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Eureka - Shackleton's Voyage CD (album) cover





3.62 | 68 ratings

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3 stars This is a really nice little journey of an album. Documenting musically the journey of Ernest Henry Shackleton and his crew to Antarctica, their time stranded there, and the amazing adventure that followed in search of salvation is an ambitious goal, but Frank Bossert approached it admirably.

The album starts off with some narration explaining roughly what the listener is going to be hearing about for the next little while. Following that is Departure, the first instrumental piece (out of nine), giving the listener an excellent idea of what they are in for: great, atmospheric instrumental pieces. Departure has a decidedly celtic feel about it that works quite well.

The Challenge features the vocals of Billy Sherwood (making this a collectible for Yes' most dedicated fans - although I'm not that dedicated of a fan personally, and bought this album based on samples heard online), and it is not overly bad, although to be honest I prefer the tracks where Frank really gets to work on the soundscapes without having to allow space for the vocals.

Luckily, Grytviken Whaling Station brings us back into the deft hands of Frank Bossert, and we find ourselves once again being taken away on this fantastic voyage. The music fits the Whaling Station locale perfectly. Following that is Heading South, which features excellent - if not overly complex - drums. (Who says it can't be good if it's not complex, anyways?).

Icebound is the first "stumble" on the album, not being quite as interesting as what has preceded it, but it is followed by the excellent "Plenty of Time", which always makes me want to get up and dance a jig (even though I'm not entirely sure what a "jig" even is). Story-wise, this takes place during the turning point in the story, and from that sense, I find it interesting that Frank decided to go the optimistic route for this.

"The Turning Point", I guess, is more literally the turning point in the story, and once again we are given some narration to explain what is going on, followed by "Going Home", the other song with Billy Sherwood guesting. I find I appreciate Going Home more than The Challenge.

"Into the Lifeboats" doesn't start off as convincingly as some of the prior tracks, but shortly after the two minute mark it gets a needed dose of intensity that makes it much more interesting. Unfortunately, Elephant Island I find to be rather droll, never really going anywhere or catching my attention. In this case, it seems to me a case of the music suffering for the story - I tend to forget that I am listening to the album until "Will You Ever Return?" (with Kalema guesting) starts playing. "Will You Ever Return" itself is a nice song, although it is not one of the best moments of the album - I have to admit a preference for the effective instrumental moments.

In Search of Relief is another weaker track, and unfortunately, it is the longest on the album. It starts off promising enough but my mind quickly wanders; around the two minute mark, much like in IceBound, it gets a bit heavier and more intense, which brings back my attention, although this is short lived, as it goes into a bit that reminds me strongly of "Heading South" only less interesting. Sadly, The Rescue did not rescue the album from going out on a low note - it too sounds remarkably familiar and doesn't stay as interesting as the earlier half of the album. The closer, "We Had Seen God", is essentially just dialogue, and while it is a nice quote to finish the story, it ends the album on a tired, low note.

It would be impossible to consider this music without it's package, for the liner notes include a photograph from the real voyage for each song, including some notes on what is happening in the story. Listening to the album while reading this is quite an enjoyable experience.

For those who would fear that this album would be another bland Neo-prog album that sounds like a Genesis clone, they can rest assured that it is more than that. This album definitely has it's own feel and charm. Unfortunately, that feel and charm runs dry halfway through the album. For the excellent first half, I award this album three stars.

TheGazzardian | 3/5 |


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