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Colin Tench Project - Minor Masterpiece CD (album) cover


Colin Tench Project


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 108 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars It's Christmas time, by gosh and by golly, and here comes Santa, only the sleigh has been commandeered by Colin "Mad Yeti" Tench and is being pulled by thirteen granny prog tracks. In the back are several helpers, elves who are chucking digital copies of the new Colin Tench Project album "minor Masterpiece" to the crest of the new fallen snow below.

Look! There's Finland's busiest bassist, Petri Lindstrom handling the low end gifts. There's Gordo Bennett orchestrating his horns and strings, G-string tautly in place. Then on one side we see Peter Jones shouting sarcastic remarks in a disgruntled British gentleman's tone, while on the other side we find Joey Lugassy has brushed off the dust of his bunch of keys, his long curly locks blowing in the crisp winter air and his warm voice bringing a glow to the hearts of granny proggers everywhere. And thumping away in the back is drummer boy Joe Vitale, looking vital and invigorated as he beats his skins for the Yuletide Fest.

Now, before we delve into this much-anticipated (*citation needed) second offering from CTP (Cheese Tomato Paste for those of you not in the know), let's briefly take a look at what is different this time round and what remains familiar. The debut album, elegantly entitled "Hair in a G-string (unfinished but sweet)" was a project that was begun a few years prior, when Colin was just getting back into playing the guitar after a very long hiatus. But just as the initial compositions were starting to take shape, he became busy with Corvus Stone and then a good number of other projects before he was finally able to return his attention to his own project. To see it all come to life as wonderfully as it did, he enlisted the help of nearly two dozen musicians! The album was comprised of a suite in four parts, some very catchy songs, some acoustic instrumentals, a couple of reworked Corvus Stone themes, and some of the earliest compositions for the project. The album was so long that the final track had to be made a bonus track for download only as it would not fit on the CD!

For "minor Masterpiece", Colin has kept things a little simpler. First of all, the band is made up of six main members (those merry-making men mentioned above) and two special guests: Eddie Young on cello and Christo Pellani on drums and percussion on one track. It's all fresh material, and the album clocks in at just around 50 minutes, so for those who can't sit through a full CD of music without a potty break, this should be discomfort-free.

For those who loved the first album, you'll be glad to know that with Gordo Bennett, Peter Jones, and Petri Lindstrom on board again with Colin, much of what made "Hair in a G-String" taste so good, er, sound so good is still present here. Also, there is a wonderful catchy but intelligent single in "See How She Runs", a running theme in tracks two to seven, a beautiful acoustic instrumental that at times hearkens back to 69/70 Pink Floyd, an orchestral instrumental that has properly earned its place on the album and not as a download special bonus track, and some entertaining, upbeat rock. Naturally, Colin adds some Spanish flare (because he's secretly an English Mexican) accompanied by some Latin rhythms while other exotic "world music" melodies easily slip from his strings, and Peter Jones shows off his inimitable talent for theatrical and comedic vocal improvisation.

New to the roster are Joey Lugassy and Joe Vitale. Joey, a two-timer when it comes to Grammy nominations, joined Colin way back in the 80's for vocal duties on the BunChakeze album "Whose Dream" and he comes back to take the mic for a few tracks here: "Darkness Falls", "He's Gone", and "Welcome to Your World" and sharing vocals with Peter on "Now Get on Your Way". Joe Vitale, who plays with Joe Walsh and has played with Crosby Stills and Nash, sits on his stool and deftly handles his drum sticks without a turkey in sight.

Without a doubt, this is a CTP album in sound, style, attention to detail, lyrical significance and humour. Side one is mostly tied in a theme while side two also seems to have some tracks at least sharing a story. For example, "Welcome to Your World" begins with "Now you like to do it your own way / But afraid they might not approve / Fly above them, seduce them, inspire them" while "Your Song is a Nightmare" tells a story that sounds like it's from the point of view of a very critical judge for X-factor: "That's your song? Oh, my word, I've never heard such a load of cobblers! How did you think that we'd waste our time on this trash you dare to bring us?" But this Nightmare song seems to also tell the story for many artists, particularly prog artists because the judge asks to know what the genre is and later complains that they've listened for "over ten seconds" and judged that the song is too long! When the lyrics to the final track "Now Get on Your Way" reveal themselves to be a reprisal of the lyrics to the opening track "See How She Runs" there's a message suggested. Though "See How She Ruins" is actually a kind of open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May about Brexit, connecting them to the judge in an X-Factor-like show almost seems to imply a show business similarity to the political arena. But perhaps I'm reading too much into this.

Some eyebrow raisers here are the humorous but lyrically vague rocker "Didn't Even Want to Do It. Did It Anyway" (which is the first time, I think, I've seen a period in a song title). Peter Jones delivers a soulful American style vocal and adds lots of humour to the song in little quips here and there. And yet there's a lyrical theme that possibly relates to those previously mentioned tracks on side two. The music is also especially effective as it follows the slow and sombre "Darkness Falls". Another curious track is "Squeaky Door Time", a rollicking instrumental that features, you guessed it, a squeaky door! Also, you'll catch some beautiful orchestration in "Now Be on Your Way" and "Waiting for Gordo" by Gordo Bennett. Gordo flexes his orchestral muscle throughout the album to beautiful effect!

Though not as long as the previous album or any Corvus Stone albums, "minor Masterpiece" is a treat of a variety of styles and approaches. Colin is often inspired by the early seventies for the diversity and daring of the music of that time and it shows on this wonderful new offering from CTP. It's a worthy successor to the hairy string album. This may not be everyone's cup of eggnog; I often feel CTP and Corvus Stone albums are best enjoyed on their own. Like a Tim Burton movie, there's a certain uniqueness/madness that you have to accept. Colin and Co. put a lot into their music. This is no easily chewed, swallowed and digested piece of gingerbread. It's a savoury meal that requires proper mastication to fully appreciate. A good glass of wine might help, figuratively or literally.

Oh, and special mention must go to the Fantasiastic artwork of Sonia Mota. I'm really looking forward to seeing the artwork in the digipak when it comes out.

Catch the official download release on December 24th and be ready for the CD on January 30th (because why wait until the absolute last day of the month!). Warning: this album becomes even more enjoyable with repeat listens.

FragileKings | 5/5 |


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