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Elegant Simplicity - Purity And Despair CD (album) cover

PURITY AND DESPAIR

Elegant Simplicity

 

Neo-Prog

3.71 | 11 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Purity and Despair is an instrumental recording from 1998 and was perhaps the first Elegant Simplicity album to hit the prog world with any impact and make a few of us sit up and notice. "When Darkness Falls" is whopping nearly 14 minute groove exercise in shifting moods and atmospheres , initially with ballsy synth and guitar-driven interventions , propelled by slick bass and solid drumming, with various flute intermezzos generally escorted by some deep mellotron surges. When the bass sets down the repetitive furrow, the signal is clear for soloist Stephen McCabe to unleash his rather impetuous multi- textured guitar style that is quite different from Latimer/Gilmour sound or even extend some magic fingers over the synthesized ivories, tossing in a few sonic effects via sampling and such. There is a definite frenzy about Elegant Simplicity that seems to go unnoticed but coats the proceedings with an urgency that keeps these long rambling instrumentals always invigorating and unanticipated. In fact, there are overt signs of angst, fury and passion salting the arrangements and no hint of any placid boredom at all. I have actually enjoyed this album while driving on extended business road trips and feeling the Prog wind blowing through my hair. "The Quantum of Solace" is not the soundtrack to the recent Bond film (you ninnies!) but a bluesy prance through dense foliage of sonic episodes, varying from silky exaltations to thicker rock manifestations, some outright piano passages that recall old fashioned Brit-Prog in all its reserved and quaint splendor . If there is a small caveat, it's squarely focused on the rather rubbery and perfunctory drum patterns from Peter Douglas that can augur a feeling of slogging along. He keeps time and that's all folks! Too bad, I say! The soloing is outright inspiring though, especially in the brilliant second half, the thrilling flute beckoning the folly, with more impetus in the synthesizer placements giving way to that sultry organ as it steps in with devastating authority. The piece then veers into a short acoustic guitar/mellotron duet that is arguably the epitome of symphonic prog with flute and mandolin adornments that elicit wonder and amazement. The nearly 20 minute "Tranquility and Drift" relies on serene piano and flute to set the scenery, delicate organ adds to the bravado until the delirious guitar chimes in , oozing a sense of purity and well,.. despair. Vacillating themes provide palatable platforms for Mr. McCabe to solo his heart out, even on exotic acoustic guitar as well as his usually seductive electric style. Hey, the man can play! When the piano settles in the glow expands into sophisticated realms and this long ride is a monumental stroke of prog genius. Many may find the arrangements to be too lengthy and some may wish for more concise pieces but this is Elegant Simplicity's style and it ain't pop either and regardless of the incorrect "neo" tag associated with this band, they like to play on. The shrieking axe makes an otherworldly appearance that constantly sketches out new sonorities and virtuosic flair. The stretched synth getaways are equally compelling and infuse even more polish to the whole. "Arching Desire" bass-booms ahead with some massive synth washes as the wallowing flute mournfully forges the main melody, all quite provocatively orchestrated with luxuriant strings, this is effectively the most overtly classical of McCabe's pieces as the Wakeman-esque grand piano enters the court with grace and style. The churning Hammond joins the harder drums in driving implicitly forward, drenched in deep melancholia and when the growling guitar kicks in, the bliss overcomes you! An anguished fret solo hits home with unabated passion, driving into the subterranean heart. An amazing slice of cinematographic prog. The title track puts this pleasant disc to rest, a serious diversion from the previous onslaughts, with a Procol Harum organ gently sweeping ahead of a beckoning flute, gently rocking the mood as a raging guitar makes a definite melodic statement, highly evocative and expressive. Not as memorable as the upcoming Architect of Light but a sure-fire addition to those who like to bliss out and enjoy great soloing. 4 uncontaminated tears
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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