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Fish - Sunsets On Empire CD (album) cover





3.80 | 210 ratings

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4 stars When I read "Marillion - Separated Out" book by Jon Collins, one of the great stories was the one written at page 13 by Steven Wilson (then 11 years old) about his first experience watching punk band The Chiltren Volcanoes at Berkhamstead Civic Center who did opening act for a band called "Marilyn" (sic). By the time the band called Marillion got into the stage there were only 25 people left because all the punk rockers already gone. Two years later Steven heard the band on Tommy Vance Radio 1 session when he was amazed about the band and followed them since then. And . decades later he assisted the band's ex front-man Fish producing this "Sunsets On Empire" album. I can imagine how big the generation gap is. And.. this is a very good album by Fish.

The Perception of Johnny Punter (8:37) is of course the best song from this album. It's got everything that I expect from Fish during his Marillion years: low register voice notes with strong accentuation and emotions followed with higher notes in his energetic style, mumbling and narratives in the middle of the song and powerful breaks. Well, that is actually something to do with composition. Yeah, the composition is very strong especially with Steven Wilson's hand in songwriting as well as production. The flow of the song is really wonderful. It starts with soft riffs by Steven Wilson with his unique guitar playing style followed by energetic low register notes by Fish which opens the song beautifully: "Just another wake up, a hostage of sunrise, .". Wow! What a great opening vocal line that reminds me to the legendary and memorable phrase of "So here I am once more! In a playground of a brokenheart ." from marillion's Script for A Jester's Tear album. My adrenalin runs at double speed when drums by Dave Stewart enters energetically which provides great atmosphere for guitar riffs to enter the scene. Oh man . I do not believe that Fish was finally able to make such a great song like this one. The guitar solo part (starts at approx min 3:18 until 5:00 - close to 2 minutes of solo!) is also powerful and memorable. I usually play this song LOUD to get subtleties of the music. It's very enjoyable track. It's killing!

I salute Steven Wilson's virtuosity in soundscape and production that make this opening track is so attractive and enjoyable/ It's one of best songs that Fish have ever produced. As I mentioned early that one of great things that I like about Fish vocal line is when he performs "mumbling" and "narrating" in the middle of the track. In this opening track he also does narrative at approx minute 5:10. Wow! It's so powerful hearing again the voice of Fish in narrative mode like he did in "Misplaced Childhood" album with Marillion. I like when he mentions with powerful low register notes ".when the dogs don't bark". Yeeeaaahhh!!! Fish rules man!!!!! This song ends with great joy and enlightenment that makes my day when I enjoy it very early in the morning. It's so catchy and memorable man!

"Goldfish & Clowns" (6:36) is a ballad song with good vocal of Fish. Again, he starts the first verse with powerful low register notes "There are vampires in the park Mawgojzeta .". The guitar fills that follow are also good. "Change Of Heart" (3:41) is another ballad with acoustic guitar by Robin Boult and Frank Usher. It's a good track but nothing special that I need to mention about this song.

What Colour Is God? (5:50) is another killer that I really love it very much. Fish and Wilson composed this song in upbeat energetic fashion and unusual to any Fish albums until this album was released. The intro part is truly killing me! It has a percussion exploration in the vein like our local Dang Dut music but with great instruments harmony of keyboard and howling guitar and loop samples. In a way the percussion work reminds me to the work of world music artists or Peter Gabriel's music. The howling guitar backed with long sustain keyboard work has created a great ambience of the music. Fish starts his first verse with powerful vocal line : "I was thinking about thinking, about thinking, about thinking I was thinking" is very atmospheric, catchy and memorable! Not only that, the music that accompanies him singing is really brilliant! Of course, I give this great song with a masterpiece rating. The song has successfully combined groovy style, rock and ambient music beautifully.

"Tara" (5:12) is a very personal song for Fish, dedicated for his daughter Tara. The music is quite simple and straight forward but the flow of the music is nice especially with cello and piano accompanying the music. Lyrically, it's about how a dad is longing for his daughter who stays in a distance and requires a flight to meet. "We'll see each other in the morning, when the sun comes up.".

"Jungle Ride" (7:34) starts with acoustic guitar rhythm and Fish narrative or mumbling style augmented nicely with percussion work. This song was written with Robin Boult. Again, this is a good presentation pf Fish singing and narrative style. "Worm In A Bottle" (6:24) is a song built around drum beats augmented with some nice howling guitar work as well as fills. It's also written with Robin Boult. Frank Usher plays his guitar excellently. You can also enjoy Ewen Vernal bass guitar work clearly here with this track.

"Brother 52" (6:03) is another song that orients around beats and it has a sort of disco style. It has all the energy and dynamics of funky and rock music. It starts wonderfully with piano work followed with telephone receiving conversation between Fish and his brother (?) Doug. Steven Wilson co wrote this song with Fish and provides guitar rhythm section. The cello solo in the middle of the track accompanying Fish narrative is really stunning. "Sunsets On Empire" (6:54) is a sad and dark (?) song about having to end a relationship. It's I think very personal to Fish. As I reckoned the days when Fish with Marillion, most of his great lyrics were invented when he was in miserable condition. This song seems like he experienced the same painful experience, looking at the lyrics. Musically, it's another excellent composition with some bluesy elements. The guitar work is also interesting. The album concludes with a mellow track "Say It With Flowers" (4:15) - it's a good ballad.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. The collaboration with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree has made the album is interesting to enjoy especially with Wilson's skills and virtuosities in making great sounds. The ony concern that I have in terms of sound is the fact that this album has lesser bass than most of Porcupine Tree album. I don't know what is the reason on this - it's probably Fish wanted it like this way. It would be better if it's produced with the same quality like Porcupine Tree "Comma Divine" or "Stupid Dream" albums. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |


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