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FORBIDDEN DRAMA

byron

 

Crossover Prog

3.95 | 28 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Romanian prog rock anybody? No, I didn't think that this was a sentence that most people reading this review would automatically have in their thoughts, but that, of course, is the beauty of this site - the opportunity to experience wonderful new music and also realise that prog rock is not confined to the "usual" countries.

This is the debut album by Byron, released in 2007, and a project led by Dan Byron, who provides vocals, guitar, and flute. More on that wonderful instrument later.

It is an extremely impressive debut, and one that covers such a wide range of the rock spectrum and influences that it could just about qualify as the archetypal Crossover Prog album.

We have some pounding rock anthems, and for a good example, look no further than the opener Fake Life, which, by the way, features some of the most relevant and socially aware lyrics I have had the pleasure to listen to in years. At the other end of the spectrum, we have pure mellow joy in tracks such as Far Away.

There are all sorts of influences going on in this highly original piece. Certainly, Byron cannot be anything else other than a fan of the scene we called Art Rock in the 70's, but this is fused with a deep sensibility of the craft of producing music that is warm and welcoming, rather than so eclectic as to alienate a large proportion of an audience. There are also some extremely good jazz passages here, the keyboardist (the marvellously named 6fingers) is never anything less than accomplished, and I particularly love his piano work on tracks such as On The Road, there is richly dark European folk, and, in between, we have pure pastoral symphonic prog, with a massive nod to the past, but recorded and produced in such a fashion as to never be described as neo prog. In Essential Piece we also have a track that, in a just world, could have been a hit single.

Pure proggers will also love the flute playing of Dan Byron. It is simply divine, and the opening piece we hear on the title track is a huge and lovely contrast to what preceded it. The flute is used as it was in the finest tracks of yore - as a part of the narrative, and I swear that I have not heard a better use of this lovely instrument since the Gabriel & Anderson years. It is as good as that. Annoying Detail could well have been played by Anderson to these ears, had I not known better.

The concept of the album is clearly socio-political, and I like and agree with Byron's obvious distaste of much of what passes for modern society. It gives us, by the way, one of the finest song titles of all time, The Dawn Of A Drunk Bum. There are many highlights, but my favourite is the excellent No Man's Land which mixes all of the various moods on the album into one track, features a beautifully intricate flute solo, and has passages that simply soar before taking you back down into a mellow place. There is one hell of a lot packed into a mere five and a half minutes. Not very far behind is the incredibly lovely epilogue, Toast Proposal, which closes the album, five minutes of unplugged heaven with some lovely vocals, lyrics, and playing.

Original and extremely good, this has to be one of the strongest debuts by an outfit in many years, I have no hesitation in awarding a very strong four stars. Would they manage to keep this going on the follow-up? I am glad to say in advance of my next review that the answer is absolutely, and then some.

My thanks to Alex for introducing me to this wonderful band.

To close, Romanian Prog anyone? Well, as the late, great, Alan "Fluff" Freeman would surely have said if he had heard this great album - "not 'alf!!"

lazland | 4/5 |

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