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LIFESIGNS

Lifesigns

 

Neo-Prog

3.93 | 198 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars I have never been on such a magical progressive journey, buying new releases that are simply stunning and forcing me to dish out five star ratings as if it were going out of style. The main attraction here is undoubtedly my new bass fiend Nick Beggs , who finally has the recognition after decades of silence perhaps due to his Kajagoogoo debut, what with his tortuous hair-do and all, as if that mattered! (If it does, go and flock a seagull!) . Beggs has graced albums by early Iona, recent Steve Hackett, the Kompendium project with Magenta's Rob Reed and Steve Wilson's current bass man. He is an English version of Tony Levin, playing fretless bass and stick like a true creative genius, with a profound predilection for seismic rumbles and slick technique loaded with feeling. John Young is also well- respected for playing with Fish, the Strawbs, John Wetton, the new Greenslade and solo outings, a talented ivory dervish and finally, Frosty Beedle who drummed with one of the more adventurous new wave bands Cutting Crew back in the mid-80s ('I Just Died in her Arms tonight' was a great song) as well as session/live drumming for a boat-load of well- known international artists. The attention to details is obvious with stellar production, spirited cover artwork and first-rate classy packaging.

First impression, there is a new Squire, Wakeman and Bruford trio out there in 2013, ably helped out by some dudes you may have heard of (Steve Hackett, Thijs Van Leer, Robin Boult and Jakko Jakczyk) . The music is vibrant, fresh, inspired and very prog! In fact, 'Fridge Full of Stars' will simply blow you away, as well as 'Carousel', two colossal and epic monster tracks that will 'out yes' Yes. I mean, that good, Guys= 'fly from THERE'! The other tracks are dazzling too, nothing under 8 minutes, BTW.

The nearly 13 minute 'Lighthouse' flings this disc straight into the progressive fire, a laser beam of sonic light piercing the shrouded mist, a beacon of things to come, full of adventure and solidity, as Beedle does his best Bruford wham-bam pushed along by Beggs' nimble low-end rumble. The mood for the day is prolific, Yes-ish, armed with slithering synths carving around that treble-heavy bass swirl. The main melody is straight-laced but passionately expressed, showing the first Genesis tendencies, especially in the mellow mid-section with some patented Hackett electric glides. The music displayed is symphonic, accessible, smooth, professional and exhilarating.

'Telephone' starts out like a Tony Levin-fueled Peter Gabriel-esque tune (think 'I Don't Remember'), a progressive pop song loaded with melodic beauty and beastly rhythm. Strictly fascinating, deeply engaging, almost breezy in a strange way, with eccentric and unexpectedly lush choir work and a general sense of effortlessness. Young unleashes a scintillating flurry of synth lines while doing a masterful job on lead vocals but Beggs' bass really rules the roost! The man is just incredible! Some lovely guitar phrasings (Boult or Jakczyk?) adorn the spectacle, stamping this majestic piece as a prog radio song 'par excellence'! A memorable performance and delicious track.

The impeccable 'Fridge Full of Stars' is the ultimate show-stopper, a bruising bulldozer of portentous sound, deeply progressive and audacious, decorated by tickling piano ivories, that scandalous brooding bass and a melody and a chorus to expire over. This has to rank among the best progressive tracks in the last 10 years, well-constructed and utterly enjoyable, superb vocals and crowned by a Thijs Van Leer flute extravaganza that permits a crazy Hackett guitar solo that sears and scars profoundly! My goodness! I caught myself nervously laughing at this (a sign of edgy disbelief) every time I pressed on the repeat button. Gigantic, titanic, colossal, absurd and darn brilliant! 'Watching the world go by, a smile upon my face', indeed! Long suffering Yes fans would need copious amounts of diapers to overcome their joy at listening to such genius. Someone please send a copy to Squire and explain that this is what you should have been doing for the past 20 years. Open YOUR eyes, for Chris sakes!

The shortest track here at 8. 24 ,'At the End of The World' is just as delicious, a thoroughly ecstatic vocal performance with a laid-back groove that shows off their absolute restraint and eschewing any kind of overblown redundancy. This is far from bloated and overbearing, quite the contrary, a mesmerizing piano-led arrangement that seeps deep into the soul, gearing up for a windswept synth solo that will elicit wide grins and a proper sense of reverence. The oft-repeated chorus of 'the end of the world' holds little doom, just the usual human predilection for trepidation and negativity. It's all coated in some positive vibes. Now how cool is that?

'Carousel' as the name implies will serve only to come back to the beginning and listen to this beast again and again, round and round we go, to our delirious pleasure. Swirly determination, bold affirmation of chops with that mixture of furious bass and that booming organ sound, the arrangement finding itself close to the edge and yet not all that fragile (punster!), glittering piano rifling along, hard-nosed drum support and Peter Gabriel-like melodies that will adhere to your skull for evermore. Luxuriant, lush and lusty, the stunning mood just careens along at a brisk but thoroughly controlled pace, further proof of these veterans possessing mastery over their respective instruments. Upon finishing the audition, you will feel refreshed, amazed, spellbound and excited. Music can do that you know, a feel good exploration of bliss.

Fans of the Flower Kings will adore this new contributor to the scene, hopefully one that will yield many more exemplary albums in the future. Together with Comedy of Errors' recent colossus, British prog is doing quite well, thank you! A total keeper, a future classic.

5 shy shy pulses

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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