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Lands End - Pacific Coast Highway CD (album) cover

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY

Lands End

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.63 | 25 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars This is another shining example of prog jewels lost in the mayhem of past glories and new releases. In many ways it is amateurish, yet it continues to spark my smile whenever I run across it in my bookcase, a luscious extravagance that has three unshakable characteristics that never fail to amaze: enthusiasm, dedication and musicianship. Yes, there are strong Floyd emanations in the sweeping compositions, laden with assorted special aquatic effects (one of their favorite themes as they come from California) but these are lads that really learnt their prog-history lessons well and espoused the spacey traditions to their fullest. They are dedicated to their own sound and the results are laudatory .As for the musicians ,Drummer Mark Lavallée is splashy and hyper, rifling beats all over the place, Fred Hunter mans a simple bass and an arsenal of keys very much in the "less is better" Rick Wright school of playing, Brazilian ex-pat guitarist Francisco Neto is a wizard and a true star, a clearly imaginative fretmeister that is an odd combination of Gilmour/Santana, while singer Jeff McFarland favors a style that may shock a few of you , a frantic, urgent quasi Robert Smith of the Cure method of delivery that is highly original. "Conspicuously Empty" is an 11 minute example of these well-designed talents, highly cinematographic and dense. The supremely ambient "Requiem of the Sea" cascades gently at first, waves of slashing waves interspersed with a dizzying Flamenco- style acoustic guitar serenade that is priceless, becoming highly arousing, with sounds of whooshing gales, images of ominous clouds and the aroma of a swelling tide. This voluptuous track is space/psychedelic prog at its shiny zenith, deliberate, unhurried, conspicuously ardent and hypnotic. A snail-like promenade on synths and mellotrons shovels the pace along, with serene vocals pleading for some nautical respite, amid the jangling guitars and the funeral procession drums. The exit lead guitar solo is splendid in first restraint and then explosion, a tremendous tour de force. WOW! "Persistant Memories" is a more upbeat arrangement while remaining deeply entrenched in the lush harmonies that this band obviously aspires to maintain! The approach here is closer to outright Space Rock, very moody at first with assorted drum rolls and strands of wispy guitar licks, then propulsed ahead by a haunting guitar riff that initiates a blistering run into a gorgeous chorus, a grandiose and memorable piece of progressive melancholia ("I still got my yesterday"), a gentle mid-section and an even more brutal charge forward, full of agony and regret. I mean what can you not like here? "At Lands End" is the longest track at over 15 minutes and it's a sonic voyage to say the least! The initial effervescence is highly electronic yet somehow disjointed until the sibilant synthesizers take over the reins with elegant command, steering the piece into even denser soundscapes. Nothing too technical or flashy, just solid sustenance for the melodies. Nothing is Rushed (sorry Geddy!), the prog Turtle versus the Hare. The diamond here is the whopping Neto guitar detonation, a virtuoso performance that would make the "Comfortably Numb" one blush with envy. "The Last Word" is my fave track , a stirring, sprawling and spooky theme that has an eerie feel thanks to some desperate vocals, a desolate slowburn that weaves into a palpable drum and cymbal-heavy space (a slight Crimson feel at times) and a clear destination as this is the finale stretch of the album, with what else but a massive guitar solo that is truly Gilmourian, big bent notes soaring high above the synthesized vortex, howling mellotrons and furious drumming all around. Floyd fans beware, this is the bright side of the moon! A masterful underappreciated epic slab of pure prog that warrants your attention. All in all , this is a fantastic album .Guess what colour the cover artwork is? Yeah! PINK .Not perfect but very very close. 4.5 Erik Estradas
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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