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Colin Bass - An Outcast Of The Islands CD (album) cover


Colin Bass


Crossover Prog

3.85 | 62 ratings

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The Prognaut
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Right before discovering this fantastic album, the nearest approach my ears had to some of Colin's personal musical projects was listening to a couple, then the complete set; of songs he recorded during the "Colin Bass solo in Poland tour, April 2004" which I found over his website. By having listened to those live recordings, no matter how great I thought they sounded on a first impression; I pretty much decided not to catalogue his entire solo work out of just one perception. That one and only encounter with Colin's music so far, pretty much obviated my senses to look for and upper level of recognition, meaning that far beyond getting astonished irremediably, I wanted to know what else was there for me to lend ears to regarding the solo career productions by former CAMEL bassist. And how predisposed I was, finding out that my mind limitations got overwritten by this outstanding, well composed and performed, music.

Notoriously, from the beginning, you'll find out this album is divided by two intromissions. "First Quartet" and "Second Quartet". Both, elegantly and beautifully performed by members of the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kim BURTON. The connotation provided by the word "divided" here, doesn't stand for "separation" or "breaking points" in the continuity of the album, it only spots out the righteous order the episodes have to follow up here, sequentially, one after the other.

When moving on to the musical composition described in the album, that doesn't necessarily imply chamber instruments entirely, you'll find yourself listening to the top song on the track listing, "Macassar". More than being unique in its argumentation and progressiveness, this instrumental piece appears so restless and uneasy, like if it was exploring itself over and over again until the running time has to come to an end. The opening track relates a fantastic world of meticulous descriptions, contemplating as narrators the peaceful Hammond organ of Wojtek KAROLAK, the enticing keyboards and piano of Zbyszek FLOREK, the current anchorman of Polish neo prog band QUIDAM; the impressive drums of Dave STEWART and if it weren't just enough, the massive display of power of Andy LATIMER on his hypnotic lead guitar along Maciek MELLER and Colin BASS on his inseparable bass guitar. When composing and arranging an instrumental piece, there's gotta be an explanation that lacks of words in the process of doing so, and this piece certainly manages the essential significances to give the listener a closer approach to the deep and real meaning of such unspoken dialogue. The constant intromissions by Zbyszek FLOREK and his keys, the recurrent variants of Andy LATIMER replying to that piano and that drumbeat, simply amazing.

To avoid misleading this review from the parameters of wonderful and impressive, I'd like to deviate your attention to the next song in descendent order. "As Far As I Can See" isn't precisely the typical love song, the one that lingers under the appreciation of a heartbreaking or the pointless romancing; this beautiful suite to me, is represented on an excerpt from a dialogue, from a paragraph on some love story. The kind of story that never ends and that carries on even after having read it, over and over again. All of this, taking place among the sounds of a melodic guitar, an upbeat drum, an almost silent piano and obviously, Colin BASS on vocals. The lyric to this song is marvelously executed, not overwritten at all and very realistic. The next song in order of appearance, "Goodbye to Albion", mostly walks in the same footsteps taken by its antecessor, but surprisingly, the impromptu comes along with the sweet sound of a flute, softly executed and taken away so precisely that minimizes the song to a personal, evoking level. Slightly and almost imperceptible, you can notice as well the traditional taste impregnated by QUIDAM inside your mind and ears once you are familiar with the distinctive sound of the Polish band and its gifted musicians. And speaking of which, and despite her early departure from the neo prog band to take on her personal affairs; at that time Emila DERKOWSKA was a part of the dream, a demonstrated what she was capable of, and the fact of lending her angelical voice to the vocals choruses in here, spoke for itself entirely.

"The Straits of Malacca" is a very fresh, adventurous song. You can perceive the sound of Andy's guitar so random and crunchy, it would make you think we aren't talking about the same legendary guitarist. But somehow, you might as well feel how the sound of that aimless guitar, turns into the center of the little universe condensed in that song. With a sudden unexpected closure, this is indeed another fantastic instrumental performed in here. On the other hand, "A´ssa" strangely appears in the shape of sorrow and darkness. It certainly implies a certain touch of the late CAMEL productions, but very enjoyable instrumental piece as well though. Now, while taking on to the next level, "Denpasar Moon" would stand in your way and could make you embrace it right away. A nicely arranged, very rhythmic ballad. I quite enjoyed the songwriting by Colin in here, which is very tuned up to the romance and a sense of detachment from it all. Great stuff.

"No Way Back" displays and represents that ambience contained and breathed throughout the whole album. It is very calm yet violent at some momentary spaces, but in between the narrative it suggests, you will always find Andy LATIMER talking to the wind those spaces left behind, turning the sensation of listening into a very pleasantry experience. At his turn, Colin BASS takes on that bass guitar he's been playing and educating ever since the year of 1968 beheld his life and certainly proves once again, what he's really made of. One more time, the final encore is in charge of Zbyszek FLOREK, giving the piece a complete momentum and the suitable ending. By walking down the same stream, you'll find yourself listening to one of the most revealing songs written for this album, "Holding Out my Hand". The splendid music, the individuality of the instruments made a whole, the passion and the intrigue are some of the determinant factors to keep up the thematic proposed in here. It is not a ballad. Yet it isn't as romantic as it could get. It's a hard to explain composition, but the landscaping proposed by the contagious sounds makes it all easy to understand and to be explained. Once again, cannot avoid listening attentively to the mirage pictured by LATIMER's enchanting guitar. The solo he dared to display in between this cathartic song, is simply impossible to compare to anything he's done before. Just sit back and enjoy.

After the soulful interlude of chords performed on "Outcast", the most impeccable and devouring song out of the entire production to me, makes its triumphal entrance throughout the waves in the air and straight to my mind. "Burning Bridges". I really cannot think of the precise words to detail what I've listened to for almost five minutes of mystery, skin crawling and mysticism. I cannot even think of something more transitional and direct than this song. Obviously, I got dazzled and shocked the first time. Then the second and the third. Then the next time to those, then another. Fantastic is less to say. It combines the purity and the sensitivity so perfectly, it turns into a sea of confusion and unawareness. And of course, still cannot believe how a song with all its instrumentation and songwriting, can evoke such feeling upon oneself. At this point, the remaining couple of songs may appear meaningless to you now, but trust me, they've got a scent of their own. You'll get to listen to some more compassed and melodic chamber instruments, a peaceful drum striking and that piano that's been all the way along this 1999 album. So please, I'm begging you not to miss out this once in a lifetime opportunity. Getting this album is mandatory for any progger or non-progger. Five starts are the less I can humbly do for this masterpiece, but certainly deserves the tops, all in all.

The Prognaut | 5/5 |


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