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The Far Meadow - Foreign Land CD (album) cover

FOREIGN LAND

The Far Meadow

 

Neo-Prog

4.13 | 84 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
4 stars The Far Meadow was founded as a five-piece rock combo in London by Eliot Minn (keyboards), Paul Bringloe (drums), Paul Mallatratt (bass), Jon Barry (guitars), and Nokk (voices). The band grew out of the remnants of 'Blind Panic,' which featured Paul Bringloe (drums) and Eliot Minn (keyboards), Jon Barry (guitar), who later played with Big Big Train, Paul Mallatratt (bass) plus Nokk on vocals. Under this name the band didn't release any music and, soon after, the name changed to The Far Meadow. They released their first album entitled Where Joys Abound in 2012, not too long afterwards, Nokk, Jon Barry and PauL Mallatratt all left the band, to be replaced by Keith Buckman (bass), Dennis Warren (guitar) and vocalis Marguerita Alexandrou. In this new line-up The Far Meadow released Given The Impossible in 2016 and Foreign Land in 2019. According to the band "they played under the influence ranging from the classic rock and prog of the innovators (Yes, Genesis, Rush, Focus, Soft Machine, Deep Purple, King Crimson, Gentle Giantl) to the contemporary torchbearers who keep the music alive (Spock's Beard, Flower Kings, RPWL, Rocket Scientists, Dream Theater and many more), together with an added dash of funk, soul, classical, jazz, a twist of blues, and an extreme splodge of general mayhem and insanity."

1. Travelogue (18.55) : An intro with soaring keyboards and spacey synthesizer flights, then bass pedals and an accellaration featuring bombastic Emersonian synthesizer runs, Banks-like organ, a strong rhythm section, moving guitar, and powerful female vocals. This is very pleasant fluent up-tempo prog, with hints from Magenta, but more dynamic and harder-edged. Now the music alternates between more mellow and bombastic parts, very flowing and melodic. From halfway lots of shifting moods, from instrumental with church organ and catchy riffs to a mid-tempo with strong female vocals and a swirling Hammond organ solo (Emerson inspired). In the final part it turns into more mellow with sensitive volume pedal guitar runs, sparkling piano, a bass solo and wonderful vocals. This is topped with a long and compelling guitar solo, from howling to fiery, with deep bass and tight drum beats, now I am in Prog Heaven! The conclusion is a short build-up from dreamy to bombastic featuring strong vocals, moving electric guitar and again Emersonian keyboards, this epic is a very good start!

2. Sulis Rise (8.22) : It starts with beautiful orchestral keyboards, then many flowing changing climates featuring strong work on guitar (evoking Saga) and keyboards, topped with the excellent voice of Marguerita, what an ace. We can enjoy a fluent pitchend bend driven synthesizer solo, a harder-edged guitar solo with fiery runs, a sparkling Banks-like synthesizer solo and a moving electric guitar solo. And every time in between that pleasant and strong female voice.

3. Mud (5.11) : After a short but sumptuous church organ sound the music turns into a dynamic and often bombastic piece with strong work on guitar and keyboards. The female voice does a very good job in every climate, and the band delivers lots of interesting musical ideas.

4. The Fugitive (8.38) : First a swinging rhythm with exciting work on keyboards and guitar, then a slow rhythm with dreamy vocals and beautiful piano runs (Dutch Flamborough Head comes to my mind). Halfway a break with strong interplay between guitar and piano, followed by a fiery guitar solo with slap bass, it sounds as swinging jazzrock, another good musical idea by the band. Finally again those dreamy vocals (with a melancholical undertone) and beautiful piano runs, culminating into a more lush sound, slowly fading away.

5. Foreign Land (11.08) : The intro delivers a mellow atmosphere with subtle dreamy guitar and keyboards, topped with the varied female voice, gracefully meandering through the multiple flowing shifting moods in this alternating final track. The interplay between the vocals and piano is wonderful. Halfway a captivating instrumental break with bombastic keyboards and fiery guitar, how exciting! Then a mellow part with a buzzing bass, dreamy keyboards, after an accellaration follows a long and flashy synthesizer solo. Now it has become the realm of jazzrock featuring a strong, distinctive scale-acrobatic driven guitar soli, supported by a dynamic and powerful rhythm-section. Finally bombastic keyboards and wonderful vocals, in a compelling symphonic rock grand finale with choir-like keyboards, fiery guitar runs and a powerful rhythm-section, wow!

To me this outstanding music, topped with superb female vocals, sounds as adventurous Neo Symhonic Rock, highly recommended!

This review was recently published on the Dutch progrock website Background Magazine, in a slightly different version.

TenYearsAfter | 4/5 |

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