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Chroma Key - Dead Air for Radios CD (album) cover

DEAD AIR FOR RADIOS

Chroma Key

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.05 | 147 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

KansasRushDream
5 stars Thanks to www.chromakey.com, I was able to extensively explore this album (along with all his others) before decideing to purchase it. Let me just say that I had mixed emotions at first. I am a huge, HUGE Kevin Moore fan. I loved his work with Dream Theater so much that I knew I had to find out more about Chroma Key. When I finally got to hear one of the songs though, I was dumbfounded. Totally not what I expected at all. In fact, I was even disappointed. I thought "what a waste his talent has gone to now that he's on his own and away from Dream Theater." However, I decided that I should go out on a limb and against every ounce of sense in my mind, and I bought "Dead Air for Radios." Note, I HATE Pink Floyd with a passion, and since this music is the same genre, I was definitely scared when I made the purchase.

So the package finally came in the mail, and I popped the CD into my PC's CD Drive. Colorblind was at the top of the list, so I began with it of course. As soon as it started, I thought "oh my gosh I made a mistake." I must admit that I can be very quick to judge at times. Both clean and distorted, Kevin's voice did not attract me at all. The song was also very boring. I was doing various things on my PC in the meantime, and the entire song went by as a blur (as well as the rest of the CD). When Colorblind poped back on, I thought "wow I don't remember anything about this entire CD." Sadly, I popped it out and let it sit for a while on a shelf. However, I eventually decided to give it another chance and devote my full attention to it (which I have learned to do with every new CD now). Let's just say I was amazed. "Dead Air for Radios" was amazing! You really have to pay attention to the minute details of the songs or it will quite often just come over as abstract noise. So now with a new perspective and new appreciation of this CD, I began delving into what is now one of my favorite CDs of all time (although I still don't get who people love Pink Floyd so much).

"Colorblind" is a wonderful track. It is a soft, moody entrance to the CD, and really gets the listener into the correct state of mind to enjoy the rest of the disc. Kevin begins with a very short musical intro featuring pulsating and etheral synths, then introduces his distorted vocals. He then transitions into clean vocals accompanied by nice piano work. It is a very dark sounding song that climaxes at the vocal bridge of sorts. Kevin ascends into his upper range, and the music lowers to almost a whisper behind him. The combination of vocals and music in this part of the song really create that "feeling" inside of you (you all know what I mean I'm sure, I just don't know how to describe it. It's like as if you are emotionally moved by it, but in reality not really...). He then goes back down to his lower pitch again, but with vocal distortion, then resorts back to the chorus, followed by a soft and long-toned piano lead. Overall the song very straightforward and the chorus is heard multiple times before the end, but there's something about it that attracts the ear. It has yet to get old in my own ear, and is one of the best tracks that the CD offers.

"Even the Waves" is transitioned into unnoticably, but the style and mood change dramatically. The intro of this song features a nice midrange piano line which is later accompanied by Kevin's melodic vocals. Bass (played by Kevin as well), drums, and guitar enter the song eventually as well. This is once again a very simple song, with a dark mood, melodic vocals, and straightforward music. "Even the Waves" is good, though not one of the real stellar works of the album.

The CD abruptly transitions into the third track, "Undertow." This is another dark, moody tune, though actually very upbeat though it doesn't seem like it unless you really think about it. The piano sounds used in this song are top notch. Joey Vera makes his entrance to the album on bass, and plays a very prominent part that really sets the mood of the track. Kevin's vocals are great on this song. They blend with the music exceptionally well; an almost perfect combination. The drums, simple that they may be, really work wonders in the background. The song also features a nice piano solo of sorts, but don't expect any shredding lines like when he was with Dream Theater. It (like every solo and musical aspect of this album is moody and melodic). "Undertow" is quite possibly the best song on the album.

"America the Video" is essentially prog pop. Something about the vocal line utilizing falsetto harmonies as well as falsetto background lines seems very popish in my mind. Kevin ascends to his upper range once more quite often on this song, and once again his vocals work magnificently with the song's mood. This is really the first bright song of the album. It features Joey Vera once again on bass, as well as some nice simple drumming. This song is the most different track on the entire album, because of how popish it feels. It is a gem however, no matter how popish it may be. It really attracts the ear in a unique way.

The fifth song, "S.O.S.", has a nice piano intro that sort of reminds me of a Styx/Steve Walsh fusion of sorts. When I hear it, I always think of Styx for some reason, but it also reminds me of something Steve Walsh would play. "S.O.S." features prominent guitar work much like "America the Video" does, and in fact the two songs are quite similar in style although "S.O.S." is not as popish. There isn't much to the song lyrically, and it is definitely my least favorite song vocally on the album. The vocal line is not very interesting at all and almost too quiet at times compared to the sustained guitar chords. This is the worst song on the album that actually has vocals. It's a decent work, but nothing all to special.

"Camera 4" is an instrumental of sorts, though it utilizes a lot of "conversational dialogue" (the same style that can be found on Dream Theater's "Awake" album). The voices heard in "Space-Dye Vest" on "Awake" are the exact same style as the ones used here. The electric drum beat and background synth noise doesn't create much of a melody, and this song is not really entertaining to listen to. Maybe Pink Floyd fans might want to lend an ear to it, but I personally don't care for it much.

I guess "Camera 4" was the peace before the storm. The next song, "On the Page", is the definitive track of the album. Kevin has even stated that it is essentially the sequel of his masterpiece "Space-Dye Vest." The lyrical content seems similar enough, and the style of the song is almost identical. The only difference is that the vocals are more bright and the moving piano line is quite rapid. This song shows that Kevin's skills on the keys have not deteriorated a bit since his departure from Dream Theater. The end of "On the Page" even makes me think of the ending of "Space-Dye Vest", only more bright and faster-paced. The piano work is the real attraction of this song, and it delivers a phenominal experience that is an instant classic.

"Mouse (Now Watch What Happens)" begins with the mutterings of a voice on an answering machine regarding a mouse's presence which seems to be tormenting the speaker. After multiple derrogatory terms aimed at the rodent, the voice finally tells the listener to "now watch what happens." The music then enters and the song essentially begins. Kevin's vocals can be described as nothing other than haunting. Something about the combination of his pitch choice and the vocal distortion he uses makes him sound almost tormented. The music creates a dramatic mood in the background as well, creating a very intense style. The original speaker's mutterings can sparatically be heard throughout the entire song. The chorus has almost a techno feel to it, and it really changes the mood. The end of the song features a moving piano line that changes the mood of the song once again, and then the song ends with the noise of an answering machine's beep.

The album's final song, "Hell Mary" is..... how should I say this......... horrible. In my own words, it is "Pink Floyd meets Mr. Speak and Spell." There is no real music to speak of, no melody or anything; just a low droning pitch accompanied by sparatic descriptions of the sun by a computer-like voice. That's the entire song. It goes on for a painful four minutes and two seconds. Why is this song on here? I have no clue and in my opinion it tarnishes a wonderful masterpiece. Once again, maybe you Pink Floyd buffs can get something out of it, but in my opinion it's just noise (and annoying noise at that).

Even with the abomination to music known as "Hell Mary", "Dead Air for Radios" is a true masterpiece of prog music. This (in my opinion at least) is the pinnacle of its genre. Dream Theater fans BEWARE! This is probably not for you! Visit the Chroma Key website for sure before buying this album or you may be very disappointed. However, for fans of a very emotional and moody work, this album is phenominal. Kevin Moore's musical and vocal performances are world-class. The only better prog composer I can think of that is better (and this is a tight race too!) is Arjen Anthony Luccassen (Ayreon). Overall, major props to Kevin for making a wonderful album.

KansasRushDream | 5/5 |

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