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Milo Black - Ringworld (Part One) CD (album) cover


Milo Black


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.05 | 2 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars In 2003, Milo Black released its most ambitious effort to date, Ringworld (Part One), inspired by the novel by science fiction writer Larry Niven. Recording for the project began in 1998 and took about six years to complete. The end result was two very long tracks timing in at 22:11 and 19:49 and containing a total of eleven parts. The music does not attempt to tell Larry Niven's famous novel, but was intended to be Miles Walsh's soundtrack for his own mental movie version of Ringworld.

Act One starts off with three instrumental pieces, Blind Spot, Insystem, and Arrival. It begins with the sounds of a heartbeat and lush synths, eventually leading into some Floydian-inspired guitar work. It then kicks into a fast-paced, Ozric Tentacles-inspired piece. The fourth part is Louis Wu with vocals by guest singer Duane Tate. Tate delivers Ray Thomas-inspired vocals giving this piece a strong Moody Blues feel to it. This then leads into an atmospheric interlude called Sonic Fold followed by Flycycle, another nicely done instrumental. This is then followed by another instrumental section called The Arch which is filled with lush synthesizers and is reminiscent of Vangelis. This track previously appeared on another Milo Black compilation called Multicoloured Sounds, Vol. 2 in 2001. The final part of Act One is another instrumental called Teela Brown, which carries strong Genesis influences and again has some beautiful lush synths throughout it.

Act Two is an all instrumental three-part piece. It begins with Speaker to Animals. Again some wonderfully beautiful lush synths fill this piece with some powerful guitar work and a machine-like driving rhythm. It's very comparable to maybe Vangelis meets David Gilmour, if you can imagine that (that would have been an interesting duo by the way). This leads into an eerie, spacey instrumental called Dream Castle. This was a collaborative piece between Miles Walsh and Ken Robinson. The eerie background soundscapes are reminiscent of Robinson's Superluminal Pachyderm project. This leads into a fast-paced piece called The Tower Called Heaven with some beautiful guitar work.

The final piece on this album is a bonus track called Flowers and Lace. It's basically The Arch instrumental with Janet Murphy singing over it. I personally prefer the instrumental and think the vocals sort of mess up its beautiful simplicity and don't seem to fit very well. Besides, the recording of the vocals contain static in them, either from a poor recording or bad mp3 compression (my guesses). It really adds nothing to the whole album.

One thing I noticed most about this album is that Miles Walsh's production and recording have improved considerably since the material he recorded in the 1980s and 1990s. He still has issues with background hiss. Walsh still uses programmed drums, but his skill at using them has improved to the point that it isn't a noticeable distraction. The compositions are extremely well-written, although at times I had hoped for more vocal parts. Walsh did not contribute any of his own vocals to this, and although his singing is far from perfect, it seems to suit his style very well and is somewhat similar to Steven Wilson's vocal delivery. Another thing I noticed was that this album was saturated with lush synthesizers. I love lush synthesizers, but at a sacrifice, Walsh's guitar work was less prevalent than on previous works. He is an exceptional guitarist and a few more of his soaring guitar solos would have given this album more punch.

Ringworld (Part One) was supposed to be the first of a two-part set. As of February 2008, it isn't known if a Ringworld (Part Two) was recorded or will ever be recorded. It would be nice to find out someday as I would eagerly look forward to hearing it.

I still don't think this is as good as Milo Black's BlackTracking compilation, but I admire the concept and amount of work Walsh put into this. It's better than his debut The Tail of Oskar the Fish, but overall four stars seems like a fair rating. An excellent gem from a mostly unknown independent artist.

progaeopteryx | 4/5 |


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