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Pendragon - The Window Of Life CD (album) cover

THE WINDOW OF LIFE

Pendragon

 

Neo-Prog

3.89 | 346 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the strength of their comeback album in The World after a lackluster performance on Kowtow (they actually considered changing their name to Kowtow), they returned to the studio and in 1993 released The Window of Life. Now the group still hadn't reached the cult status they achieved until 1996 when they released The Masquerade Overture, but this album acts as an... excuse the bad pun... an overture to The Masquerade Overture. The keyboards are lush and diverse, the guitars are soaring, searing, and emotional, the drums and bass are precise and dynamic. This album has it all, but it is only marred by a few miniscule things.

The 6 songs of the album all show (sometimes in a subtle manner, sometimes more outright) the influence of certain bands over Pendragon's main sound, but no song really shows that influence more than The Walls of Babylon. The introduction to this song sounds like a modern version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, with an extensive guitar solo with varying organ chords underneath it. After about 5 minutes of soloing, though, the song really gets cooking. A strong hooking chorus and some great riffing from Barrett keep the listener in for the full 10 minutes of it. Ghosts has some great piano and keyboard work from Clive Nolan, who always seems to keep himself busy with some kind of subtle work with every project he works with. Some emotional acoustic guitar work from Barrett and some solid work from Gee and Smith round out this track. The dynamic synthesizer work towards the end works well with the wah-washed guitar of Barrett and the mellotron-esque choirs. Not the strongest track on the album, but not a bad track at all.

Breaking the Spell begins with some simple yet effective keyboard from Nolan and some swelling leads from Barrett during the first vocal section. Searing and emotional leads from Barrett are highlights of this track. The Last Man on Earth is as fellow reviewer stonebeard said, "I'll emphasize: "The Last Man on Earth" is Pendragon's "Supper's Ready". A sprawling 15 minute epic that begins quietly with a nice piano motif from Nolan and emotional vocals from Barrett. One can hear the despair and sadness in Barrett's voice as he recites the moody lyrics that are filled with melancholy. A great riff and instrumental breakdown occurs from the 8:30 mark and really takes the listener on a ride of well timed guitar chords and nice double bass from Smith, as well as some well placed harmonica (courtesy of Simon Forster). Expect very dynamic and Tony Banks-esque keyboards from Nolan, Gilmour-esque guitar from Barrett, and some solid and precision rhythm work from Gee and SmithThe showpiece of the album and one of my personal favorite Pendragon's songs.

Nostradamus (Stargazing) is a bit of a throwaway number, and one of the weaker tracks on the album. About 2:30 of guitar noodling before anything really happens, this track seems more like filler than anything else. Am I Really Losing You? has single potential written all over it. Interesting synthesizers gently add layer upon layer of soft textures underneath Barrett's gentle vocals. Again, Barrett's sadness can be heard in the vocals, which while not the best, are better than any average vocalist. A triumphant yet emotional solo rounds out this song that brings this album to a wonderful close.

In the end, Pendragon's The Window of Life is an interesting look into the group before they hit their break (at least in the neo prog scene) with the Masquerade Overture. I really enjoy this album a lot, there's a lot of variety in the songs and there's a lot of creativity in every second of every song. The thing is, though, that this album simply isn't as good as The Masquerade Overture. They are very close to each other in quality in my opinion, though. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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