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Epignosis - Refulgence CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.90 | 31 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Uplifting and engaging

"Refulgence" is the latest release from North Carolina's Robert Brown, whose progressive rock project goes by the name Epignosis. Robert is a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer who has released two prog rock albums to date. This one includes even more involvement from his wife and vocal partner, Tasha. I've always resisted reviewing the work of fellow Collaborators/friends at the site wondering how objective I could be, but I simply had to break my own rule in order to register my feelings on this wonderful music. So consider that your full disclosure if you give a rip about such things. I'll be as objective as I can be as my friend Robert would desire that. I need to begin on a personal note. The lyrical themes of Refulgence celebrate Christ as well as personal struggle. In the past I have viewed Christian lyrics with some derision, and I've shared some of this with Robert at one point. Whether he knew it or not he is one of the people who helped turn my heart to be more accepting and even welcoming of such lyrics in music. I consider the lyrics to be something inviting and comforting here despite being a person fairly lost in the spiritual sense. And I'm amazed how well they work here in marriage with the music.

Refulgence mixes symphonic prog rock with occasional Southern rock sensibilities for a unique sound. The keyboard rich album features airy atmospheres in the background, peaceful, tranquil, over which he dives head over heels with my favorite instrument, piano. There are many nice piano moments throughout and despite being grabbed by that I acknowledge it is the guitar where Robert truly excels. Lush acoustic guitars join the keyboards to create this fertile atmosphere for the frequent and passionate electric leads. Brown has tremendous "instinct" for what sounds good during his solos, bypassing theatrics for the kind of sound and melodies that are simply pleasurable to take in. It's not a complicated equation; he plays for his listener rather than trying to impress anyone. It is without question what drew me in initially. Robert is not as masterful a drummer as he is a guitarist and that is my biggest complaint here, that the music is sold a bit short by drumming that feels "stiff" or perhaps just not as convincing as they could be. Certainly it is passable and did not ruin anything for me but I would have preferred a solid drummer to the programmed and live drumming here.

The highlights begin with a short intro of an oscillating effect that feels dizzying, spacey, and for me represents feeling lost. Soon there is a comforting piano part providing solace before it dramatically bursts into the epic 17 minute centerpiece. The title track introduces recurring themes and features multiple sections quite successfully. The wonderfully proggy (sorry, I know some people hate that word) early moments feature some Howe-esque volume pedal (I think) work that instantly reminded me of classic-era Yes. Knowing Robert loves Topographic Oceans as I do, this made me smile instantly wondering if any of Refulgence was inspired by Howe. From there a mellow acoustic section leads into a rocking section which I found to be somewhat countrified or perhaps that Southern rock feel I mentioned, with relaxed rock vocal lines and nice catchy verses. Things build and around the 12 minute mark there is a return of an early theme which then soars upward into a glorious sounding exaltation of unified synths, guitars, and a wordless choir-like vocal part. It sounds like a "column" of music, not unlike the dramatic section of "Don't Fear the Reaper." This is really impressive. Mellower section returns and there is a nice guitar solo on the track. There are a number of shorter songs which follow and while I'm not going into all of them individually, each is quite consistent and enjoyable. I've not heard the first album in a while so I won't compare the two, but I can say there is a noticeable improvement in overall production value/sound quality. I think its safe to say this set has a more dynamic feel overall, it has a fire in the belly.

Robert's wife Tasha Brown (or Tasha Nichole?? different names on each album PA entry) plays a greater role on this second effort and her lovely voice is most welcome. Whether harmonizing or singing a lead part she adds much to Refulgence. This brings me to my other favorite part of Refulgence which is the heartwarming closer "Fade." It's a gorgeous piano ballad of a central melody with Tasha singing beautifully over Robert's gentle piano. Everything falls away to what matters: a sincere, inviting, and most comforting offering in song: "Jesus is the light, Jesus is the light, and he can make you a mirror by his perfect grace." It connects back to the title track and the album art for a very satisfying conclusion. I'm a conservative rater who would have to go 3 stars for the overall album, although the long and very satisfying title track is a solid 4 stars. Bravo my friend and thanks for an album that makes me feel better.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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