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Elegant Simplicity - Architect Of Light CD (album) cover

ARCHITECT OF LIGHT

Elegant Simplicity

 

Neo-Prog

3.25 | 12 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Elegant Simplicity is the most underrated, misunderstood and criticized artist on PA bar none. That such a talented musician as Steven McCabe gets so little love and affection is bewildering as most reviews are tepid, lukewarm or outright negative. There have been 19 albums since 1992 with an arid paucity of any review, mostly ignored by the PA intelligentsia for reasons that simply escape me. I beg to differ with the few reviewers who allotted poor grades to some of these discs (this one in particular) as most of the criticism is untrue and unjust. Perhaps they were suckered into expecting some boring neo-prog which this simply isn't! Maybe it's the "too prolific so its gotta be crap syndrome" but that doesn't fly with Roine Stolt and his Flower Kings, so why pick on Mr.McCabe? Perhaps some like to crucify talented multi-instrumentalists or simply have higher experimental expectations (with neo , you got to be kidding!) and I think that it has more to do with lackluster barely audible volume or outside interference deflecting the true nature of this craft from our sensible scribes, as wallpaper music this simply isn't. I mentioned in a more recent Elegant Simplicity review that I enjoy this album immensely and I do, having listened to it a few dozen times and loving it more and more. "Time to Breathe" unleashes a barrage of sonic effects with some verses ("the Architect of Light" is repeated on all tracks ) from the major opus to follow but the swift synth-led revelry is exhilarating at best, sweeping forward at breakneck velocity, that first sizzling guitar solo should rip your sullen ears apart as it flies, fries and never dies! Raging Hammond, rough guitar rhythmics, booming bass and throbbing drums add to the gratification. As the title implies, you need to catch your breath after this one, which is how the piece ends! "Stars on the Water" is not "smoke on the water" granted but it keeps the pace energetic with a wonderfully expressive melody and a delicious vocal by Ken Senior. McCabe wrestles some fabulous tones from his axe, whirling, twirling and surging with accuracy and zest. The piano makes an impromptu intervention (McCabe is an extraordinarily gifted keyboardist as well) and relaunches the theme into an even more gut wrenching summary with an added guitar blitz that is lightning fast and hyper-loaded with feeling. Sorry no plodding crap in sight or sound! The colossal "A Crack in the Sky" starts off with brisk flute that may recall a famous dromedary but as soon as the guest violin screeches into the fray, the tempo heats up considerably. The mighty mellotron takes a brief bow and ushers in another zipping guitar flight that hurtles along brilliantly, holly mother it is, guitar freaks! As everything dies down, the gentle flute cattily plays with the clanging bell synths and evolves into a different direction, the expressive vocal enters with serene aplomb gently stating the mood to follow. The 'tron returns for some more symphonic colorations weaving nicely with marimba synthesizer patches and vocal effects and gregarious laughter. Grandiose and mottled with generous melodies, the main repeated guitar solo is inspirationally meaningful, at times lusty and then suddenly circumspect, increasing in dexterity and emotive power. Again, boring this is not! The softer segments do have a certain Floydian feel , loose drumming a la Mason, whistling synth flights remindful of Rick Wright's work and that impulsive mad guitar blast that reeks of a more frenetic Gilmour (at the 12th minute). Unbloody believable, I say! This is wimpy? Are you kidding me? Flute lassos in the main theme again for a bluesier, laid-back finale that has now more overt Latimer/Gilmour overtones, passing the torch to a harder edge revisit of that dizzying theme that just won't go away! The glory then fades gently into the mist, what a ride! The nearly 17 minute title track goes for the jugular, with a flute driven romp that will remind some of Tull but has tons of whizzing keys and blaring mellotrons that recall previous themes (A Crack in the Sky) and acts really as a sequel, metamorphosing into a fervent organ rant (very vintage Traffic-like) that initiates a fluid jazzy piano digression and an astounding vocal with a chorus that will stick in your mind for weeks to come, as the flute will remind some of Thijs Van Leer's work with Focus, fluttering with bucolic wisdom. The achingly gorgeous refrain ("hush") is irresistible and the passion is obvious and invigorating as Senior heightens the inner pain with a secondary chorus that explodes with unabated power, the groove developing into a masterful guitar foray that bleeds with unmitigated pain and overt suffering, while the synth flutters in subversive interlude, the sustained lead writhes in agony, screaming its spleen and howling with complete disdain for any decorum. What a solo, OMG! So you want to rest, a little filler fluff? Nope! As the final track is a colossal 23 minute monster called "Capillary Attraction" that combines all the usual suspects in heady sonic foliage, with a new theme that has "elegance" and "simplicity" at its very core, a beautiful melody that is modeled, caressed and molded into various exhortations, the imperial McCabe guitar leading the way, bass in parallel assurance, keyboards flashing the way and the drums keeping it all tight and tenacious. The fret board lead slithers, stretches, ascends and dives with dexterity, sophisticated, classy, chic and enthusiastic. The merry-go-round even includes a brief piano waltz that is wholly unforeseen and hence proving that the craft work is conceived with flair and imagination. The piece then dips into a long groovy bliss out that has slight Traffic/Allman Brothers intonations with assorted recurring detours. Plodding this ain't! The pace is way too turbo charged to consider papering your walls while this is playing, you will make only a huge driveling and sticky mess!

Yeah, it's long and certainly demanding (as if that's a problem for proggers!) but this isn't pop music or the Ramones, so get over it and relax! There's 70 minutes of jet-propelled prog workouts here that should only illicit astonishment at the sheer talent of this much-maligned band. Give this supreme band a measure of respect, I did and I really like Elegant Simplicity. PLAY IT LOUD!

4.5 Radiance Builders

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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