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BunChakeze - Whose Dream? CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.78 | 130 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sometimes you read about a lost gem from a past decade. This album would indeed be a lost gem but as I understand it, it was never released until 2010. So if it was never taken out into public, I guess it was never lost. Just carefully stowed away until the time was right to let it flash in the sunlight.

BunChakeze formed out of the ashes of Odin of London (recorded material from the early eighties also released a few years ago and available for download). Featuring Colin Tench (guitars, keyboards), who is known more now for his work in Corvus Stone, Gary Derrick (bass), and Cliff Deighton (drums), BunChakeze (Bunch a Keys) decided to record a progressively flavoured album in a time when "prog" was considered a dirty word in older circles and not even known as a word in younger ones. With no money, the three lads managed to snag a deal with a studio that wasn't built yet: essentially, help build the studio and you get to record in it. The entire story of the band's progress is recorded most humorously in the CD booklet. With vocalist Joey Lugassy safely locked inside the studio, the band laid down its tracks.

The opening instrumental, named after the band, is a quick-paced, busy number that reminds me a little of Yezda Urfa, an American band whose music suffered a similar fate (recorded in 1976, released in 1989). A brilliant number and one that truly stands out for 1985, it is complete in its compactness but nevertheless it seems unfortunate that it wraps up in under two minutes.

Except for the final track, the rest are all songs with Lugassy's vocals. Much of the music reminds me of Genesis or Pink Floyd in parts without sounding exactly like either. I expected that there would be an eighties feel to the album but there is only just. That horrendous snare echo that can be heard on so many mid-eighties albums is not present here. It feels more like the band knew that they wanted to capture that prog sound from around '76 to '78 and stop just shy of an eighties' production sound.

Lugassy's vocals are warm and hit the notes just right. But sometimes it seems like he's holding back. Perhaps it was the studio, or perhaps because he wasn't an official member of the band but was asked to be the vocalist, I don't know. I get the impression that if the moment called for it, he could really let rip. Perhaps it's to his credit as a professional that he restrained himself in order to suit the music of BunChakeze.

A couple of my favourite songs are "Phoenix" and "Long-distance Runner". Both stretch out a little more and one can infer some of the Genesis / Pink Floyd influences with the latter also having a strong Yes-sounding opening. I can almost hear Jon Anderson's voice come in. The music gets a little close to metal near the end of "Phoenix" but basically sticks to "A Trick of the Tail" Genesis range sensibility without the theatrical and classical inclinations of early seventies Genesis. Perhaps there's more of an early Marillion feel here and there. Tench makes use of a wide range of guitar sounds and playing techniques and there are some tasteful synthesizer and pretty piano passages as well. One is surely to make the Pink Floyd connection with that "Brick in the Wall" guitar playing on "The Deal", which ends with a synthesizer part reminiscent of "Welcome to the Machine".

If there is a weaker point on the album then for me it is the track "Midnight Skies", which is about the white man's takeover of the Americas, or more precisely what is now the United States of America. I feel the message in the lyrics takes precedence over the song itself and as such I don't find the music or melody very captivating. However, the rest of the album is so well done that I feel it deserves a strong rating.

The final track, "Whose Dream? (reprise)", doesn't bear much resemblance to the original track. It's a short, upbeat instrumental with a classic prog feel that has me thinking of Gryphon or Yezda Urfa once again. The ending has almost a hint of Deep Purple or Ritchie Blackmore, a suggestion of things to come with Corvus Stone?

If there's anything missing from this album it's a full-on 5-6 minute instrumental. These guys proved that they could make exciting and engaging music in a time when it was considered passť. Record company interest, the lack of it, proved that BunChakeze were out of date for the general public. Thankfully, we can now listen to this audio gem that was never lost, but rather just never properly shared until 2010.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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