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Tinyfish - The Big Red Spark CD (album) cover

THE BIG RED SPARK

Tinyfish

 

Crossover Prog

3.77 | 97 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

amazingwilf
5 stars I don't often break cover and write reviews of albums, but here's something that really raises the bar and insists I make an exception.

Tinyfish are a South London group who describe themselves as "the world's smallest progressive rock band". Their first album, eponymously titled and released in 2006, was a refreshing antidote to the overblown excesses of the genre - nicely crafted songs, quirky spoken-word segments which made the listener sit up and take notice, and even a dyed-in-the-wool epic in the shape of 'All Hands Lost'.

It's taken three and a half years for the band to release the successor - though with the Curious Things EP and a live album and DVD in the interim - but boy, has it been worth the wait. Think of the first album as a pointer to what Tinyfish might be capable of, and The Big Red Spark as the culmination, and you're along the right lines. Again, the songs are songs rather than meandering, pointless exercises in technical competance, though the skill of the musicians in the band cannot be doubted. In particular the guitars sound huge - Jim Sanders an old-school melodic guitar hero, and Simon Godfrey a rock-solid textural rhythm player. Godfrey's artistry comes through further in the way the album is put together, the songs structured around an over-arching concept, developed through Robert Ramsay's lyrics (this man has to be the finest lyricist in progressive rock today, period) and his spoken word pieces, the mood of which ranges from exciting, thrilling almost, to totally chilling. The whole thing is held together by a solid rhythmic backbone of bass (Paul Worwood) and drums (that man Godfrey again), which never gets in the way of the song or the message.

The Big Red Spark is based around a suite of songs, bookended by The Loose Ends, Godfrey singing over a soundscape, with the first segment prefaced by a spoken-word monologue recited by no other than Mr. Godfrey Snr (a gentleman with a superb voice, honed through many years of working in radio). We're then treated to the first "oh my God" moment in the shape of Rainland, simply one of the most breathtaking pieces of rock music I've heard in a long time. This song has all the Tinyfish hallmarks - huge lead guitars, a hook you could catch a shoal of fish with, and Ramsay with his first spoken contribution to the album. After this the songs come thick and fast - Bad Weather Road with its bluesy groove, I'm Not Crashing a superb ballad, the title track a progressive rock monster, and the subdued tense acoustic feel of Weak Machine - before the concept is fulfilled in Activation, with a reprise of the Rainland theme. These songs are interspersed with more spoken-word segments which develop the story, recited by Ramsay and guest contributor Iain Houston over more of those exquisite soundscapes. At the end of the disc we're treated to another ten minutes of superb progressive rock in the form of Wide Awake At Midnight - which may be part of the concept, or maybe not. The band are happy enough to let the listener decide for him or herself.

The initial run of the album comes with a DVD featuring an interview with the band and four bonus tracks - these songs aren't filler, but simply pieces which didn't fit into the original concept but are worthy of release on their own. Ride is of special note - a song based on a riff by Bill Hicks, and sung by Geoff Wootton, whose voice provides a nice contrast to Godfrey's more 'rock' delivery.

I could go on forever - but basically my advice is to buy this album. This really does fulfil the criteria for five stars - an essential part of any progressive rock lover's collection.

amazingwilf | 5/5 |

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