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Rick Wakeman - No Earthly Connection CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.74 | 242 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having momentarily run out of historical and literature-related themes, Wakeman went for the ambitious peaks of metaphysics: the concept of "No Earthly Connection" is an observation about the musical essence of the human soul, providing a perspective about mankind's ideal goals, dark side, spiritual connections and recurring failures to achieve a genuine greatness. Given the cosmic-and-almost-religious nature of the concept, it is no wonder that the instrumentation gets very based on Moog layers in so many occasions, while the lyrics put a particular emphasis get solemn, at times even getting really hopeless from an existentialist perspective. Lyrics are actually quite abundant, regarding the wide array of instrumental passages that usually occupy the Wakeman repertoire - it seems like our keyboard wizard had so much to say and explain in this introspective journey into the fields of music-centered anthropology. Ashley Holt really shines here, making good use of his rock-vibrating vocal cadence, while drummer Tony Fernandez makes a more-than-spectacular debut in the world of Wakeman. The 5-part 'Music Reincarnate' suite works as the album's nuclear core. Parts I and V are the longest ones, either anticipating or reprising some of the motifs developed in the three intermediate parts. My favourite sections are 'The Maker' and 'The Spaceman': the former shows a fluid juncture of meditative beautiful melodic lines, while the former shows the rockier side of Wakeman in an effective fusion of energy and elegance. 'The Realisation' wanders through the path of melancholy blues, with added touches of symphonic prog provided by the mellotron and horns in a delicate interaction. From now on, the album will step into the realms of pessimism never to get out of it again. 'The Prisoner' is my fave track in the album. This energetic portrait of the evil that men do and the punishment they are bound to receive for it both in this world and the afterworld is an example of Wakeman's ability to translate the majestic energy of classical music into a rock context. The song is not that fast, really, but it surely rocks - before I got to know this song for the first time, I couldn't imagine that a harpsichord could be used as real rock instrument while preserving its own idiosyncratic sonic source. The well-oiled ensemble of guitar, bass, drum kit and brass duet works efficiently in perfect harmony with Wakeman's mellotron layers and Moog leads, all the way through until the fiery climax - meanwhile, Holt does a beautiful job, managing to make those horrible, implacable words of eternal condemnation sound actually captivating. The closing track fully retakes the Moog-centered sound delivered in most sections of the 'Music Reincarnate' suite. It is built on a similar tempo to that of 'The Prisoner', so it makes the album seem like it's wearing out a little bit toward the end. All in all, it's a good prog symphonic song that accomplishes the mission of completing the pessimistic observation about man's potential to destroy the world he lives in and should protect instead. It also contains some of the most amazing grand piano passages in the album, as well as the bizarre inclusion of an upright piano in the instrumental interlude. The almost sinister mixture of keyboard layers and chorale in the final moments of 'The Lost Cycle' serves a proper ending for this excellent album. Although, generally speaking, it doesn't match the majesty of the predecessor "King Arthur" or the non-immediate successor "Criminal Record", it remains one of Wakeman's most notable efforts in his abundantly prolific career.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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