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Third Quadrant - Layered CD (album) cover

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Third Quadrant

 

Neo-Prog

2.82 | 8 ratings

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Fitzcarraldo
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The sleeve notes quote Kepler (1610): "Let us create vessels and sails adjusted to the heavenly ether and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty wastes." THIRD QUADRANT was a little-known band (Chris Dunn on synthesizer/vocals, Simeon Manners on guitars, and Chris Hare on drums), with help on this album from Dave Forster on bass. The band, from the North West of England, wrote, played, recorded and produced this album themselves, releasing it as a few hundred musicassettes (that's how I got hold of it back in 1988). Only a year or so ago I was delighted to discover that the album had been re-released by the Italian Progressive Rock label Mellow Records, this time on CD. It can be bought direct from Mellow Records or via some of the Web shops that specialise in the genre.

Although the music is not quite as polished as that of full-time musicians (these guys had day jobs!), the song writing is very good, the music pleasant and accessible, and this album can hold its own against many Prog Rock releases from better known Prog bands. I've been listening to this album since 1988, which should say something.

All of the tracks are good. My particular favourites are 'With Wings And Sails' and 'Famulus'. The style of music is rather less synthesizer-based and more guitar and drum based than other neo-Progressive bands that I've heard. Chris Dunn, who is also the singer (a good one, too), uses the synthesizer well, but it's usually woven into the music rather than up front and in your face. Simeon Manners' guitar work is very pleasing, with a variety of moods and styles throughout the album. Chris Hare's drums are a bit uninventive on the first track, but his drum work on later tracks is very good - I particularly like his African take in 'Chicken Run'. Bassist Dave Forster puts in a very credible performance too. If I had to draw any comparisons, I would say that there is a slight resemblance to YES, but THIRD QUADRANT very much have their own sound.

'Listen To The Sky' starts with a spacey, echoey intro but turns into an up-tempo number that pumps along with thumping bass and drums. The tune is good, as are the synth and guitars (particularly in a YES-like instrumental interlude).

'Dream Time' again has some good guitar and synth work with YES hints and is a pleasant tune. I like this one.

'With Wings And Sails' starts off as a calm number and then becomes boppy. It has some pleasant acoustic guitar, plus good bass and synth. The melody is excellent and it's a nice song. The drums are varied and noticeably good on this one. Towards the end of the track there is a great instrumental section with guitar, bass and drums.

'Chicken Run' is another thumper, with some pounding bass and drums. There is a sound bite of the BBC newsreader Michael Buerke talking about the tense situation in Africa. The bass and 'African' drumming on this track are particularly good.

'Famulus' is another track that starts with some good bass. It's a calmer number with a great tune and is a real foot-tapper. Part way through there is an instrumental section with some very good guitar.

'Bloodbath' is the only instrumental track on the album (although all the tracks have lengthy instrumental sections). The track has a bombastic start (think 'enter the gladiators') then some good drums kick in, the synth produces the sound of an explosion, and the track speeds up with guitar for a while before returning to the slow theme from the beginning. There are several changes in tempo and style: the piece has slow, upbeat and helter skelter moments, with choppy axe then war drums, and some good sounds from the synth.

Overall, then, this is an interesting album and a worthwhile investment in my opinion. I would give it 3.5 stars if such a thing were possible but will go with 3 (Good, but non-essential) although I'm tempted to bump it up to 4 (Excellent addition to any Prog Rock collection). I'm certainly pleased to have it in my collection.

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |

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