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Nick Magnus - N'monix CD (album) cover

N'MONIX

Nick Magnus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.44 | 43 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Four years after the truly excellent, and one I still play with some regularity, Children Of Another God, former Enid and Steve Hackett Band alumni Nick Magnus makes a welcome return to our aural senses with this thoroughly enjoyable, and intelligent, album.

The inner sleeve has a definition of mnemonic as a system or device for aiding memory. Much of what you hear and read is truly memorable, as well.

Magnus and his keyboards are at the heart of everything in this album, and parts of opener, Time, are almost industrial in parts, certainly not particularly typical of what one might have expected, but the surprise is welcome. Contrast this with album closer, Entropy, in which his keys bring a mysterious sense of warmth as they lead a track which is Celtic in its heart, and brings all of the thoughtful lyrics of the work (aiding memory) full circle.

In the predecessor album, there was a gorgeous track called The Others featuring the beautiful, almost operatic, vocals of Linda John-Pierre. Well, on N'Monix, he has gone one further, with Memory, the sister of time, by including the most gorgeous aria sung by Kate Faber, a soprano with the most incredible voice. This is the utter highlight of the album to me, a track which celebrates and fuses all that is best about traditional symphonic prog with its classical inspiration. Truly beautiful, and worth the price of admission alone.

What remains is a fascinating mix of the modern, traditional, pastoral, and clever all in one new package. Kombat Kid is a knowing nod for those of us with boys who love console games, but framed marvellously cleverly as a historical paradox of Richard III, whose remains were recently exhumed. Tony Patterson's vocals are sumptuous and extremely knowing.

Headcase ends the first side of the album (as would have been in days of yore), before, in Eminent Victorians, we hear the first appearance of three by Steve Hackett, once again lending his old friend a hand. This is, on this track more than any other, extremely appropriate, because this is the first of a side of music I think could quite easily have fitted alongside classic Genesis of circa 1971 Nursery Cryme vintage. You know, that marvellously quirky and eccentric pastoral English to its core rock. The vocals provided by another old Hackett collaborator, Pete Hicks, simply add to the atmosphere created, this in addition to those trademark Hackett licks working in tandem with Nick's keys so reminiscent of that period.

Talking of Hackett licks, just listen to his incredible solo work on the short instrumental, Shadowland, which combines this with the feel of Memory to provide us with an almost Gothic hymn of remembrance. Quite stunning, really.

This joy, though, itself pales into comparison with Broken, the longest track on the album, clocking in at just over eight minutes long. Steven Wilson collaborator Tim Bowness contributes a delicate and thoughtful vocal to a track, with flute, soprano sax, arpeggio guitar, and a wall of keyboards simply taking one on a magical life journey, told through said instruments and children's nursery rhymes, and this is key, because, through all the joy, this is, essentially, a dark track designed to make one reflect upon events of one's past. A huge clap, then, to a wonderful lyricist, Dick Foster.

This is a memorable album, and comes thoroughly recommended to anyone who enjoys that feeling of listening to an album which brings the feel of a classic period right into the modern era with aplomb, thought, production, and warmth. An album which demands attention, and brings the rewards that such attention should provide.

Four stars, but would have the extra half star if we had such a rating on the site. Yet another album which will stay with me and on my playlist for years to come, and proof positive that 2014 continues to develop into a vintage year for exceptional intelligent progressive rock.

lazland | 4/5 |

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