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Drifting Sun - On The Rebound CD (album) cover

ON THE REBOUND

Drifting Sun

 

Neo-Prog

3.94 | 44 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Drifting Sun's latest opus "Asylum" was a shockingly delirious surprise, certainly taking my ears by storm and rendering them gaga, as my drippy review clearly denounced. Easily one of the 'Grand Crus' of 2016 and a perennial future mainstay in my rotation. Keyboardist and leader Pat Sanders decided to seize on all the hoopla to remaster and release their 1998 opus "On the Rebound", invigorating it with sharper production and wider sonic depth. Obviously 18 years have passed, so the quality of the song writing must (and does) stand the test of time, with the added benefit of a fresh coat of sonic paint and modern veneer. Evidently , the material here is first rate and should have been better received but alas, was not!

"The Charade" spans 13 minutes and is spearheaded by an eloquent piano ride, demonstrating that Pat is a highly gifted keyboardist , ably supported by a muscular guitarist in John Spearman , a wild Fishy vocalist in American Chris Martini as well as a tough drummer in Tobin Bryant. Pat's long ?time associate and French compatriot Manu Sibona handles the low end with overt influence and power. This is primo neo-prog of the finest vintage, as tasty if not more so than all the usual suspects (IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Marillion etc?), expertly delivered, passionately rendered and seared by some strong dramatics.

The heavier disposed "Swan Song" packs quite a punch, as the piece is organ boosted and guitar molested, playfully symphonic (those celestial harpsichord patches I adore) when needed , rock 'n roll when push comes to shove , Spearman peeling off a few frenzied twisters on the fret board, as the rhythm section thunders onward. Martini sings perfectly, no hint of a Yankee accent, actually incorporating some shrieking tendencies that would easily grace a metal album, the man can screech! Ebb and flow, gentle and serene one moment and then explosive the next, no boring 'walk in the park' affliction here.

"Drifting Sun" is the name of the band and the title of the track, anthemic at first, a 'paradise of the soul', Martini doing a great moaning job on the microphone, a very difficult task not to sound kitsch, so kudos to you, man! Again the piano is the dominating force here, which is why this band rises above the rest, I have noticed that high quality neo is really dependent on a gifted ivory tickler. The energetic vocal inflections are constantly on the edge, a pleasant surprise and a constant guarantor of avid audience acquiescence. Thrilling, pulpy, juicy and abundant, this is top-notch material, not really accessible as there is a lot of dizzying instrumental gyrations, keeping the sonic sword skilfully honed.

The sun has gone down for a brief rest and the "Long Nights" has graced the stage, another extended piece that proposes nocturnal fantasies in a mistier setting, pervading fog rolling over the pavement, spooky shadows and eerie mutterings, 'too much confusion' wails the trembling Martini, as the mood continues its Halloween waltz. There is almost a British-tinged Ange groove here, theatrics drenched in schizophrenia, where demented vocals, a lilting cemetery beat and a sense of unease suffuses and infiltrates the curious mind. The instrumental adornments are all unbelievably adept and creative, Spearman's lunacy-ridden solo as prime example! I mean wow! Stunning track.

Spiraling aimlessly into the cosmos after such a catapult of sound and emotion, the Drifting Sun spaceship reaches "Heaven's Eyes", a shorter ballad of exquisite polish and reflection, again adorned by grandiose piano manipulations that exalt beauty, as paralleled by Martini's anguished vocals. Precious and then ferocious, the passion plays out fully. Beautiful, just plain beautiful. Tears can easily emanate from those eyes!

Two 10 minute slices finish off this entertaining disc, the first , "Minstrel" reverts immediately to proggier realms, an opening of oddly echoing choir work setting the tone for a rather conspicuously diverse piece, the bass guitar rampaging with impunity, obese and obedient, dragging the pace as well as the others. The arrangement engages a new direction at will, the ornate piano being again the motivator for change and altered direction. Martini is hysteric, higher-pitched and melodramatically inclined, just to keep things boiling. The electric guitar squeals when prompted but well within certain linear perspectives. A medieval-tinged outro does wonders for the soul, as the wind blows mercilessly and the bell tolls.

Throw away that mask, show your real face will you? Identify yourself, sire! Very well, scoundrels! "Mon Masque" has fallen to the ground, revealing a bruising bass that sets up a groove that veers in all directions, extremely contorted and luxuriant. Then a few French words just to upset the cart and further confuse, glittering prize of robust rumble, eerie organ flutters and clanging guitars. Again a slight Ange feel that is utterly delightful. The axe solo is stalked by a synth foray, nothing overly complex but definitely agitated and nervy. As per "Safe Asylum", the piano is the major highlight, don't get me wrong, all the other players are exquisite in their own right but the emotional impact of that mythical instrument is prominently displayed on all tracks and acts as a definite reference point. Great slice of their career and meritorious of further investigation and ultimate purchase.

4.5 slippery orbs

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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