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Eela Craig - Symphonic Rock CD (album) cover


Eela Craig


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.44 | 14 ratings

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2 stars One of only a handful of Austrian progressive bands, EELA CRAIG, at least on this CD release of their 2nd and 3rd albums (less one track each) straddles the lines between symphonic, fusion and Canterbury, which promises a hearty musical mulligan. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the right volume at which to appreciate EELA CRAIG. If it's down low I turn it up thinking that I am missing something, but soon enough I consider whether lower was better after all.

This just isn't very captivating very often, Caravan-era CAMEL did a better, albeit not stellar, job of blending these styles, and also struck a better balance between vocal and instrumental. Of course there are Teutonic references at work as well, thinking of JANE and GROBSCHNITT in their mellow moments. At times the music does awaken from its stupor, usually in the form of an overly shrill and extended lead guitar solo which hovers about the same few notes. This dichotomy diminishes even the best of the lengthier pieces, like the NEKTAR influenced "Loner's Rhyme", in which the sparkling flute and vocal melodies, and an even better guitar solo, are derailed by incompatibly harsh themes. In "Way Down" is even less "together", and it is supposed to be the epic. Both "Hats of Glass" and "Holstenwall Fair", originally from the later album, are even weaker. The less said about the disco-ey guitars of "The Nude" and "V.A.T", the better.

Still, if you like mellotron and aren't picky about contextual issues, you may enjoy this, especially the ambient opener "The Mighty", but its main tune is too close to the old Soviet anthem for me. "Morning" and "Benedictus" are intriguing short mellow-tronic instrumentals, the latter sporting a rather sophisticated classical influence that should have been better developed. One of the strongest vocal cuts is "Grover's Mill", a traditional prog ballad, again swamped in mellotron. "Heaven Sales" is a more energetic song with an almost poppy Canterbury feel - OK it reminds me of someone else whom I can't recall. It works because of the skilled instrumentation and contrast to the rest of the CD.

While on paper this might get rounded up to 3 stars, I can't be quite so generous because there really isn't a lot to draw me back to E.C. Competent and worth a listen especially for fans of the genres, it really has all the staying power of a one nighter for me.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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