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Cosmograf - The Hay-Man Dreams CD (album) cover





3.76 | 66 ratings

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4 stars It is winter here in New Zealand but I am a teacher with two weeks off in the school hols and time to listen and absorb this new offering from Robin Armstrong and guests. I have to say that I would probably give" The Hay man Dreams" 4.5 star rating with a view to maybe the full 5 stars in the future. I don't think this is supposed to be a masterpiece, unless you can accept that a "less is more" approach is enough to warrant any album this title. This collection of songs flies in the face of the overused term "progressive" and it is reassuring that it does. I have been frustrated by much of the anticipated music over the last 7 months and if it wasn't for a recent UK trip which momentarily side stepped market towns, castles and fine ales to an IQ concert and the Marillion weekend, I would have some serious withdrawal symptoms. Personally, I would say that any music that has twists and turns and darkness and light alongside thoughtful ideas, concepts and lyrics does it for me, it doesn't need to progress beyond that. There is not a weak moment on this album and is a great follow up to last years "unreasonable silence" although they are different but equally effective. One thing that I have enjoyed is the confidence in the singing of Robin Armstrong which was not always present in the past. He is able to convey his emotions in a number of guises ranging from that quiet almost spoken word of Ian Anderson or Fish to the melancholy of Steve Hogarth to the angst of Roger Daltrey. The minimalist approach of the music is it's strength as it doesn't try too hard to be anything but a solid rock album, this is most evident in the tracks; "Trouble in the forest", "Cut the corn" and "Melancholy death of a gamekeeper" which is the main catalyist for the theme of the album. How could the themes, I guess, of loss and yearning be better portrayed than with restraint and melancholic beauty. This restraint is all over the album, in the offering from guest musicians who never try to take over , the backup and lead vocals from Rachel Hall which just add a sense of dreaminess and almost ghostly affect, to the narration which is never guilty of over staying it's welcome; instead it actually adds to the overall feel and continuity, not unsurprising as these are words are spoken by David Allan who was the BBC continuity announcer for almost 30 years.

A teacher who must save their best verbal attacks for the best possible affect, this is also apparent in this album, which let's loose on three occasions, opening with "Tethered and bound", the raucous rock build up in 'The motorway" and during the climax in the title track before restraint is resumed. The feeling built up is frustration and a longing that has become too much for the Hay- man, and you can feel it.

This album is not the best by Cosmograf but not the worst either,it is just different, does that make it progressive for Cosmograf? I am more than happy to keep listening to this style of music and thumbs up to Cosmograf who have given the first album for a while that has had me going back to it on multiple occasions for quite a while.

shaunch | 4/5 |


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