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Colin Masson - The Southern Cross CD (album) cover

THE SOUTHERN CROSS

Colin Masson

 

Crossover Prog

3.56 | 31 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
3 stars Sailing seas of melody

Colin Masson, most well known as the guitarist in the English prog folk band The Morrigan, has been making waves in the progressive community with his now three solo efforts. His third album, The Southern Cross, carries a similar style as his previous albums, with a more atmospheric and melodic feel. Taking as much influence from Celtic folk rock as he does from his obvious main influence Mike Oldfield, Masson produces a very relaxing and enjoyable ride across the seas of this hour long record. The album itself has interesting story, to boot. Originally written and recorded in the mid-80s on a low-fi 4-track, the music sat in his back catalogue until he acquired proper means to record it professionally, which today is far easier to procure. So, in 2011 he set out re-recording the near-30 year old compositions again, sprucing them up and filling them in with modern spice. The album doesn't end as just some old songs, however, as, true to progressive style, it has an accompanying concept. The album is the story of two ships, the original Southern Cross that sets sail somewhere in the 18th century, and a starship that has an encounter with a black hole about a thousand years later. The two ships, as Masson himself puts it, meet a "sticky end," which is explored throughout the album.

The album is very much rooted in melody and atmosphere, two components Masson is no stranger to, as they were also the main ingredients in his 2009 album The Mad Monk and the Mountain. This album, however, takes on a more nautical overtone, coinciding with the theme of the album. The wave-like rhythmic patterns create a sense of a ship rocking across the seas, ranging from calm waters to stormy breakers. This atmosphere, mixed with a very Oldfield-esque folky melodic structure, makes for a very calm and relaxed album throughout.

The second "side" of the album (noted by the "record flip" track) notes a significant shift in style on the album. Now that the ocean vessel "The Southern Cross" has been exchanged for the intergalactic space cruiser, a more fast-paced and streamlined sound is taken on. Throughout this side a very clean feel as taken on, as if the space cruiser is making its way through the airwaves of this album's sound. The futuristic atmosphere in the three songs on this side enhances this experience, making the listener feel like he too is exploring the inner depths of space along with the space ship's crew. In a near psychedelic feel, Masson's various instrumental textures give the album an appearance, one of abstract wonder and mystery, which truly paves the way for this album's prowess as a smooth, calming exploration of Masson's musical vision.

In the end the album is a truly wonderful ride. The music, as old and "dated" as it is, retains a modern and accessible touch. Masson's self-production is well-done and professional despite the fact that the studio was Masson's bedroom. The concept, although it isn't the most developed story ever to exist, is creative and adds a nice dynamic to the album. The instrumentation is intimate and folky, preying on Masson's roots as a folk musician and his obvious Mike Oldfield influence. Overall, Masson has produced a very good record, with plenty of memorable melodies and a very beautiful atmosphere. Again he has shown he is no stranger to well-made music, and I will certainly look forward to more material from Mr. Masson. 3+ stars.

Andy Webb | 3/5 |

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