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Epignosis - Still The Waters CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.32 | 60 ratings

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3 stars Epignosis is a well respected member of the PA community and a known source for entertainment on the forum, so I was really curious if his music would reveal any other qualities then his well-known wit with words. I think the answer is a firm yes to that. His first release testifies of a lot of musical qualities, both in writing, arranging and performing. There are also a number of flaws though, or should I put it more gently and call them potential for growth?

The album is a solo effort, the fruit and labour of one single mind. But I must conclude that not all instruments have been given an equal portion of care. Epignosis is a guitar player first and foremost. Luckily he truly excels at it. I like his sound, his feel for timing, his sustain and his fluid playing. The quality of the guitar parts have made it really easy to keep returning to this album. I also fully approved of the keyboard arrangements. They are important in the overall sound and are handled very subtle and tasteful. The bass guitar is fine, if a little underused maybe.

To move towards the weaker points, I must say I am only half-enthused by the songwriting. Generally it is very adequate, showing many good ideas and dynamics. And none of the songs overstay their welcome. Still, they fail to fully convince me. It's partly due to some issues with the execution and recording of the material. There is simply not enough fire in this album. I feel that some of the instruments would have improved had they been handled by a dedicated player of the instrument. Also, the involvement of other musicians might have brought in a few more ideas to animate the compositions. So, if I may, I'd like to take this review in a slightly patronizing direction and fool around with a few ideas.

I have two problems with the vocals. The first is with the melodies themselves. I prefer more drama and passion in both delivery and melody. Sure, this one is a matter of taste. But there's another point which is harder to ignore. The vocals lack warmth, they sound insecure and they are slightly strained in the more intensive parts. Some more rehearsing or a few live gigs could improve them a lot.

But I would like to brainstorm around the idea of a guest singer. It may be a tough point to take of course. This is a one man effort and to entrust the vocals to another person is like leaving your baby in the care of others. But I was listening to Caravan the other day and I think this Sinclair fellow might do a great job here. He would be able to add warmth and sensuality to the tunes without dramatizing or changing them too much. Another option would be Geddy Lee. Really, that other day I was also listening to Geddy Lee's solo album and it hit me from which direction Epignosis' vocal inspiration might come from. Take Lee's solo song Slipping as an example, with the great dynamics and subtle emotive delivery of Lee, the melodies here could have had more impact.

Another point to address are the drum parts. To be blunt, they are dull; to be friendly, I'd say that most of the music flows well enough without even needing any drums. In fact, they are mixed to the background so that they don't intrude in the overall sound. Problem solved? Not really. The material might really get a boost from better developed drum parts. The challenge would be to find an inventive drummer that can also keep quiet every few minutes. No an easy catch obviously. Drummers usually are hyperkinetic busy-bodies that can't help ruffling up every blank space. So we sure wouldn't want Portnoy anywhere near this music. Maybe, it's a long shot, but why not Carl Palmer? He's always been my favourite of the ELP boys and on albums like Pictures at an Exhibition he has proven his ability not to drum when it's not needed. Of course, this might cost a few extra beers or the latest Wii console for virtual drumming to keep the man busy during the quiet parts.

Finally we will need a producer, someone with a good ear, capable to promote the best ideas and cover up the weaker parts, someone who can suggest alternative sounds or arrangement, in other words, a complementary mind that respects the artist original intent. Obviously I would like to suggest Steve Wilson but let's face it, that cooperation wouldn't be very fertile. Wilson would get kicked out of the studio from the moment he went like "Look Bob, why don't we use this big climatic wall of scary noise like I did on Insurge ... aargh!".

Right, I'm getting way out of line here. But I guess the ironic understatement (ehm overstatement) is quite clear. My point being that this album contains fine music, but it is hasn't gone beyond the rough outline of its possibilities. It doesn't deliver what it could have been. With the cooperation of a few other musicians and a professional production we might have been reviewing a much stronger end result.

For one thing, this album sure spurs lengthy reviews :-)

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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