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Advent - Cantus Firmus CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.42 | 65 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Well first off, Spock’s Beard could take a few lessons from these guys in how to actually pull off an harmonized a cappella piece of music. Advent does this quite effectively on “GK Contramundum” and doesn’t come off sounding like a half-lit barbershop quartet, something Spock’s Beard always reminded me of.

That aside, this is a tasteful album that shows undeniable Gentle Giant influences in the soft, flowing passages and especially the laid-back drum work. I get the impression most of these guys are probably classically trained, as the arrangements seem to avoid typical rock compositions in favor of rather intricate and beautiful passages. “Awaiting the Call…” sounds more like something from the late eighties than 2006, and reminds me quite a bit of bands like Group 87 and Happy the Man.

“Parenting Parents” on the other hand is rich with mellow vocals and an almost lullaby tempo, building very slowly with lush keyboards and mandolin but never quite climaxing, and finally just fading away. Good for quiet evenings I suppose, but perhaps just a bit too languid for most people’s tastes. “Utter Once Her Name” consists mostly of electric piano and again the quiet vocals. At times the song almost fades out completely, brought back to life with strumming acoustic guitar and almost imperceptible flute (or maybe recorder).

“Remembering When” is another soft instrumental with acoustic guitar and lazy keyboards, but there’s a persistent thread of electric guitar that keeps threatening to take off, but never does.

The climax of the album is probably the eighteen minute “Ramblin’ Sailor”, a jaunty flute and keyboard sea tale with vocals that lean a bit toward some of the early Moody Blues albums. This is a spry piece of music that lacks much substance, but has some really nicely done vocal harmonies and probably tells a tale of some sort, but I can’t really be bothered to read the lyrics and find out what it’s all about. This is followed up by “Your Healing Hand”, which I gather is some sort of hymn, kind of sounds like something you’d hear in a Lutheran prayer service. Nicely done, but not all that accessible for most people I would think.

“Firmus Finale” opens like some sort of sci-fi soundtrack, and like “Awaiting the Call…” sounds like something that was stuck in a time capsule for a decade or so before being dusted off and committed to tape. “Rear View Window” is another bit of relaxed vocals and sparse keyboards, but not much else. This one is kind of a throwaway.

The closing “Alison Waits (A Ghost Story)” starts quite slowly, but manages to build around the middle with some pretty decent guitar, but otherwise seems to drag on several minutes too long and kind of loses its appeal around the five minute mark or so.

I don’t know much about these guys, but I will say that they are all top-notch musicians, and this is undoubtedly a progressive, perhaps even symphonic album. This would probably appeal to most Gentle Giant fans, and indeed these guys have done a couple of Gentle Giant tribute recordings as well, so their appeal to that audience is almost assured. Maybe some Camel fans as well, as the tempo on most of the tracks calls to mind some of the first recordings by that band. But overall I wouldn’t rank this as exceptional by any means, although it certainly qualifies as pretty decent. So three stars it is, and back to the middle of the pile for an occasional listen on rainy spring evenings.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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