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Audience - The House On The Hill CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.89 | 101 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars In the vein of acts like Traffic and Gnidrolog, Audience combines the natural feeling of styles of folk and blues and the more musically engaging styles of jazz and classical. It's prog rock in a non-traditional stance, and that's what makes HOUSE ON THE HILL as exciting as other proggier albums.

Think of Audience as Gnidrolog's rhythm section (that good) with Van der Graaf Generator's woodwinds and a unique lead singer with a distinctive voice and plays strictly acoustic guitars. The delicacy of the acoustic guitars mixed in with the thrust of everything makes a near perfect sound balance that few can match. Maybe that explains the relative obscurity of Audience; the sound, while great, was hard to categorise, and that seems to have made it difficult for Audience to achieve even cult status.

On this particular album, the North Americans again get the better bargain much like on MOONTAN. Sure, Europe got the snappy ''Eye to Eye'', a great song in its own right and better than ''It Brings a Tear'', but the order on the NA release is better. I know there isn't much of a difference, but ''Indian Summer'' does not sound like a track that should close the record; it opens the record on the NA release, much more suitably too. The slow moving yet epic ''Jackdaw'' doesn't sound like an opener to me. I know I'm being nitpicky, but still?

HOUSE ON THE HILL can thrust power when it needs to; the title track is a perfect fusion of blues, rock and folk with an extended jam session at the right spot. The saxophone solo with two echoes is quite imaginative, and it's a few years before Mr. Freddie tried that when singing about prophets. There are also calmer, quieter bits as offsets. The beautiful rendition of Screamin' Jay's ''I Put a Spell on You'' is a slice of freshness to a normally sinister piece (it still kind of sounds that way), and classical buffs will enjoy the interceding orchestra on ''Raviole''.

There are times when HOUSE ON THE HILL compromises the two dynamic levels. ''You're Not Smiling'' executes this near flawlessly. The softness of the verses crescendoing into that haunting vocal/sax line is pure music euphoria.

It's hard to rate an album like HOUSE ON THE HILL on a prog site, but it belongs here and it's one of the better albums of this genre. The country-fied ''Nancy'' is the only blemish I could find (either version, it's on both), and even then, Howard Werth's vocal delivery saves the song. Highly recommended.

Sinusoid | 4/5 |


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