed for and performed by some chamber strings. Nice piece. (8/10)

7. "Eggshell Man" (11:58) is a pretty good song with lots of pleasurable sounds, instruments, and themes which, unfortunately, fail to congeal and flow into a cohesive whole and fail to draw me in very deeply. The first 4 minutes actually feel exactly as if they came from a BIG BIG TRAIN song from any of that band's past four albums. The fifth minute is also quite like BBT except for the drums. But this is no BBT facsimile, as evidenced by the sitar in the sixth minute, the organ in the seventh minute, the Russian-like speeding-to-crescendo section in the ninth minute, and then the crashing drums, Russian folk guitar strumming and big synth solo in the tenth minute. (8/10)

8. "In Extremis" (21:03 ) begins almost like a MIKE OLDFIELD piece--"Incantations" or "Hergest Ridge." When the vocals eventually join the music it begins to take on a BIG BIG TRAIN/PINK FLOYD feel--which is only exaggerated when the solo guitar takes over in the eighth minute. The organ-held lull at 8:25 is effective as breathing space after that crescendo of percussives and electric guitar. By 9:30 the song has leveled off and a nice vocal section leads us slowly into a long instrumental section in which keyboards and dueling guitars are blaring away at the highest caliber of emotion and melody--for five and a half minutes! The final three minutes are made a bit bombastic by the domineering drum play/sound but it also contains some outstanding weaving of melody lines from both the instrumentation and the voices--including some great vocal harmonizing. (9/10)

Despite some average songs or parts of songs, the highs of this album are among the best stuff I've heard this year--"In Utero," "In Extremis," and, especially, the 10-minute 'twins': "Visionary" and "Blackfoot."

A very solid 4 stars: truly an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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