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Colin Tench Project - Hair In A G-String (Unfinished But Sweet) CD (album) cover


Colin Tench Project


Crossover Prog

4.07 | 260 ratings

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5 stars There comes a time when, after so many terrific albums worthy or four and even five star ratings, an album comes along that totally blows my pants off and I wish there was a special once-a-year-use-only six star option. I've been following the creation of this album for about a year now ever since I discovered a collection of demos called CTP on Melodic Revolution Records' web site and traced them to Mr. Colin Tench, guitarist of Corvus Stone. What was this CTP thing? Caribbean Turtle Poachers? Canadian Timber Products? Custard Treacle Pudding? Cornish Toilet Paper? When asked directly, Mr. Tench only replied with, 'Can't tell people.'

For those who don't know, Colin Tench did not take up the guitar until he was 22. He played in a few bands and even recorded with two of them, Odin of London and BunChakeze, during the 80's. Then he quit and left to travel the world. Twenty-five years later, a certain Pasi Koivu of Finland who plays keyboards encouraged Colin to release his old recordings and asked if he would play guitar for a piece of music he'd written. Thus was it that Corvus Stone first began. Around those formative years of 2011/12, not only did Corvus Stone release their debut album (with bassist Petri Lindström and drummer Robert Wolff) but Colin also was asked to play lead guitar for Blake Carpenter's band The Minstrel's Ghost and Andy John Bradford's Oceans 5. In the last year or two, Colin has called both Corvus Stone and BunChakeze home; however he plays all the lead guitar on Steve Gresswell's latest Coalition album 'Bridge Across Time' (releases October 7th) and makes guest appearances on many albums, including Murky Red's 'No Hocus Without Pocus', KariBow's 'Holophinium', Marco Ragni's 'Land of Blue Echoes' and Grandval's 'A Ciel Ouvert'. But all this past year, CTP has been his main focus.

Originally a bunch of demos that began with a composition entitled, 'Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Screwed', the project began to take shape as additional musicians jumped on board. I say so because I've heard that no one was hired or paid; all wished to be part of this. Following the Corvus Stone Facebook page, I read as Oliver Rüsing of KariBow came on to play drums and percussion; Steve Gresswell played keyboards and arranged orchestration; Victor Tassone of Unified Past provided more drumming, and then Jay Theodore McGurrin former drummer of the Jimmy Van Zant band; Angelo Hulshout of the ISKC Rock Radio's Angelo's Rock Orphanage was invited to play fretless bass; Phil Naro of Unified Past, DDrive and Druckfarben who has also appeared on Corvus Stone albums added his vocals; and of course, Petri Lindström, also of Progeland and Saturn Twilight and who also just released a digital album of original songs in tribute to Black Sabbath, plays bass on much of the album. But two of the players to have the biggest impact on the sound of the album were to be Gordon Bennett, an excellent guitarist himself and master of GorMusik and his digital album 'Fun In Outer Space' (new album on the way) and who did most of the orchestral arrangement for CTP, and the one and only Peter Jones of Tiger Moth Tales and Red Bazar. Gordon's orchestral arrangements, along with Steve Gresswell's, make this album stand apart from anything Colin ever did on Corvus Stone. And Peter's vocals, saxophone, and clarinet give this album something so unique, especially his vocals. Peter is not only an excellent singer but quite a voice actor in n this album!

The album, to be released digitally on September 30th and as a CD in November, was, to my great privilege, offered to me a few days ago, and in spite of the fact that I had seven new discs to check out and a list of albums to review, I've had CTP playing most of the time and I've not only heard the entire album four times but several tracks have received anywhere from six to over a dozen replays. This album is a one-of-a-kind incredible collection of music!

'Hair in a G-String (Unfinished but Sweet)' is what a personal project should be. It's nearly all Colin's music and even lyrics on all but two songs, but everyone who joined had the one job of doing his absolute best and as a result there are multiple personalities contributing. The music can be simply divided into the four parts of the Hair in a G-String suite plus two additional tracks in G, 'The Sad Brazilian' and the first official album single 'And So Today', and the other tracks on the album which Colin says are more melodic rock. It's like a prog epic with interludes, he states.

The album begins like the beginning of a movie about fantasy, magic and times long gone. Part One softly introduces the album at first with orchestration, then is joined by acoustic guitar and piano as the music builds and changes and Peter Jones delivers the lyrics. There's a hint of whimsy and false gravity. His saxophone solo is wonderful. If you are not necessarily a fan of Corvus Stone then expect to find much more different material on this album, starting with this track! Part two features more orchestration and then a more aggressive section with a classic Iron Maiden-like guitar riff while a strummed acoustic seems to want to bust out a samba. With a clever bass bridge, the music unexpectedly turns Santana in Rio de Janeiro with some awesome percussion and a Latino beach flare. Colin's lead guitar makes the song rock out and sway while Phil Naro adds 'ba-ba-da-doo-ba' and 'dei-o' and the likes. It's party time! Part Three hits its high point with Peter Jones singing partly interpretive, partly absurd lyrics at one point in great Beatle- esque harmonies and then in classic Queen style. The music keeps shifting and hopping around so that you can't even guess what it's going to do next. And what it does is morph into a Pink Floydian conclusion with some backwards vocals by Peter. Brilliant! 'The Sad Brazilian' features only Colin, Petri and Gordon and stretches out into a mini symphonic epic.

The Peter Jones sung single 'And So Today' deserves special mention because it's such a remarkable and beautiful song about saying farewell to four of our recently lost music heroes. Though they are not named directly, the lyrics give hints about for whom each verse was written. One of my favourite lines is, 'Sir Raymond from the Abbey rode away.' Peter's delivery is impeccable and the third verse is sung so passionately that it almost brings a lump to my throat, especially since I know who he's singing about. Colin delivers a short but powerful solo and Peter plays clarinet a little to delightful effect.

Most of the rest of the album can be divided into four categories. There are two Phil Naro sung songs that are more mainstream but have very catchy melodies and some excellent melodic rock. Though some might consider them not necessary on an album of this nature, I find they are a welcome addition to an already varied collection. If you prefer the more challenging music then you can take solace in a rumour of a possible vinyl release of only the music in G. Then there are three acoustic guitar instrumentals, 'The Mad Yeti', which is my favourite, 'La Palo Desperado' with an unexpected ending, and the short but lovely 'Dnieper Summer Day'. Two variations of a Corvus Stone original appear here. These are part of the 'Lisa' series, and 'Lisa Waltzes Back in with No G-String' is basically and Colin and Gordon reworking of material previously recorded with Corvus Stone, Gordon adding a string section, horns and basses. 'Lisa's Entrance Unplugged' (yes, Colin makes these titles up himself) is acoustic guitar with flute by Ian Beabout, and the effect in one part has me imagining King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table kicking back and enjoying this. 'Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Screwed' is included of course but it's been reworked and expanded since the original demo and is in seven parts, adding two bits borrowed from old BunChakeze songs.

The whole musical majesty tour comes to an end with Part 4b which is an astonishing and immensely entertaining piece of work. For starters, Peter Jones and Phil Naro exchange comic lines about why the song can't be called Part 4b as well as some ad lib parts that are pretty darn funny. Hear Peter do death vocals and choke! And Phil is the first person I've heard say, 'Take off, eh?' on an album since Bob & Doug McKenzie's 1982 comedy album 'The Great White North' on which Geddy Lee guested! The music is so brilliant and once more unpredictable. The song delivers a monster dual guitar solo at the end that will have you doing air-guitarist leaps off your sofa and knocking things over as Gordon's strings lift the power of the music higher and higher. Only five days and already this has become my most listened to song of the year! I can't get tired of this!!!

The CD will end here with a short but silly Chipmunks and piano bit by Peter Jones. However, the digital album includes a bonus track that is entirely orchestral arrangements by Gordon Bennett. 'Lisa's Waltz' is like the music at the end of the film when the credits are going up and you are sitting still feeling the emotional rush of the movie and somehow, though you're not actually reading the credits, the music has you rooted to your seat and you know you can't leave until it's finished. What's also remarkable to me is that we've already cleared 80 minutes of music! I don't usually like long albums so much but this one was a pleasure cruise that ended before I knew we were back in port!

It doesn't matter what you enjoy in music, you must check out this album. If you don't like it, that's fine. But if you miss this entirely you might just be missing out on one of the most remarkable albums in the last few years.

So now you know: Convicted Transvestite Perverts? Confused Theologian Prognostication? Nope. Colin Tench Project.

September 30th, people! Be ready!

FragileKings | 5/5 |


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