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Breathing Space - Below the Radar CD (album) cover

BELOW THE RADAR

Breathing Space

 

Crossover Prog

3.75 | 17 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars I really enjoyed Iain Jennings' first solo album that was titled Breathing Space, which subsequently evolved rather cleverly into a band name. He then left Mostly Autumn and forged his own path , releasing this third opus featuring the incredible voice of the sultry Olivia Sparnenn (a former and perhaps ongoing Mostly Autumn backing vocalist to the now departed Heather Findlay). Now, let's get one thing perfectly clear, this is not progressive rock at its most explorative, relying instead on a rockier, ultra-tight delivery that is closer to Magenta than anything, highlighting the fabulous vocals and a strong song structure. What makes it such a treat is that the first listen is really not convincing, requiring multiple and focused auditions before rendering a proper reviewer opinion. There is a definite period of adjustment needed to fall into the grasp of their breathing space.

The title track blasts with unabashed fury, a solid, concrete ramble that is both merciless and elegant , guitars rasping deliriously and the rhythm section fully turbo-charged , a cool melody and a poppy veneer like a hard version of Renaissance or recent Mostly Autumn. The mood quickly veers into more euphoric environments with the gentler "Clear", a nebulous piece that grooves breezily, a masterful vocal performance as well as a subtle little synth solo from bandleader Jennings complete the deal. Very nice indeed, great car driving music by the way, the method that eventually got me hooked to this record. The sadness drips gently on the gorgeous "Lantern for a Smile", a ravishing melody sung with despairing agony, tainted with some distant horizon of hope. Fans of superb female vocals will not believe their ears, Olivia is a star! Different than Findlay, she actually is just as convincing in the sweeping soft tones as the harder-edged stuff (The only slight Findlay weakness, in my opinion). There is an epic orchestral beauty that now starts taking over the disc, a previously undetected charm that eventually becomes clear, as one of the first of 2 absolute summits "The Night Take You Home" floats gently under the radar, a beguiling musical hypnosis that has that Magenta feel I mentioned earlier , Olivia bellowing a series of magnificent chorus and verse, a serene groove keeping it majestically symphonic thanks to a Jennings keyboard barrage , starring a bluesy organ solo and a slippery synth solo which befits his fame. Absolutely deadly, a fragile piece of exquisiteness, a tune that will stick in your head for many weeks to come. "Run From Yourself" explores the spikier territories Jennings obviously loves, a vast array of reeling organ solos propelled without pity, a deep furrow that rocks along, splitting the vocal duties as well with the crisp Olivia to great effect, a convincing romper that bubbles with vivacity. Hints of classic stuff here, a raucous festival of shivering ivory. The naturally pristine "Dusk" is a short selection laced with grace and elegance, piano and voice combining to reach celestial heights and deeply affect the romantic sensibilities. The colossal electronica of "Behind Closed Doors" is extremely adroit and appropriate, an icy mood kept arctic with brutally cold guitar fills, in ambush of a huge chorus that has "memorable" stamped all over it. A zippy synthesizer lead shrugs with impudence, the mood settling for a vivacious finale, Olivia crooning with intense revelation (sounding close to Maggie Reilly of Mike Oldfield fame). "Drowning" is another cheerless affair, with a despondent vocal line that shrieks with pain, a huge chorus that scours the skies and a delicate piano that puts the head to the pillow. The second summit is the fitting final epic , a lucid nearly 10 minute classic in "Questioning Eyes" where a cello introduces the scintillating Sparnenn voice )"just close your eyes", the Renaissance-like symphonics becoming obvious (a superb acoustic guitar courtesy of Liam Davison, who finally gets out from the shadow of the more flamboyant Bryan Josh). Check out the massive axe solo and see what I mean! Gigantic!

What an incredible recording, needing an open-mind and an attentive ear, as well as the right environmental circumstance. Way better and more polished than the last few Mostly Autumn offerings and an essential member of the current British prog scene. Iain Jennings has made the right choices Place with other female fronted bands like Iona, Legend, Nemezis, Strawberry Fields, Panic Room, Karnakata, The Reasoning, Blackmore's Night , Mostly Autumn or Magenta. The packaging is modern and yet breathtaking, bathing in deep green light. I love this album. Near perfection ,

5 estrogen blips

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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