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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Emkog Sampler CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

3.69 | 24 ratings

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4 stars Dan Britton is a busy man! Until now I've only been familiar with his excellent Birds and Buildings project but since receiving this Emkog Records sampler I hadn't realised that he's involved in another three bands, all represented here. In fact, this has been put together by Dan himself, the purpose of this compilation to be an introduction to his work.

Being already familiar with them I'll start with Birds and Building. They're represented by two tracks from Bantam to Behemoth, Birds Flying Into Buildings and an edited version of Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass. The former also just happens to be my favourite track off an overall excellent album. It's a frantic and complex piece of prog with a strong jazz rock flavour. They're all excellent players, Dan himself contributing Keyboards and guitar to the band by the way and the tracks notable for some particularly exhilarating sax playing. It twists and turns for over nine minutes but never lets up on the energy quotient. Excellent stuff indeed. Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass is more restrained in more of a symphonic vein with sax man Brian Falkowski switching to flute and there's some fine acoustic guitar work and is that a mellotron I hear?

Deluge Grander open this album with The Solitude of Miranda, a track from their first album August In The Urals, released in 2006. More heavily in a symphonic vein than Birds And Buildings, it's a beautifully rich piece with captivating melodies and is another busy composition. The second track from this formation is the almost thirteen minute Aggrandizement. It comes from their second album just released last year in 2009 and has been edited from nineteen to thirteen minutes. More restrained than The Solitude Of Miranda but equally dramatic, it also features some haunting melodies.

Cerebus Effect contribute the earliest recording here with Nine Against Ten. Dan Britton was a band member here as opposed to being the main driving force as he is with the previous two bands. It's a powerful instrumental (as is the majority of this sampler) in a jazz rock vein with some metallic guitar work. Once again it's marked by some stunning musicianship and is another highly enjoyable composition.

All Over Everywhere is the most recent band here and are the furthest away stylistically from the other three. Easily the most accessible and commercial they're represented by two tracks from their debut album released this year, Inner Firmaments Decay. The band is more the vision of multi-instrumentalist Trinna Kesner, though Britton does contribute keyboards and has a hand in the compositions. They're characterised by the haunting vocals of Megan Wheatley and musically go for a simpler symphonic approach than anything else here creating a rich soundscape with lush melodies. Art Of The Earth and Gratitude are two lovely compositions and if the rest of the albums as good as this then it's one I'd like to hear.

The album closes with a twenty minute collection of demos, strung together as a continuous track and actually works well as a piece in its own right. I guess these will most likely end up on the next Deluge Grander or Birds And Buildings albums and there's already some good ideas developing.

Overall then this Emkog sampler makes a great introduction to the various bands that feature Dan Britton and very impressive it is too, giving me an appetite to look into the ones I didn't already know in more depth. At such a reasonable price most prog lovers can't go wrong and will almost certainly find something they like on here. In my case I can safely say I enjoyed it all.

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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