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Nick Magnus - Inhaling Green CD (album) cover


Nick Magnus


Symphonic Prog

3.59 | 18 ratings

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4 stars As the keyboard player through most of the low and high points of STEVE HACKETT's first 2 decades of solo recording, Nick Magnus could only have been influenced by Hackett's approach and sensibility, but one should not underestimate his own influence on Hackett. Overall, the former GENESIS guitarist endorses the ensemble approach to progressive rock, and he has never skimped on orchestration and keyboard accompaniment to his guitar centric orientation. Here on "Inhaling Green", Magnus plays almost all instruments and yet the overall feel is that of a keyboard oriented prog band; the only guitar credit is for Geoff Whitehorn on the mammoth title cut, but I hear at least the approximations of a guitar elsewhere. The addition of JOHN HACKETT on flute helps reinforce the integrity of the familial relationship, and sensitively colors a couple of these pieces, allowing one to be more forgiving about the exclusively programmed rhythms.

While "Inhaling Green" bears some similarities to some of MIKE OLDFIELD's work, Magnus seems reluctant to steal the show from himself, and generally opts for understatement. This lack of showboating can raise other concerns in the prog realm, and at times he does tread close to new age territory, but generally succeeds in establishing a balance between airy melodies and open displays of instrumental prowess. In lesser hands the result might have been much diminished.

It's hard to pick out a highlight or two as the album maintains a consistently high standard as well as an appealing sequence of arrangements. "Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" features a sparkling melody and arrangement. I do enjoy "Cantus" with its medieval chants by Clare Brigstocke, and "Veil of Sighs" does bring me back to "Voyage of the Acolyte" days, but its brevity assures none of the somnolence of that long ago release. "Dixon Hill" would barely rate a mention but it just fits so well here, being a jazzy horn driven piece that offsets the generally pastoral mood elsewhere. The lengthy title track seems to be Magnus' response to ENIGMA and the like. After an elongated highly orchestral opening salvo, the programmed beats and female wails backstop whispered spoken verses, some of them which recommend the consumption of inedibles - is this a commentary on the health food movement? - before a brilliant guitar interlude by Geoff Whitehorn, manic yet restrained. Later, a repeated bombastic refrain recalls the glory of "Spectral Mornings".

While there may not be much new here, "Inhaling Green" nonetheless represents a breath of fresh air from one of progressive rock's upperclassmen.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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