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Cirrus Bay - The Art of Vanishing CD (album) cover


Cirrus Bay



3.75 | 44 ratings

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5 stars Bill Gillham has developed into one of the better composers/writers out there, having a penchant for beautiful melodies that sometimes will start in one key and end in another. Brian Wilson toyed with this at times. Dave Stewart was a master of it, and of course Tony Banks was a fan of this sort of composition. Banksian type chord progressions are heard on the new Cirrus Bay album, but in different settings. The music is very outdoorsy, and more acoustic and organic than previous albums. Of course, I never want to review a Cirrus Bay album too quickly, given their talent for melodic subtleties which are rife throughout the different moods and styles that wrap up into this coherent whole.

The album starts with 'A Blossom of Hills', a pastoral type intro, blending 12-string guitars which lay the foundation for a nice melody, sung richly by Tai. I love the Anthony Phillips-like crossfades in this track, adding to the pastoral mood which is later broken by a burst of guitar over energetic rhythms. The track gets quite glorious toward the end. The next track, 'Undiscovered Isle' is an acoustic guitar solo, pleasant but nothing special. But the next, 'A Garment of Clouds' is a strong candidate for the prettiest song they've ever done, still with fairly unconventional chord changes and poignant, wistful lyrics, matching the mood of the song. Musically it reminds me of a cross between Renaissance and a Genesis track like ''Time Table' or 'Heathaze'. Something like that. The next track, 'The North Country' is another strong nod to Bo Hansson, something they did on their previous album. This one has a stronger mood for me, and like Bo's music, I envision driving across a cloudy countryside when I hear this. 'Sooke Harbour' is a lovely instrumental, led by recorder of all things, and sax over 12-string guitars, piano and organ. A sense of longing in this one, hard to describe. One of my favorites. 'Eden' is a breezy upbeat song, not too far removed from 'Boats' from 'Places Unseen', followed by 'Unexpected Wonder', another instrumental which, while being quite complex, is also chock full of rich melodies. I love the way the music changes throughout this track while flowing together seamlessly. This one reminds me some of Deluge Grander. The next one is intriguing. 'Lost and Profound' is a piano and sax duet that sounds almost classical, beautiful in an unconventional way but I can't quite place the influence. Philip Glass? Tony Banks? Kerry Minnear? Perhaps just a smidgeon of all three, I don't know, but it also feels a touch like their earlier piece 'The Secret Country'. Next they break into a proper song, 'The Dictator', which sounds a bit like the Beatles and a bit like Tony Banks to me. Almost radio friendly, but in a good way. Great build up at the end. Great vocals here, and intriguing lyrics. Finally, 'The Vanishing Place' rounds things out as the most proggy track on the album, full of twists and turns, time-signature changes, majestic passages, and repeating melodies. A good contender for the best track in their entire catalog. I'm giving this a solid 4.5 at least. The music is warm, and unusually well written and executed. I may edit this review once the cd with bonus tracks becomes available, depending on the quality of the bonus tracks. But this was a very nice surprise and there is much detail here, I find myself listening again and again, finding new things to appreciate with each listen.

brotherjohn | 5/5 |


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