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Balloon Astronomy - Balloon Astronomy CD (album) cover


Balloon Astronomy



3.94 | 44 ratings

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5 stars I recently discovered this band thanks to the "Related Artists" function in Spotify and was attracted by the cover so I gave it a listen. I'm very thankful I did as it led me to one of the best albums in recent prog history (even though I was a bit late in discovering it).

Balloon Astronomy are a US duo consisting of Jim Ledger on vocals, bass and guitar and Glenn Little on keyboards and flute. The album also features the talents of Mike Keneally on guitar and Nick D'Virgilio on drums among others.

The short piano intro of "Crows in the Field" takes us into the throbbing keyboard intro of "Even Odds". Not a million miles away from Spocks Beard, this is obviously very well played and melodic modern prog. Distinctive and excellent vocals, instruments well played but this is not flashy technical music. This will appeal to anyone who likes the melodic end of the prog scale.

Next up is "Roots Run Deep", possibly the best track on the album with a memorable chorus ("you and I drifting down the bayou") and some subtle acoustic guitar work.

"The Odyssey" starts off with a deep hum and some mysteriously distorted vocals before breaking into the main song. Again no flashy instrumentals, just an understated acoustic guitar solo.

"Gentle Day" is a short instrumental, leading into "Sourness of Days" which features some excellent bass work.

"By the Strange Water's Edge" is another instrumental which leads into a chiming keyboard riff, reminiscent to these ears of sections of Mike Oldfield's "Incantations" album and also features some lovely piano and clarinet work. The latter is (presumably) by Max Werner of Kayak.

"Eagle" features what sounds very much like a Mellotron, which leads us to...

"Sigmoid Fletcher" is the song that really caught my ear on the first listen and is possibly the only prog song inspired by the name of a section of the lower bowel (Google it). It features an insanely catchy chorus which will worm it's way into your head on the first couple of plays. Sigmoid is perhaps an estranged relation of Harold The Barrel. Along with Big Big Train's "Uncle Jack" this song proves that prog bands can write short, melodic songs that could be played on the radio and appeal to the masses. I love the way the chorus at the end gradually introduces the crowd backing vocals.

"One Summer", "For Jackie" and "Summer Afternoon" form the "Summer Suite" of songs which end the album, the last two being instrumentals. "One Summer" is the heart-breaking story of the death of a child (presumably Jackie?) which I hope isn't based on fact, It's a very powerful lyric despite the depressing subject and is quite an ending to this wonderful album.

Overall this album should appeal to fans of bands like Spocks Beard and Echolyn and I can't recommend it highly enough. The band are apparently working on a new album and I for one cannot wait. 5 stars all the way, one of my favourite prog albums of the last 10 years already.

chopper | 5/5 |


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