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Aleph - Surface Tension CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.04 | 16 ratings

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4 stars Aleph's music is an attractive blend of obvious symphonic-prog influences and ambitions with an always-accessible pop-rock edge. You won't hear a lot of unusual time signatures or virtuosic showing off; and only once on this album will you hear an extended composition attempting (fairly successfully) a more symphonic structure ("Mountaineer"). What you will hear is a band with great senses of melody, arrangement, songcraft.

They're most of the time somewhere between Yes/Genesis and Supertramp. I think the Yes influences, where audible, are more overt - Joe Walmsley is clearly trying very hard to channel Jon Anderson (but badly - it's not a very attractive voice), there is a section in "Mountaineer" that very clearly sounds like the latter stages of "Siberian Khatru", and plenty of grand mellotron-laden choruses that take their cue from "Awaken" or "And You And I"; but the more I listened, the more I heard Genesis parallels - a very keyboard-driven approach (the piano particularly being the basis of most compositions), the guitar often taking a less prominent place in the mix (but occasionally stepping up for solos which more than a couple of times reminded me of Hackett), and much more of an emphasis on arrangement/orchestration that virtuosity for it's own sake.

"Mountaineer" is the most overtly proggy song. "Man Who Fell" (about Bowie) and "(You Never Were A) Dreamer" are the poppiest. "Morning" and 'Banshee" take a heavier approach within a standard song structure. "Heaven's Achaepelago", the closer, is an epic ballad, piano & mellotron-driven (did anyone else notice that the opening chords are the same as Traffic's "No Time To Live"?)

Not a lost masterpiece, but a very worthwhile album that any fan of 70s symphonic or crossover prog should enjoy. It's unfortunate that they didn't have the success they deserved.

sl75 | 4/5 |


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