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Cairo - Say CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.96 | 80 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars At the risk of repeating myself, one of the main attractions of prog is the proverbial hunt for the next elusive prey, diligently reconnoitering the vast global expanse for something that will shake the foundations and the pleasure nodes. With a little help from my friends (just like the Beatles /Joe Cocker classic), I get introduced to some new nugget, hidden and obscured by clouds of distance. Hints of potential comes with a recognizable name, here and there, to excite the senses and securing the decision to order. I was familiar with Rob Cottingham when he was steering Touchstone, a harder-edged prog band that got my attention, interestingly enough in the same manner, when I saw the name Henry Rogers on drums. This brilliant kitman has graced a slew of albums that blew me sideways (namely the recent Heather Findlay solo outing 'I Am Snow'). Touchstone released 4 studio albums, as well as a live one and disbanded a few years ago. I am happy to announce that his new project Cairo is a leap up and forward , particularly due to his proggier keyboard presence, though many of the other classic elements are present. A line-up that features a fabulous guitarist in James Hards, a stellar bassist in Paul Stocker, while the drums are powerfully manned by Graham Brown. Lead vocals are handled by Rachel Hill, another addition to a growing list of stunning female prog vocalists, who frankly really outdo the men in quality and talent.

But it is Cottingham who really owns the crown, composing tender and memorable melodies such as on the tremendous 'Say', the dizzying Random Acts of Kindness' and the breathtaking 'Searching'. His sweeping keyboard add orchestrated drama to all the compositions as well as letting his fingers linger on the piano, a most welcome initiative that some prog keyboardists tend to forget at times. He also sings at the appropriate times, an expressive tone that feeds the musical thrill, best illustrated on the penultimate track 'Dancing the Gossamer Thread'. The core of this exhilarating debut, introduced with such flair by seasoned colleague Kev Rowland, is found in the middle tracks with the 2 part 'Nothing to Prove', encompassing 12 and a half minutes of blistering prog rock of the finest vintage. Accessible perhaps but very creative with constant shifts in mood and atmosphere, from preciously chiseled to powerfully bombastic.

'Katrina' comes in two versions, a short and more direct one, as well as final curtain that is extended with assorted effects , including a moment of silence, into a 9 minute whirlwind of aching gorgeousness and unbelievable angst in describing the New Orleans disaster . 'Back from the Widerness' is another jewel of illuminated scintillation, simple and beautiful, a lullaby of unique majesty. Guitarist Hards sends a glittering electric missile into the night sky, igniting a furious second half that spotlights Graham Brown's frenetic Rogers-like drumming (Graham, I just gave you the loftiest compliment!), a sensational slab among other sensational tracks.

From the beginning to the end, this polished production (no other than the genius John Mitchell) makes this into the very rare 'PERFECT DEBUT' category, a fascinating musical journey with no weak moments and easily earns'

5 Pyramids of utterance

Bravo ROB !!!! Masterpiece.

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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