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Comedy Of Errors - Fanfare & Fantasy CD (album) cover

FANFARE & FANTASY

Comedy Of Errors

 

Neo-Prog

4.10 | 354 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars "Matters our actions, more than our years"

Having taken several decades(!) to release their first album, "Fanfare and fantasy" is Comedy of Error's second album in as many years. Since the release of "Disobey" in 2011, Bruce Levick has become a full band member has become a full band member, with John Fitzgerald also joining the line up. Fitzgerald joined late in the recording of the album, so his contribution is limited to backing vocals here, but he is now fully installed as the band's bassist. The founding trio of Joe Cairney, Jim Johnston and Mark Spalding remains intact, with Johnston once again writing all the material.

While "Disobey" was a landmark album of "neo-prog", "Fanfare and Fantasy" takes a more symphonic approach, the nine magnificent tracks here being carefully crafted masterpieces of the genre. While there is a wonderful familiarity in the style of the music, it is actually rather difficult to offer comparisons or to cite influences. At times there is a Pendragon feel in the lush keyboards, the superb lead guitar solos and indeed in the vocal style. At the same time though, one could mention bands such as Yes, Genesis, Camel etc., but all the while there is something different and refreshing about what we hear that offers genuine excitement.

In terms of the songs themselves, each stands alone as a symphonic masterpiece; collectively they form a truly wonderful whole. Lyrically too, Johnston has clearly spent many hours crafting each piece. "The cause" for example highlights the ubiquitous blight of religious divide. While the song clearly describes the problems that afflict his home country, the song remains the same the world over. The power and depth of the album, both lyrically and musically, is never more acute than it is here.

A cursory glance at the track listing by a prog fan may lead to a focusing on the three 9+ minute tracks but in reality all nine of the songs here are prog epics. Looking at the other long tracks though ("The cause" is mentioned above), "Fanfare for the broken hearted" makes for the ideal opener, building from a fine a cappella introductory vocal by Joe Cairney through every more uplifting lead guitar (Mark Spalding) and dazzling synth bursts (Jim Johnston). "The answer" closes the set with a suitably anthemic atmosphere, cumulating in an early Genesis style mellotron finale.

"Time's motet and Galliard" is interesting in that it is a two part piece with a traditional feel. The first part, "Time's motet" is a delightful instrumental, apparently dothing a cap to the 16th century composer Thomas Tallis. This becomes the folk influenced "Galliard", a fine Strawbs like number with mellotron style synths.

Completing the set, we have "Something she said", a 7 minute piece that sets out with something of a Yes feel, including Wakeman style organ. Here we are also treated to a wonderful blend of Emerson style keyboards and Pendragon-esque lead guitar. Try hard as I might to resist singling tracks out, this is a truly wonderful composition. "Going for a song" contrasts a distinctly upbeat melody with some decidedly stark lyrics. Johnston's Tony Banks like keyboard bursts punctuate the searing guitar and synth interludes and layers of chorale keyboards. "In a lifetime", "Merry dance" and "Remembrance" are the three shorter songs, but each nonetheless stands as a mini prog epic.

I am aware that I may appear to be overdoing the superlatives here. Believe me though, this is a truly special album. Anyone with a love of traditional prog would be well advised to partake of its delights, you will not be disappointed.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |

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