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Cirrus Bay - A Step Into Elsewhere CD (album) cover

A STEP INTO ELSEWHERE

Cirrus Bay

 

Neo-Prog

3.75 | 64 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Cirrus Bay is a US duo that relies on a rather well travelled prog road, a pastoral, meandering symphonic highway that features the multi-instrumentalist talents of Bill Gillham, who shines on guitar and keys and Mark Blasco who holds down the bass and the drums. The Renaissance mould of heavenly female lead vocals is the main drawing point, so any hints of Annie Haslam are well-founded, as both Sharra Acle and Anisha Gillham supply some wondrous vocalizing. This means that it will take quite a few spins before this one soaks in. The opening 13 minute 'Serenity in a Nutshell' sets to define their style right from the get go with plenty of acoustic guitar driven interventions that harkens back to Ant Phillips-era Genesis, carpeted by some deft keyboard sonics that supply flute- like timbres that challenge the senses. The raging lead guitar outro is amiably intense, catching you somewhat off guard in a most satisfying manner. 'Out of the Cold' is more immediate, a slight country feel due to the twangy guitars (with a little slide work to boot) which to this reviewer sounds a tad hokey but that's my bias talking again and it's a short track anyway. Cirrus Bay is way more interesting when the tone becomes serious or even somber like on 'the Exposure of Truth', a piece that combines breezy airs and strange odd sweeps during its 9 minute run. The brash 'Walking In Shadows' gets heavy and its delicious, way moodier and the rough guitar makes it raucous in a good way. You would swear hearing an indie band demo, but the prog elements know how to come to the fore. A superb axe solo kills this one off. Love this track. No two tracks are similar up to now, the weird 'The Secret Country' tickles the edges of dissonance in its simplest form, mostly keyboard driven but they sound a little too plastic to make a huge impact, again its at least brief. The monstrous 'Zenobia' finishes this recording, a 16 minute symphonic exploration that relives the opener in style, this one even closer to the Genesis/Renaissance dynamics than ever, the radiant vocals almost jazzy in a way, lazing nicely amid the synth driven clouds. The bass /lead guitar parallels are impressive; the explosive mid-section first provides accordion-like tones that come well invited and then evolves into a full lead blowout that is staggering. More please!. A ragtime piano does wonders as well, playful bunch!

In the end, it must be said that there is definite talent here but leaves a sense of under accomplishment, sort of a 'could have been even better' feel that will not disappear with repeated listens. A darker production would have helped immeasurably as it's a tad too pristine and at times, even robotic. 3.5 cloudy inlets

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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