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Steve Thorne - Into the Ether CD (album) cover

INTO THE ETHER

Steve Thorne

 

Crossover Prog

3.86 | 24 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars I have a soft spot for this relatively obscure neo-prog artist, his first 3 albums (including this one) are all quite splendid and have been rated nicely. Strange that he is not more well-known because he is a wonderful vocalist, great song writer and surrounds himself with the cream of prog session players (Gavin Harrison, , Pete Trewavas, John Giblin , Nick D'Virgilio, Tony Levin, Gary Chandler, Martin Orford, Geoff Downes, John Jowitt etc...) . He should rate as high as Fish but doesn't have the Dickman's credentials. But think Sean Filkins or even Guy Manning and you get the idea. Both "Emotional Creatures" albums were loaded up with crafty little nuggets, well sung and well played, often memorable. The course has been set for another thoroughly infectious series of progressive songs, not the most intricate stuff around but done to neo-prog perfection. Each song has its own 2 pages in the magnificent booklet with an eloquent photo that does the music enormous justice.

The robust "Kings of Sin" platforms some pressing vocal despair from Thorne, featuring Nick flailing on drums, the master Tony Levin bossing his distinguished bass and Arena's John Mitchell rubbing his guitar. The song's lyrics refer to the hedonistic rock n roll lifestyle of It Bites, progressive sex for the progressive members of this famed progressive band (see photo).

The flimsy "Feathers" is more of a mid-tempo rocker with Jadis' Chandler at the wah-wah guitar stand and Trewavas rumbling his bass along for the ride, a poppy tune with a hugely infectious chorus , a pleasant affair dealing with the fragility of human veils and social mists. Breezy "drivin' down the highway on a sunshiny day" type of feel, a fluttering feather as a side dish. .

"Paper Tiger" is a killer tune, with my revered John Giblin on his patented fretless leading the way, a subtle and gorgeous melody and Thorne showing off some decent pipes especially evident with the colossal chorus. John Beck (It Bites) fiddling with his ivories only add to the suave mood. Steve handles the dripping axe lead rather well, oozing with the appropriate amount of despair and agony. Well done pop-prog !

This is followed by the murky genius of the title track with Nick and Tony laying down a steely, concrete rock foundation for Thorne to exercise his considerable vocal talent, lathering some heady keys and guitars into the mix. Levin's stalking bass is a joy to observe, a four stringed maniac weaving his seductive 'basso profundo' charm. The singing is both angry and anguished, providing some obligatory goose bumps. The pic is spell binding as well.

For those who are uninspired by the numb cold world we live in, the poignancy of "Granite Man" will hit home, as the photo in the booklet depicts some despondent , silver-bearded shaggy man lying on a what seems to be a fountain's pedestal. Gavin proves his massive international fame with some stellar stick work. Amazing again!

"Black Dahlia" is a neo-prog take on the famous Hollywood murder/mystery that continues to fascinate after decades of awareness (songs, books, movies) , the contrast between the sweet and the acrid is quite obvious, a trickily swerving chorus increases the essence of this brooding subject matter, the synths playing the role of seductive horror as if a soundtrack , once again showing the smarts behind the craft, This is no ordinary pop world, not by a longshot as the man is a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist of considerable talent. To prove that his currency is definitely current, the next one, "Sons of Tomorrow" is a rather bleak admittance of where our collective future lies, as politicians play with our lives, sending young eager men to die eagerly, for some oblique "oily" cause. Steve, reading history is like watching a yo-yo, only the killing technology has evolved, while our minds have withered. This can be seen in our new found oxymoronic words such as "smart bombs", "politically correct", "weapons of mass destruction" and "seeing eye drones". To quote Calvin" "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us" .

"Valerie" is the customary love ballad, sweet fragility and sheer loveliness, the accordion adding a nice spice. This is a welcome diversion.

The depressive "Victims" is back to the apocalyptic stupidity of our daily routine, victimized by the fast rat-race we all are asked to live, "not knowing the difference between right or wrong anymore, the sense of being alone, human life is cheap, we are all victims that's for sure". Musically, the production is cinemascopic and embellishes the material to a polished degree. Lennon said "All You Need is Love". Yeah, right !

"The End" is the only weak tune here but the photo of lemming-like precipice jumping is shocking, a gripping acceptation of evil (live backwards) in our routine existence, as if welcoming the release from daily bondage without compromise, austere but bona fide.

After the end, there is the red velvet drape, in a heavily gilded and ornamental theatre of the absurd, the spotlight slowly ebbing in intensity, ready to bud farewell. Forlorn melancholy ??

Over the course of 3 albums, Thorne has showed consistency, the next one may be a masterpiece.

4 Crimson Felt curtains

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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