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Epignosis - Still the Waters CD (album) cover

STILL THE WATERS

Epignosis

Symphonic Prog


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MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is one of the most special albums I own, and easily in my top 3 Symphonic Prog albums ever. If you do not have this, get it.

From the moment I first heard this album, I knew that it was going to take that place in my collection. It is evident immediately that Robert put his heart and soul into this album for years, and the end result is nothing short of magnificent.

1. Still the Waters- A wonderful start to the album, with plenty of epic acoustic and electric guitar work by Robert. I was heavily impressed. There are TONS to love here, from the touching intro, great vocals, and plenty of moments filled with musical brilliance. As a fellow composer, I know how hard it is to create something that truly is capable of expressing certain emotions, but it has been accomplished here nicely. This song makes me feel every time. A touching masterpiece. 10/10

2. A Pearl in a Field- This is perhaps the most emotional song on here, and that really says something---as the album oozes it. This is perhaps the "sleeper" song of the album; I liked it the least after the first few listens, but later on it showed its hidden beauty. The keyboard tone here is especially awesome. 9/10

3. Move- Now here's the song that ALWAYS manages to get stuck in my head for days the most, and for good reason. Every section is wonderfully crafted; and it becomes evident on this song (like any other, but especially this one), that the production isn't "sleek" and stripped of its soul like many albums are anymore. No, this album's production has true soul to it, and I can feel that in every second. 9/10

4. An Everlasting Kingdom- Wow! The keyboards here... they're so beautiful. This is perhaps my favorite song, even if the epic closer technically out-performs it (somehow). Tasha and Robert's dueling vocals are nothing short of amazing. The lyrics continue to be on the spiritual side, and although I am an atheist---I find that this song especially holds a very special spiritual musical side to it that is stunning. 10/10

5. No Shadow of Turning- Here it is, the epic. And it does NOT disappoint! This is every progger's dream: every instrument is played with perfection, the song is soaked with mellotron, and the vocals are Robert's best performance on the album. I feel like I can't say anything about this song without repeating what I've already said---but if you're not convinced to buy this album by now, then I haven't done my job. Everything falls together perfectly here. Beyond the definition of what constitutes a masterpiece. 10+/10

This receives nothing short of my highest recommendation. One of the best albums of the decade, and one of the most touching and beautiful albums I've ever heard.

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Send comments to MovingPictures07 (BETA) | Report this review (#225275)
Posted Wednesday, July 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Finally, Epignosis is on the 'chives! It's about time I had the chance to give this album all the praise it so genuinely deserves.

Multi-instrumentalist Robert W. Brown, Jr. has debuted with a true classic: STILL THE WATERS.

First thing's first: yes, this is a Christian album of sorts, no it does NOT shove the beliefs down the listeners' throats. Yes, I am friendly with Robert, no, I am NOT simply giving this album a good rating because I like the guy; I am very honest in my opinions on things. I'm not afraid to say if something sucks regardless of who is behind it. STILL THE WATERS is truly just as great as I have rated here in this review, you can count on it.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let's get on with the actual review.

---

The album begins with the title track, ''Still the Waters'', my personal favorite track on the album. It starts off as an ambient lead in to something you know is going to be much bigger, then a soaring Electric Guitar solo explodes onto the scene. Honestly, I don't hear any other direct influences spilling through, here. It is all Robert; the style of his lead playing is very original and moving. Wonderful. After the intro, some truly beautiful yet simple Acoustic Guitar serves as the rhythm while Robert sings the first lines of the song, ''Be still, you waters.''. For Bible readers, it is obvious what is being referred to here, especially when he elaborates further by speaking of ''His only Son''. Again, the Christian message us clear on the record, but I never felt like Robert was trying to 'force-feed' his personal beliefs upon me as I listened to the music; he just loves writing and singing about his faith, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The song continues for a Chorus or two, before easing into a hauntingly beautiful Synth solo around the 3:11 mark (EDIT: Robert has since informed me that this solo is actually an Electric Guitar, as is the one around the 4:10 point. I assume he used a volume swell + reverb effect to get that 'Synth' quality to it). When I heard this solo, I knew at that point I would love this album. It is sometimes the simplest and most honest musical moments that can 'make' an album, and this moment truly 'made' STILL THE WATERS for me. I honestly got chills at this point in the song.

Pretty soon, some really solid Electric Guitar comes in, this time serving as Rhythm and not Lead, while a cleaner electric lead takes over. After that an Organ section freshens things up a bit before the first yet another Guitar Solo. I know it sounds like a helluva lot of solos and lead sections, but honestly, it's part of the charm of this record. It identifies is as a Robert Brown album, and his style seems to be more lead-oriented than anything else. This makes for a very intriguing listen because it promises the listener will never get bored. The best moment of the song for me is the final Syntheziser solo, as it really feels like a musical representation of praise to me. See, this is why I despise most Gospel music; it has no soul to it, and all of it pretty much sounds the same, but Robert's special brand of musical worship truly moves me, and therefore I can appreciate something like ''Still the Waters'' a lot more than I could ever appreciate ''Bread of Life''.

5/5

---

The second song on the record, ''A Pearl in a Field'', doesn't really get going until the 1:34 point, with a riff that I think has the potential to become legendary in Prog history. I must confess, I hear a lot of Yes in this song, though I honestly have no idea if this was a conscious choice, though I seem to remember Robert telling me that he intentionally over-cranked the treble on his Bass on certain tracks to get that Chris Squire tone. Though not just in the sound of the instruments, but the composition, I can hear Yes influence. While I still really enjoy this song a lot, I personally don't find it as original as the previous one, even though there seems to be a lot more 'Prog' in it, what with the odd time sigs ans whatnot.

I think the highlight of the song is near four minutes in, where a superb Acoustic Guitar arpeggio is accompanied by an equally wonderful, light Piano section. Truly relaxing and uplifting at the same time. This particular part speaks to me the most I think because it is (to me) the least 'Yes-ish' area of the song, and has much more in common with Italian Prog in the vein of banco del mutuo soccorso than anything traditional. I think Robert should explore the lighter, more Classical direction in his music and take that a lot further the next time around, because he seems to be especially good at it, but hey, what do I know? It's just my suggestion.

4.5/5

---

And then we have ''Move''. This is probably my least favorite song on the record, but that is certainly not saying that it is 'bad', since I consider no song on this record to be under 3 stars in quality, but something about this track doesn't speak to me as closely as the others. It's a preference, ultimately, but I just don't find it as enjoyable as the rest. Maybe it's because I find it a bit slow paced for it's length, or perhaps the melodies aren't exactly my cup of tea, but regardless of all that, i still can't find any true fault in the song. I just happen to like it the least; I still like it. A lot.

And I also should point out that the song does go places musically. I mean, it's not like it stays repetetive and stagnant for eight whole minutes; it evolves and develops quite a bit. It's definately a 'builder', and it ultimately does become fairly fast-paced, but i personally feel like it takes a little too long before it becomes interesting, and by that time, some less-patient listeners may have either stopped paying attention, or skipped ahead to the next track. Overall, though, ''Move'' is a good track.

Also, I might add that the lyrics for this song are probably my favorite of all the lyrics on the record.

So . . .

Lyrics = 5/5 Music = 3/5.

Pretty good rating, I think.

---

''An Everlasting Kingdom'' - Right from the get go, this song is striking. I really like the opening riff; it puts me in mind of Gryphon. Soon, at about 1:11, a very spacey, soothing ambient section is introduced followed by some of the most beautiful Keyboards in modern Prog I have ever heard. Truly. I really like Robert's singing on the whole record, but the effects he has added to his voice on ''An Everlasting Kingdom'' are particularly affective and striking. Not to mention Tasha Brown's harmonies. All of these factors help the vocals on ''An Everlasting Kingdom'' be my personal favorites. So this track gets the 'best vocals' vote, but what of the music?

Well, for starters, the music is back on track, as far as I am concerned. Remember how I was praising (no pun intended) Robert's originality musically on the first track? Well, I again must say just how original and unique this track is compared to most other prog out there. I think tracks like this one that can give a true sense of an artists own particular 'sound' it needs to be celebratyed. How many times in the Pop world have we as listeners come across Beatles clones? How many times in modern Jazz-Rock has Miles Davis been ripped-off? Metal bands have been mimicking Metallica and Dream Theater for years, and plenty of Prog bands have made it a point to sound exactly like Genesis and/or Yes. Not so with Robert. He is a truly unique artist with his own style of music, and his imprint is as individual and specific as a fingerprint. This track, along with the first, fully solidify that fact. Nothing here sounds borrowed, heavily influenced or even tributed. It's all Robert, and nobody else.

Not only is the atmosphere and mood of the song the most beautiful, it also kicks into high gear at around five minutes and fifty seconds with a very off-beat, almost Jazzy breakdown that I absolutely adore. I think Robert said that he used a Drum Machine for his debut, but whatever it was, the Drums here are superb, and the most impressive Guitar solo on the entire record makes its appearance during this part of ''An Everlasting Kingdom'' as well. And let's not forget about the countless pro-level Keyboard leads found in the song. Again, a true testament to the originality of the music found here is that the Keyboard solos don't sound a thing like Rick Wakeman. While most new Symph Proggers would leap for the familiar or 'safe' direction when it comes to Keyboards, Robert chose to again show off just how great he can be without stealing others' styles.

All in all, I feel this song is representing an (Heavenly) existence beyond the time and space we as humans relate to; an existance that resides in a realm full of surprises we have yet to discover, and the mystical use of ambience and reverb definately helps that effect. Truly an amazing track, and my second favorite on the album. It kept me riveted all the way to the lovely Piano outro. Clocking it an a whopping 10:08 (By debut album standards, I consider that enormous), ''An Everlasting Kingdom'' never bored me once. In fact, I felt like listening to it all over again as soon as it was over because I thought it wa too short! Extremely entertaining and well-written, this track.

5/5

---

''No Shadow of Turning'' - So you thought the last track was epic? Remember how I said by debut album standards, ten minutes was a lot to swallow? Well how about twenty minutes?

Okay, so to be fair, I have to confess, I personally feel that when an artist releases their debut album, they needn't get as pretentious or over-the-top 'epic' as they might be initially inclined to do. Why is this? Well, because I think on an artist's first go 'round, they need to establish some trust with the listeners first. After all, nobody has heard of Epignosis until this release, so it may be a little too much to handle, a new listener giving this new music a try might not like having to sit through nearly twenty minutes of Prog stylings.

However . . . something I would like to address here is that the album STILL THE WATERS as a whole is exactly four minutes shy of an hour. Comparatively speaking, that is an average album length, and while I personally don't like the idea of forcing someone to sit through such a long song first-off, I would have a lot worse problem with it if this had been a twelve-track album, but it isn't. This thing has only five tracks on it, and so, I can't really condemn the last track's length, because had Robert split this track in two, for instance, I still would have sat through both tracks without skipping, since it would still be one entity. Ultimately, the listening experience stays the same, and 3 long tracks and 2 longer tracks, or twelve short tracks, it's still the same length; 56:00. Because of this, it isn't logical for me to hate on this final track simply because it is longer than the rest.

This song is the most prominent in the Bass department, and tat clear Squire-esque tone is there, but not obnoxious. It fits, I think, for the song's premise. Also, the coolest Keyboard solo is on the track, and a very Blue Oyster Cult-ish vocal multi-tracking can be heard around 11:22.

''No Shadow of Turning'' is probably my third favorite track on the album, actually, and it serves as the percect album closer. Just brilliant in pretty much every way. Despite its length, it will keep listeners interested, because it never repeats itself or follows the traditional song formulas. In essence, I guess you could say that ''No Shadow of Turning'' is the most 'Prog' track on the entire STILL THE WATERS album.

4.5/5

---

So my track preferences, from most to least favorite, are as follows:

''Still the Waters'' - 5/5 ''An Everlasting Kingdom'' - 5/5 ''No Shadow of Turning'' - 4.5/5 ''A Pearl in a Field'' - 4.5/5 ''Move'' - 3/5

Some things to keep in mind: this is not a fast-paced album like a lot of the more popular modern Prog Rock bands, and if you expect it to be, you may be dissapointed, but if you go into it with an open mind and don't want yet another Yes clone, but truly original Prog music, you will hard pressed finding something not to like here. A terrific album!

Ultimately, it's simple: You HAVE to listen to this album! It is a bright light in the dim blandness that is Modern Progressive Rock; a true testament of a man's talent and love for originality. Robert was sitting on this material for four years, from what I understand, and there is absolutely no doubt that all that time has payed off greatly. I think you owe it to the man to purchase and listen to this wonderful piece of music. STILL THE WATERS may be Epignosis' first album, but I hope that it is not the last.

A wonderful debut by a wonderful musician. A solid 4/5.

Happy listening.

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Send comments to JLocke (BETA) | Report this review (#225620)
Posted Thursday, July 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars Damn, this is a good album! (Sorry Robert, I had to say that)

Listening to this album, I find that Robert W. Brown, Jr., our own Epignosis, is a very talented prog composer. His songs all have an element of elegance, as well as an air of peacefulness, with an underlying feeling of power and majesty.

His lyrics are unquestionably Christian inspirational, but they lack the finger-pointing judgemental qualities that make many religious songwriters off-putting, or even unlistenable. In fact, for the most part, his lyrics are quite nice (but they still won't convert this atheist).

It's difficult to find another artist with whom to compare the compositions, although I do hear a bit of the Kansas influence Robert often admits to. At times, his songs remind me a bit of ealy Echolyn's softer ballads, without the harmonied vocals.

While there are no pyrotechnic virtuoso performances, Robert proves himself to be extremely competent on all the instruments played here, I especially like his tasteful guitar playing, as well as his choices of guitar and keyboard sounds.

The only real drawback I find on the album is in production. Most of the songs could use some vocal layering, to add some depth to the sound, and many of the instrumantal sections would benefit from some fattening up. But I'm a maximalist, so maybe that's just me.

All in all, this is an excellent first album from someone who could develop into a major performer in the progressive rock field.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#227263)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A friend told me about this album, and I'm very glad he did.

Yes, Kansas, and many other artists were most likely influential to Epignosis, but this album is definitely one-of-a-kind. Every instrument is played well, and the tunes are memorable. My personal favorite song is "Move", but every track is quite enjoyable. The guitar is especially awesome and the keyboards are majestic.

I can't believe everything was recorded by one person: quite an accomplishment. Hopefully another album will be out soon.

Listen to the sample on this page, go to the Epignosis website, and then buy the album. It's great! For anyone who wants to hear anything new, this is top priority.

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Send comments to AceofHearts316 (BETA) | Report this review (#227910)
Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A Magnificent Pearl

Still the Waters is by no means a groundbreaking album, no, that barely happens nowadays. What you must expect from this album is gentle Symphonic Prog delivered straight from the heart of writer and performer, Robert W. Brown, Jr.

Do not expect modern Symphonic Prog ala Transatlantic or Spock's Beard, no, those are full of complex arrangements, plenty of solos of whatever, over-the-top organ/moog/mellotron, flawless production, with barely space to let in something emotional or peaceful. This is not to disrespect Robert and his capability as a song-writer and vocalist, and of course of his guitar ability, neither the other bands which I like so much, but this statement was settled to make it clear that being in Symphonic and belonging to the 21st century doesn't mean they have to sound like those bands at all.

Epignosis with this album sounds like a wonderful blend of great subtleties, an overall gentle mood full of emotion, and classic prog leanings like odd time signatures, keyboard solos, enlightening guitar solos and splendid craft on the compositions.

Still the Waters begins with the tranquil title track settling a very peaceful mood with almost a melancholic vocal delivery from Robert. The composition overall stays within that quiet position, yet every instrument is so well put that it can't manage to make you fall asleep, if that was what you thought it would do. Some lovely echoey sparkles full-filling the middle of the song interluding with Robert's soft acoustic guitar, finally breaking free with an indeed emotional electric guitar solo, and then returning to it's gentle position once again led by a sweet keyboard.

We move on to the second song, A Pearl in a Field, probably my favorite from the album. With the intriguing keyboard opening, and then the drums and bass following it, you simply have to raise the volume and listen more closely. Then moving to acoustic field like in the previous song, with some marvellous Genesis-esque keyboards, however that quickly changes of rythm, and then once again until there's the unique cheerful mood Robert is capable of creating, and that's when the song really begins. Bringing some really beautiful keyboards with an effective up-lifting acoustic guitar that reminds me of the beauty and mellowness of Trespass by Genesis, totally charming. However Robert saves the best for the end, finishing with the same intriguing keyboards and loud drums, he adds another splendid guitar solo, again you must crank up your speakers, this time to fully appreciate the feeling I have everytime I listen to that solo.

The third song, Move, is a bit more ''rock-driven'' song but that's because the fact of being led by the electric guitar and not an acoustic like in both previous songs, however that's how far the ''rock-driven'' style goes, the mood and tempo is still pretty gentle. However, that would change in the very half part of the song, with a synth changing the tempo and mood to an alien-like or spacey atmosphere though that's just a bridge to the even more exciting part. This 'exciting' part is settled in what I call the ''9/8 section'', however Robert corrected me and saying that it was in a 13/something, I can't re-tell neither can I count the beats. Let's just call it the ''9/8 section'', well what happens there is a great keyboard solo and then into Robert's always fantastic guitar, this time a bit more agressive in tone and style, yet very, very good. The guitar solo then moves to the soft mood of the begining and ending like it.

Fourth song, An Everlasting Kingdom, is the other favorite of mine, one again the acoustic guitar is prominent. Yes, the peaceful mood is still present and it always will be! It's the magic of this album! To a even more soft and gentle essence, Robert's wife, Tasha, participates on the vocals with a very angelic tone that is definitely essential for this song. As far as how the composition goes, you can split it in four depending on the tempo and mood: the first part being the acoustic reign, with the already mentioned lovely vocals duties by Mrs. Brown. While the second part follows the acoustic dominance, Robert adds some effective though subtle piano, which ends up being a short, though gorgeous, instrumental section. The third part is settled by a proggy time signature led by the drums and some subtle keys, which then will shine in a fantastic spacey way and finally some organ is heard. Finally the fourth part, the melancholic though powerful ending, brings you another well-thought, emotional and energetic guitar solo to appreciate and culminate the song.

The last song, No Shadow of Turning, the 'epic', has had a hard time with me. Surely it must have been Robert's most elaborated piece on the album, hence it's time, and surely where every instrument is at it's peak, full of Squire-esque bass going around, lots of mellotron, more organ than before and even quite heavy guitar riffs! Yes, surely the most Symphonic piece from the entire album as well. However all this might be the factor for me for not enjoying it within the context of the album, since it's by no means bad, but as a whole I don't think it flows that well, a bit forced I dare to say. Definitely a impressive piece for a debut album, yet I find a lot of it to be very unlike the rest of the album, and that produces an unfortunate flaw, however if you take the song apart from the rest of the album, it's actually a very rewarding listen.

As far as the rating goes, it'll get 4 stars, meaning an excellent prog rock addition as well as a very impressive debut album played only by one man and his guitar(and keyboards). Definitely recomended for all those who haven't heard a Prog album delivered sincerely straight from the composer's heart, and soul I must add. This is also recomended for those who think that the Symphonic genre right now is just delivering ''copy-cats'' from the 70's giants.

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Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#227918)
Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Still the Waters is the debut album by Epignosis (bet you didn't know that!). Anyway, it has loads of different instruments but is mostly acoustic based. If you like organ and guitar, this is probably the album for you. The first track has mostly acoustic guitar and some gentle singing. Up next is "A Pearl in a Field," which is also mostly acoustic but has an amazing guitar solo at the end. "Move" is a song he played acoustic in our church once, and has some powerful, biblical lyrics. "An Everlasting Kingdom" is when things get much more complicated, with different sections and lots of various instruments that might sound weird at first (especially the keyboard sounds). The last song is really long, but is pretty much focused on keyboards and has a complex structure. The guitar soloing is probably the best thing about the album, even though it isn't that complicated.

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Send comments to KeriAnne123 (BETA) | Report this review (#228540)
Posted Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars I think the only reason this album is getting any higher-rated scores is because it's written, played and produced by one of our own. Despite that, I don't think we should add extra stars just to cut them a break for a first effort. The progressions are good, but not captivating enough. I also found that there wasn't a large variety of sounds in the instruments used. Nothing was really impressive about the instrumentation, so all the tracks sorta blend together making it confusing of where you are in the album. After listening, I didn't remember any solid melodies or anything from this. This made the album come across bland and unexciting. It's very difficult to get in the mood for. While it's still a good effort, and we know how difficult it is to produce your own album, I can still think of a bunch of other albums to listen to before this one. It's already been tossed aside. With that honesty, I'll give this album 2 stars for it's attached description: "Collectors/fans only," which I really think is it's primary audience.

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Send comments to jpgarcia7787 (BETA) | Report this review (#229073)
Posted Thursday, July 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars No, seriously.

This being my first actual written review to ProgArchives, I felt that I needed to begin with something fresh and new - as there's almost too many reviews of old classics by GENESIS, YES or KANSAS and obviously, little new information or 'stuff' to be said about them.

Being an avid stalker of the '2009: Top Albums'-list, or any of the Top Albums of the Year-lists since they were introduced, I enjoy seeing how different albums either withstand the hype during the year, or the expectations of awaited albums get crushed, therefore I could have not missed the placing of EPIGNOSIS' 'Still The Waters' in that list. After also finding out how Epignosis - our beloved reviewer, shared similar musical influences with me, and reading the overwhelmingly positive reviews by other co-reviewers, I thought I'd better pick the album up.

But no, seriously. 'Still the Waters' is truly one the worst albums I've heard in 2009, and probably the worst I've ever heard - if we're talking about Symphonic Prog here. Everything in it, just makes me want to cringe.

As the technology has vastly improved from the 70s, we do get a lot of these one-man multi-instrumentalist bands or projects popping up, ever so frequently nowadays. But no.

The vocal work by Robert W. Brown, Jr. is just hideous, when it comes to listening to actual trained singers, or anybody else, who actually gets a record contract due to his or her vocal capabilities. Robert W. Brown, Jr. just lacks the needed passion to actually get the sound out - alive, vibrant, or with any kind feeling at all. Adding a few ghastly home-studio effects to the vocal parts doesn't help at all either. You know the feeling what you get after listening to early Idols episodes? Personally I'm getting embarrassed after hearing Robert W. Brown, Jr.'s singing, and sometimes even anxious - I'm stopping to listen if he can hit a note or not.

The guitar work is probably the best thing about the album, as the album has a couple of decentish solos. Nothing groundbreaking, or anything you should or could memorize. The semi-acoustic guitar in the background every now and then is otherwise very monotonous, and repetitive, it really sounds rather amateurish.

And talking about amateurish. The drums, or well, the drum machine. Especially in the title track, through to 'Move'. It's just really, really horrible. You really GET the feeling that there's a drum machine here, configured so that there's some various offbeats every now and then, since a human couldn't actually play this poorly (and record it for all the world to hear). Just listen to the fill of 'A Pearl In the Field' at around 0.55. You'll catch the drift.

All the other instruments, from the bass to the synth backgounds are rather nonexistent, and somehow decentish as well, due to not being too much advertised, or actually played. That is if you're not talking about any solos. After you've listened to your YES or ELP, and you think you could invent a quick, good synth solo out of the blue, you're just awfully wrong - they never sound good, great or anything like that. EPIGNOSIS truly confirms that. The synthesizer solo at 4.45 of the title track, 'Still The Waters', is a solid example. It just leaves you hoping for so oh-much more, and then actually wanting to never hear that solo again.

Why on earth did I review this one then? Well, I'm interested in seeing how inbred ProgArchives really is. Are all the very few positive reviews made only by the 'blind' friends or colleagues? Noticing the larger then life-reviews from fellow reviewers here in ProgArchives, the rather odd placing of 'STILL THE WATERS' in the current ProgArchives Top 2009 Albums-list, and the abundance of any kind of critique to a rather poor one-man debut album, I just felt that I had to share my views as well. Perhaps I'll even save the money of a fellow PA '2009: Top Albums'-lists stalker!

And a little tip, If you'd want my bet for the best one-man multi-instrumentalist debut album of 2009, I'd vote for PROGRESSION BY FAILURE. Just check out their MySpace, and 'Memories From The Future' from that annoying MySpace-player. Now there's some solid synth work. Thank heavens.

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Send comments to drwlf (BETA) | Report this review (#231431)
Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Well, given that I've just read a three-page flame war that started about this album, I figure now's a terrific time to post my review (hopefully you all read that as sarcasm).

So far, it seems two major opinions on Robert's album are that either it's really good or that it's the worst piece of music ever (with some opinions in between those of course). I'm slightly above the first category, in that this isn't just a good album, but a fantastic album. Yes, it is one of my favorite symphonic rock albums, and the while the production quality isn't perfect, I think it fits the music much better that way. There is no flashiness, no glamour, no sparkle (or as Aaron Turner of Isis would say, "guitar theatrics"): just really high quality modern symphonic rock. Still the Waters does evoke some influence from bands such as Yes and Kansas, but it still has its own unique sound to it. Robert spent 4 years working on this album, and it was definitely 4 years well spent. You can tell he really pours out his heart and soul into each piece, and while he doesn't have the best voice ever, he makes do with what was given to him, and it fits the music anyway.

For the longest time, I was in between giving StW 4 and 5 stars, although mostly because I felt Move was a slightly weaker song than the rest. But having given the album a few more listens before I reviewed it, and that song has finally grown onto me. The guitar solo especially really moves (no pun intended) me. It is simple, but to the point. And I think that sums up the whole of Robert's album in general. If you're a fan of modern symphonic rock, I would heavily consider investing in this album. Well worth it, and I don't even like most modern symphonic rock. I can't give this anything other than 5 stars and a high recommendation to all.

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Send comments to horsewithteeth11 (BETA) | Report this review (#231759)
Posted Saturday, August 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars Some weeks ago I received the songs from "Still the Waters" from Robert Brown and immediately added it to Symphonic because this is the place where the release belongs, but decided not to rate it in that moment because my first impression wasn't good and didn't wanted to be unfair, so waited a bit but due to a change of hard disk, lost some music including this album.

Some days ago bought the download and listened it carefully, this made my impression change, not enough to say it's a great album, but enough to recognize it's at least an average one.

Some determined issues affected my rating:

In first place the recording is horrendous, sounds artificial and amateurish, this is not EPIGNOSIS fault, but if an album doesn't sound well, we have a first problem.

In second place the arrangements are not in the level of the music, too many silent spaces that make it sound like incoherent musical passages united randomly one after the other instead of being a fluid recording, and at last a personal fact, I don't like Christian Prog at all (I'm a Christian, but I believe music must be free, not an instrument of evangelism).

The title song opens the album with an interesting intro, but the sound is empty, the drums sound weak, an acoustic guitar leads to the vocals that are pretty decent, but the recording is awful, it's hard to explain, but seems like Robert Brown is not playing enough instruments, the keys are interesting but the arrangements need more strength.

"A Pearl in a Field" reminds me of 666 by APHRODITE'S CHILD, specially in the use of keyboards, but again that empty sound really annoys me, the voice is weaker than in the previous track, the idea is good but Robert needs more time to develop them because the track is so repetitive that bores a bit.

At last "Move" presents us a stronger and more complete sound, well at least at the intro, the good news are that the vocals are stronger and the guitar is interesting, but in my opinion, Robert needs to add more instruments, because that annoying empty sound remains.

"An Everlasting Kingdom" starts with a beautiful instrumental intro that leads to the body of the song after some sound effects, but again falls in the same problem as most tracks, too predictable, the changes are not dramatic enough, plus the plain sound that we mentioned before.

When I saw the length of "No Shadow of Turning", I expected more ideas, and honestly Robert tries, but it's not enough, the sound is still too predictable for my taste, to the point that the 19 minutes seems endless, except for the delightful keyboards, good but not great song.

The sad thing is that Robert W Brown Jr, is a capable musician for what I listen, but I believe he needs to recruit other musicians to complement him and a second vocalist, being that his voice is good, but doesn't have the strength to be the only frontman.

The perfect rating for me would be 2.5 stars (as for any average album), but this is not allowed by the system, so I had to choose between 2 or 3 stars.

Being that I rated albums like ELP's debut and "Going for the One" by YES with 3 stars and even when "Still the Waters" i not in this level of quality I believe there's something good that we must encourage, so I'll go with three stars..

Will follow EPIGNOSIS next releases with interest because I find good ideas and musical skills that will develop with time.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#231821)
Posted Saturday, August 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Your Buddy's Very Good Prog

Though there have been threads and threads about this subject, I'd like to make my opinion clear. Epignosis is a talented amateur who has produced a both inspired and flawed album of mellow symphonic prog that deserves to be on Prog Archives but does not deserve us to pretend it is something that it is not.

Epignosis is a moniker for a single solo artist, Robert Brown. His skills mainly lie in keyboards, guitars, and songwriting. However, on this project, due to practical constrictions, he did all parts, including bass, vocals, and drum programming. The first is more than adequate for the project. Unfortunately, the last two fail him. Which is an unfair judgment on an artist who more than anything needs a full band. A human drummer, a dedicated singer, to convert good symphonic prog compositions into a truly good debut recording and then evolve together into something inspiring for a second and third album.

The best comparison to this album is Camel, another talented but undermanned outfit that has some moments of brilliance but also some major drawbacks (mainly in the vocal department). To be fair, Robert Brown tries harder vocally than Camel, creates better melodies, but unfortunately his own vocals don't hit pitch too often and the recording suffers. One wonders if the background singer had been encouraged enough to sing lead and just hit pitch whether this project would have been that much better. Similarly, the programmed beats work well enough, but the fills often don't match the grooove of the song. Being before and the behind the beat is such a subtlety that experienced human drummers do well, but computers cannot.

My feelings are so mixed on this. I have so many recordings from folks I consider friends, some with very different moments of brilliance, but also flawed in their own ways. I have scores of my own recordings with similar traits.

Bottom line, if you are a PA member, consider Epignosis a comrade, and want to hear some symphonic prog in the style of Camel with some Kansas added in, you will not be disappointed. Those not familiar with the artist will see some glimpses of an artist who may one day find his place among the familiar names.

Good job Robert, this is a great effort. You did good. Now kick our butts next time.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#234602)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I had many anticipated releases this year. New albums by Dream Theater, Mastodon, Maudlin of the Well, The Mars Volta, IQ, Beardfish, Queensryche, Phideaux, The Decemberists, Transatlantic, and Porcupine Tree were sure to keep me busy this year. But if someone were to ask me at the beginning of this year to make a prediction of my top 5 2009 albums, this album would have been far overshadowed by releases of some of the bigger names in the prog world. Not that I wasn't expecting anything from Robert, I just wasn't expecting an album so good. This is one of the best debut albums I can think of, and is definitely one of my top 2009 albums.

The skill of multi-instrumentalist Robert W. Brown is undeniable, and I rank him up there as one of the best up and coming prog acts I've heard. He plays everything on this album, and plays it exceptionally well. His skill on guitar is the highlight, with some killer solos, but he shows his chops on bass and keyboards as well.

There are only a few knocks I can give this entire album. While the songwriting and musicianship are not amateurish at all, the production quality is. I can't say I was expecting too much in this category, but this sounds like it was recorded in 1965. This isn't an album that you can crank too loud without hearing its limitations, but it isn't horrible or anything like that. You can hear everything clearly, but this obviously wasn't produced by Alan Parsons. The arrangements could be better at times as well, though there never was a point where a song was arranged badly. There are a few moments where the music feels a little empty, and could have been better. One of the main reasons why it feels empty at times is that there are no backing vocals except on "An Everlasting Kingdom". The addition of feminine vocals really adds a second layer to the music, and I wish it would have been used on more songs. With that said, these are all relatively small complaints in the big picture. When everything else is masterpiece material, the production qualities are an afterthought.

THE MUSIC:

The music here is generally soft, focusing more on beautiful melodies, symphonic song structures, and thought out soloing than fast riffs and shredding guitar solos. This sounds like Genesis at times, and like Neal Morse at other times. It has many acoustic driven parts, which reminds me on Neal Morse, but many guitar solos remind me of Steve Hackett's melodic style, as well as Tony Bank's excellent use of the Mellotron, organ, and thought out synth solos. I just compared this album to two of my favorite symphonic prog artists, which shows that I think very highly of this album.

"Still The Waters"- The title track opens very well, with a guitar solo that progresses well into the main verse. The acoustic guitar is my favorite part about this song, and it is great in the background. A well placed keyboard and guitar solo in the middle of this song is excellent. The guitar solo sounds very much like a Steve Hackett solo, and it is really a professional guitar solo that has everything that makes an excellent guitar solo. It starts with a punch, has great hooks, and progresses well into the main verse. Excellent way to start the album!

"A Pearl In A Field"- It starts out with two Mellotron chords that progress into a good organ solo to get the instrumental opening into another section. After the opening entrances a beautiful acoustic section that has a guitar and keyboard solo that adds a nice touch. This has some of the most beautiful parts in the album, and some nice acoustic parts.

"Move"- One of my favorite songs on the album for various reasons. The main section reminds me of McCartney at times, and has a really nice vocal melody. The lyrics are also the best on the album. I particularly like the lyric "You move Heaven and Earth just to move me". The instrumental section in the middle has a cool organ riff that eventually goes into a guitar solo that progresses back into the main section. This ends very well with an acoustic guitar melody.

"An Everlasting Kingdom"- This is another one of my favorite songs on the album. It starts out with acoustic chords, and the synths that come in at 15 seconds are really good. This is a beautiful song, with some great piano sections. The vocals of Robert's wife, Tasha, really add a second layer to the music, and I actually wish they were used more on this album. The instrumental section is a departure from how beautiful the main section was, but a stellar guitar solo brings us out of the song incredibly, and that's why this is probably my first favorite on the album.

"No Shadow of Turning"- The 20-minute epic certainly doesn't disappoint. The strong opening has a great bassline, and good use of the Mellotron. The vocals on this song are very strong, and the highlight is definitely the Mellotron that is present throughout most of the song. The album ends very well, and this is a great closing epic.

If you don't buy this album after reading this, than I really haven't done what I am supposed to do. This is an excellent album that anyone interested in prog should own. I really want to give this 5 stars. This is incredible, and basically essential, but the with the recording quality I can't quite say it is a perfect masterpiece. So 4 stars it will be, and I think that is very good for a debut album.

4 stars.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#235274)
Posted Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars Warning: There are room for 4.000 albums on my CD collection, and this is simply the worst album that i have listened ever, and it would have been more painful if my native language would have been English, because of the lyrics. If anyone wants to hear a good album from this artist, please give him proper musicians, a proper producer. Boring to the core, with so many spaces in between, humdrum, not fluid. By worshiping this piece of music, we only assume the severe risk of listen to a second effort as bad as this one. I have put my money on so many albums, only because of the ratings on PA, considering specially if the rating comes from senior members, and that had worked so well until....,mmmmmmm....next time i'll be more carefull. Friends only, and only for the good ones, 1 star.

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Send comments to Rikki Nadir (BETA) | Report this review (#238036)
Posted Monday, September 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is easy to get involved in Epignosis' Still the Waters right from the start. Robert takes his time with his compositions, yet the music is far from boring. The way Robert layers the various instruments that he chooses to use is quite unique and definitely intriguing. Even as the songs are approximately eight and twenty minutes in length, my attention is never lost as the music progresses smoothly while the individual parts of the songs work together nicely to create beautiful compositions. The songs are complex enough to keep your attention throughout, yet simple enough to easily enjoy, allowing yourself to get emotionally involved.

For the most part, I believe that Robert's vocals were done well. There are a few places where his voice seems a bit strained as though he is reaching for the note he is singing. The effects he uses on his voice are a great contribution the to songs. Compared to the amount of instrumental time, the lyrics are few, but powerful. Robert sings about the truths of his faith which are very inspirational, but never forced upon the listener.

Looking at the instrumentals and vocals separately, I would give the instrumental portion a 5/5 and the vocals portion a 4/5. However, to rate Epignosis' Still the Waters as a complete piece of music, I offer it a 5/5. It is comprised of five beautiful works of art.

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Send comments to Fat Bottom Girl (BETA) | Report this review (#240347)
Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
progkidjoel
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Epignosis - Still The Waters

Review by progkidjoel.

Epignosis' STILL THE WATERS has received much praise from many other reviewers here on ProgArchives, and rightly so - It's an incredibly well played and thoughtfully composed album, and deserves every bit of credit it has received so far. A vast majority of the lyrics have massive Christian undertones, but as these never feel oppressive, overly preachy, forceful, or 'in-your-face', I can't see a problem, and can see some strong relation to the poetry. The songs are made full by the fantastically tame instrumentation, which helps fill out already great songs. I'd like to let whomsoever reads this know that this is an honest, unbiased opinion, and was written without effect of my friendship with Robert. Several other reviews have suggested that this album has only received high ratings due to the close subject matter, although I assure you this album deserves the praise it receives. I'd also like to add this is my second favourite release of 2009, only outdone by MAUDLIN OF THE WELL's best to date, PART THE SECOND. Its worth pointing out the production on this album isn't fantastic, but for a debut from a multi instrumentalist, and considering the budget under which it was made, this is totally forgivable.

Opening up with an eerie ambient effect, the title track opens the album out into a lovely, wholesome guitar riff, slightly reminiscent of Steve Rothery of MARILLION. The riff continues, and is overlapped by a short guitar fill. Shortly after this, drums and bass ensue, with heavier guitar chords. At around 1 minute, vocals enter with a new guitar riff and rhythm. Much softer, and sounding somewhat like an Indie band, Robert creates a great atmosphere through the continuing genuine sense of reality this track carries. At around 3 minutes this fills into a new guitar riff, with a great guitar solo. (This solo reminds me A LOT of SOON, by YES!) Chilling stuff, which when closing, finishes into another great guitar riff and some heavier chords. Eventually, a great synth fill helps add another dimension, which is cut short by yet another amazing guitar solo. The last two minutes of this track are genuinely fulfilling - In these last two minutes, we see a multi-instrumentalist come into his whole as a guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and drummer!

The album continues with my favourite track, A PEARL IN A FIELD. This song opens yet again with inspiring synth riffs, and continues into a heavily rhythmic drum beat perfectly transposed by the soft singing of acoustic guitar chords. Amongst this total mass of instrumentation, a soft synth solo hums over the top and eventually leads into a great bass line which gives the track a lot more structure. At around two minutes in, this track changes pace completely, coming in a lot less full-on, with soft guitar and vocals. Some nice use of vocoder adds to the textures in this track, and the great guitar work provides yet more high points for the debut of Robert Brown Jr.! At the three and a half minute mark, gentle, dripping keyboard tones yet again add to the overall sensitivity and uniqueness of this track. The acoustic guitar work makes this track, and around halfway through, a lovely piano accompaniment joins in the guitar to put some flesh on the bones of a fine track. This track also shows varied drum ability, from heavy rhythmic beats to soft jazz fills. The last minute of this track is marked by a crunchy solo which plays wonderfully off the same harmony that marked the intro.

The album continues with MOVE, a track which reminds me of THE BEATLES musically. This track has the strongest vocal section on the album, and the sound is decidedly different to the past two. This also has my favourite lyrics on the album, in "You are beautiful, you are terrible, you are unchangeable." This track has a great bass line which adds some great atmosphere. At four minutes in, we see the largest stylistic change in the song structure and genuine feel of the album so far. This comes in the form of a bitter-sweet guitar riff, accompanied by the same synth rhythm. This then continues, gathering both momentum and a drum beat as the mid-section progresses. At around 6 minutes in, another crunchy guitar solo accompanies the synth and bass riff, and this sits in the vein of some prog giants, and OZRIC TENTACLES particularly comes to mind. Another tempo change appears soon after, with some deliciously eloquent shredding, which leads into a great riff. This song then leads into a similar flavour to the intro, although the last minute and a half is markedly more upbeat. This features some great guitar chords, over- layered with fantastic acoustic licks.

AN EVERLASTING KINGDOM opens with a much more upbeat into riff, picking up a multitude of prog staples in its synth riffing, and eventuating into a solid track. The only true weak point on this track is the vocal sections, which although not bad, aren't very good. Some beautiful soloing and lyrical sections bring this track to life, and make it the most emotionally stimulating so far. At around half way through, the pace changes again, entering into some ambient synth and guitar work. Soon after, this album reaches its heaviest moment, filled with absolutely brilliant guitar soloing and the occasional shred. The drums are consistent throughout this track, although further use of stereo phonics could have added some more dimensions and textures. Throughout this mass of solos, truly epic synth work plays delicately with the consistent bass and guitar work. Soon after, the pace changes with some soft piano work and great guitar work. This particular section always reminds me of something by late MARILLION, although the guitar work is more similar to that of STEVE HOWE, the master. This is possibly my favourite instrumental section throughout the album, and is by far the most emotionally enduring. The restless guitar work and piano chords play wonderfully into an epic close.

Ah, this is it! The moment we've all been waiting for - The epic! NO SHADOW OF TURNING is the longest track on the album, by nearly twice the length. And rightly so - This is a true technical and compositional showcase on all fronts by Epignosis, particularly in the drum and synth department. This is a genuine, full-fledged prog epic, and is fully deserving of its length. Throughout its lifespan, the many changes of pace, emotion and tempo are unbelievable, and really add to the quality of this album. My favourite section of this epic spans from around three minutes until five minutes, which is filled with perfect piano playing and vocal majesty. The synth work is once again fantastic, some sections better than others, but overall great. The drum work on this song is excellent, and is by far the best on the track. The heavy rhythm at around five and a half minutes is still as exciting to me as the first time I heard it, and this can be said for a majority of this album. The guitar work holds the banner high, and the pace change at seven minutes is one of the most original in the symphonic prog genre in the last ten years. Another high point flows into place at the ten minute mark, when flowing piano chords come bursting in with great, thumping bass, which once again leads into the rhythm I spoke about before. Another synth chord attack brings the track a fuller, and somewhat more confusing flavour. The last six minutes of NO SHADOW OF TURNING round out the album perfectly, and give a good recap as to what one can expect when listening to this strong debut. The lyrics are at their high point; which is more than obvious is this album's killer line: "How can I blindly trust your God? No faith is ever blind." This track rounds out with more of the killer synth and guitar interplay, and the outro guitar solo closes the album with a genuinely helpless feel. This is a brilliant epic, and a perfect closer!

In addition, I'd like to add that I may have misinterpreted some of the moods and/or atmosphere expressed throughout this album, although I don't think this is a real problem - The album still connected with me in a unique and deeply affectionate way.

The only genuine complaints I have for this album seem petty when looked at in the grand scheme of things, although are still worth a mention. The drum work, although sometimes great, is often very average in comparison to the other instrument work. I'd also like to add that the vocals aren't really great - They suit the purpose, although I will go as far to say there is massive room for improvement in the singing department.

This is a fantastic album, and the best symphonic prog release in recent memory.

I only own this album as MP3's, as that's the only way its currently available, but I plan to buy this as a CD if it is ever released in that format.

A great album, and truly deserving of its place amongst the best of 2009!

-Joel

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Send comments to progkidjoel (BETA) | Report this review (#243006)
Posted Monday, October 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The Sea Refuses No River

Let's leave our excess baggage at customs for this one shall we? Rock music with a Christian orientation has always been placed in the overhead locker in the Lemming aisle. However it doesn't require a leap of faith to deduce that the spiritual preoccupations of many a wealthy prog poet might just reveal less than a full cavity body search of that suspiciously muted budgie wearing a turban in seat 666 ever would. That said, there is more candour and sincerity on offer here than in the summed narcotic haul of those sniffer dogs Jon Anderson and Pete Sinfield. Epignosis has something to say (I don't agree with it) but Messrs Anderson and Sinfield will forever be short of a message to populate their obvious command of the medium.(Both have the luxury of being able to express two bit ideas in 24 bit hi-fidelity sensurround stereo)

A Pearl in a Field - Starts in foreboding fashion with a couple of eerie filtered choral chords underpinned by a brooding NIN rock beat before transitioning into a very effective bridge utilising some clean six string timbres. An impressive and judiciously paced opening to be sure as I have heard such hikes in meter, key and tempo handled with far less nous by those enshrined in Rock's Hall of Fame. Could be said to carry an echo of Kansas in the instrumentation employed and cinematic scope of the ambitious arrangement. The much maligned production on Still the Waters is a tad exaggerated as although it reeks of a semi-pro establishment, it is nowhere near as bad as the sort of 'bedsit Acoustic Ladyland demos' I have heard it compared to. A tad 'thin' sounding in places but nothing that should have audiophiles reaching for the earplugs. Robert is clearly a highly talented and versatile guitarist on both acoustic and electric with this area of his creativity possibly representing the peak of his endeavours. The keyboard parts are also skilfully arranged but the timbres employed betray the tell-tale droppings of the Softsynth Preset Beastie on occasions. Exempt from these misgivings are the 'Tron and piano sounds which exude an organic analogue 'presence' and appear more authentically three dimensional in comparison. The choral chords return in a nice symmetrical touch to the track's conclusion with a fine guttural guitar solo to the fade. Not too shabby at all.

The most polarizing aspect of this album will probably be the singing. It's a given that the quality of mercy is not strained but Robert also betrays some inaccuracies of pitch from time to time. On many other genres this would not be the handicap it is here e.g. Lou Reed, Tom Verlaine, Alex Harvey, Neil Young and Bob Dylan could be said to have very 'unmusical' voices but such is the material it is employed on, the lack of formal accuracy does not undermine the music. Symphonic Prog is a much more demanding taskmaster, and any such flaws in the Tonsilry Dept are bound to irk connoisseurs of the style.

An Everlasting Kingdom - Word to the wise Bob, don't play into the hands of your most virulent critics here as they are not deserving of their victims shelling out for the ammo to be used. Beautiful acoustic playing on the intro together with a sumptuous fondant fuzz vibrato on the emerging lead. Robert's diction on this number is vaguely redolent of Neil Young and despite the rather flat and self consciously inhibited nature of singing, (Is there a Neil Young preset on a vocoder ?) the melodic ideas and arrangement are actually bloody top notch ! Like so much of this album, it can be frustrating when you recognise great musical ideas not being given the chance to do themselves justice. I particularly like the quieter arpeggio section which carries a tenuous whiff of Cinema Show era Genesis with the volume pot 'weeping violin' a la Hackett. A much more urgent section beckons with yet more very lyrical and plaintive guitar soloing and judicious use of quiet/loud dynamics. Nice sweepy raspy synth thingy but sabotaged by a rather anodyne imitation of a visceral Hammond. We reach some lovely unadorned piano chords announcing a moment of immutable calm (is this a real joanna matey?) If it were not transparent by now, I really like the disciplined guitar playing on Still the Waters. Like all of the six string statements contained herein, there is no fretboard auto-eroticism here and if Robert's musical career stalls he can always offer on-line instruction to the likes of Steve Howe (to illustrate that one well chosen note can communicate more than 200 badly chosen ones) Even though it clocks up at over 10 minutes, An Everlasting Kingdom is mercifully temporal as things never drag throughout and this is testimony to the resilience of the thematic ideas employed and Robert's skills as an arranger.

Move - Very strong melody over an attractive chorused arpeggiated guitar and for once the compass of the verse tune does not overreach the abilities of the vocalist. What sounds like a Joe Meek modded stylophone or 60's beachparty organ peeks its way from out of the back of the mix and given the very highly developed sense of humour I know Epignosis has, there was bound to be an outlet for this side of his personality at some point. The middle of the song starts to ramble dangerously alas before we reach the sanctuary of a robust synth stated melody with the patch dialled up here being one of the most effective and appropriate on the record. In spite of the ending boasting an attractive eastern inflected guitar solo, it cannot disguise the paucity of the overarching arrangement. Bit of a curate's egg this critter (parts of it are truly excellent)

Trivia Fans: If you crank the volume up sufficiently at the end of this track you will be able to hear the distant fortissimo holler of the artist's son Simon in the background. What he is saying I cannot tell but rest assured it ain't satanic messages. (Unless he has his father's wicked sense of humour of course)

No Shadow of Turning - Spooky swathes of magisterial 'Tron and an implied oriental dialect on a truly impressive intro which segues into a more staccato and bombastic main theme.Thereafter the toppy overdriven bass and episodic style of the ensemble writing is reminiscent of a considerably more diffident 'Yes'. (That's gotta be a good thing, for those who require clarification) Serenity is restored with some more hauntingly poignant piano which builds towards the album's one sure-fire 24 carat hook:

Voices are beautiful

(I may have misheard the lyrics here?) Whatever, these sections are very moving and the first 12 minutes of this 'monster with the fuller figure' is top drawer. The crunch meter goes well into the red at the cusp hereabouts with some sludgy riffing that seems to benefit from the prevalent lo-fi surroundings.The singing on the second half, despite the ethereal support of some female really casts the underlying beauty of the melodic ideas in an unflattering light. Similarly, there are large arid patches where solitary synth motifs are stated but seldom seem to be developed or concluded satisfactorily. I am sure Robert is bound to flame me for suggesting such, but said ambiences remind me of the 'roomier' portions of Tales from Topographic Oceans.

Still the Waters - Probably the most assured vocal performance on offer here but sadly relegated to one of the dullest tracks. An enticing intro lulls us into an expectant mood but the resultant strum-a-long core of the song is pleasant enough, but distinctly lacking any memorable hooks. Why Epignosis should have earmarked this docile critter as the title track is probably best known only to himself.

As he is a valued contributor to PA of long standing, I am sure Epignosis is heartily sick of reading the welter of well intentioned but spurious advice offered to him on these very pages since the album was released.

Do this, don't do that, do less of this, use more of that blah yakkity ditto etc

Suffice it to say that this is a whole lot better than I imagined and such is the strength of many of the musical ideas on Still the Waters, it would pass muster as an excellent album if the singing matched the melodies and the production was beefed up in a professional recording studio. Even an ignorant atheist such as myself, can easily identify the Biblical parables that Epignosis draws upon as inspiration for his work. It strikes my sensibilities that such moral fables would be better expressed and carry far greater endorsement by the wider rock fraternity, if they were couched in a more secular manner e.g. ditch the casting of the scriptures and populate the stories with real dudes/dudettes in the real world.

Like its author, Still the Waters is never pious, sanctimonious or judgemental and for that alone, anyone who enters the murky depths of 'rawk' clutching a moral mandate to their tremulous chest, must have an armour and balls the size of a Minotaurasaurus.

Kudos to you Robert.

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Send comments to ExittheLemming (BETA) | Report this review (#246148)
Posted Sunday, October 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Of course, I'm tempted to give good rating just because it's the one I'm talking too, the one (etc hundreds, of at least tens of words I can say about him). Because it's hard to choose whether to rate this as normal commercial prog album (from someone I don't know, for example Jethro Tull), or as album from someone whom I can talk about as my colleague (so familiar element takes place in this case).

I'll do something in between. Robert is multi-instrumentalist, I always rated better those artists, who managed to do everything by themselves (not considering Tasha "bring-another- beer" Brown, if I'm correct by assuming that it's his wife. It can be also mother, daughter, or other relative, of course. I should ask). It really pleased me. I was expecting something amateur-like (sorry, but you know - this is something I've never encountered before, because a lot of my friends have their own bands and, their sounds is, well, average, so I thought that in this case there will also have to be added big share of fandom element. But no, it's not needed, the album is good by itself.), instead, I'm pleasantly surprised with quite high- standard and original symphonic (even acoustic at times) prog with one exception, I don't like drums much here (especially in A Pearl In a Field). But forget about them, they're not so important, as I can hear rhythm well and this needed feeling of them is here. This song is very calm, there's no doubt about it. And when in the middle part there's this gentle guitar playing, I instantly though about my very special girl Mary and why I love her doing the same thing so much. Watching her, smiling and just listening this very special moment. I like doing it and in this track, I'm recreating these happy memories (at this moment, as I'm sure she'll be as glad about it as I am)

Vocals are good, maybe there's little bit problem with how loud they are mixed, I would welcome they sounding more prominent (first minute of Move, later on they're more clear to be heard, but after some listening, I think [maybe, more like I suppose] that it can even be intention, as the voice is in fact becoming louder and louder as song moves towards the end). This one ain't (am I using slang right?) bad. Actually, I see it as a hard candy, something that's promising, but also challenging (I hope this words has no other meanings,, but if it ha, just think about just in terms of these two words, challenging and promising, that's all [folks]). OK, let's end this sentence and start new one. It's like The Mars Volta albums, they're good, but you have to find your way to them. You can't apply normal approach, because you'll fail. Many times I was trying to read a poem at the same speed as book (so about one A5 page/minute) and I constantly failed. So I though that I'm not good at reading them, but it all was just in my head, only thing I had to do was to change my approach. So I did and now I enjoy poems (even especially lyrics are hard for me), as I like to write them myself. Happy end for Marty and for this song, let's say that I found my way to it too. Think of it as a journey (after all, the title is "Move", so it can be about journey). And it's progress, captured into this song, as it goes from the weak/calm sounds to strong/wilder in the end. Well, wild in terms of this album (don't expect death metal, hooray)

But let's back to the beginning and think about title track, Still the Waters for a little while. Quite calm one with synthesizers providing background for dreamy landscape (like sitting on one of these flat topped hills, with just wind and your imagination providing these synths and just you and your guitar. Of course, guest starring the endless desert of memories, experiences and lifeless life (you know how magical desert can be). I must confess that this is purely my mind, how it's reflecting the music, voice (but no lyrics), because I'm not so good at poetic analysis (so I rather let it to have an effect on me in my own way, as I'm good [I think] at feeling things), so lyrics can be about something completely different. But you know, interpretation can be. This track, nor this album doesn't rock. It induces, it makes you think and mostly - feel the music. It's not raw rock like Led Zeppeling was, nor so melodic like Genesis were. The way of this album is different.

Fourth one, An Everlasting Kingdom, where story of king is presented to us (where are the fairies ? Without them, it's way too misogynist. Or fair maidens, even better). First I was surprised by somehow electronic modulated voice (not exactly Cher-style, but there certainly is something). But as song slowly flew away, it become normal and not so immediate. Actually, this song is full of electronic sounds, even synths are different, which brings us to interesting combination (also, just my interpretation), medieval (for some, medievil - game maniacs already know what's going on) and modern age sounds.

So to sum up, everything's pretty good, except minor faults in drum element and vocal changing (of tone, there seems to be slight problem he has, but maybe it's just me. No, I wouldn't do better).

But beware, this is not album for all occasions. It works better when you're more tired (let me explain it. When I'm refreshed and full of energy, I usually am listenin' metal, or some heavy stuff. This at times possess elements of post-rock, especially the trait that you have to feel music to understand it better). But not only when you're exhausted, but also at night. It's special time of day and many of us can actually work more effective at night, so even they have energy, this works better than during day, as you have to focus on it.

I even made a song about him >:-) wanna hear it ? (my first smilie in review)

And another one, indeed that my decision is influenced, even it's not blindfolded rating (as I'm trying to counterweight it), but it would be foolish to deny that I'm not affected. Well, it sure helps that he wasn't blackmailing me, trying to threated to my (imaginary and merely theoretical) children, abducting my (as well imaginary for now) wife, trying to bribe me (thinking forward) with Chinese Yens and doing other tactical (and persuasive) things, such as trying to run over my cat with car, or even (completely insane) having my cat to scratch my eyes in case I won't rate with 4 stars or better. Nothing of this is true (I'm glad, even some of these could be quite fun for me), because

It surely helps with my decision to 1)Hear it many times and still like it 2)Having support from my girl who also likes it 3)Knowing him, so this author-listener equation is affected (no denying here) 4)Writing so many words also helps. 4(+) Fu(c)king A as they say in one country (which I'll rather not mention, but even Mike Portnoy is using this word)

EDIT: Yeah, I edited this, making this review 3x longer and also added one star. And I even didn't wrote anything about last two songs yet. Oh, of course I sincere apologize to The Wife, as No Offense (in this case more like Offence) intended (because the law applied by me was to use every ammunition to make joke). Good to know that this is person that I can call friend.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#253326)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Still the Waters is the debut effort by US one-man band Epignosis, featuring compositions made and recorded over a good deal of time from what I understand.

Musically we're dealing with vintage symphonic prog of the atmospheric variety here, with a few nods in the direction of bands like Camel and Genesis. The acoustic guitar is a central feature on most creations, with some heavier drawn out riffs added in on occasion, while organ, synths, what I suspect might be an emulated mellotron and atmospheric guitar soloing adding the finer details and moods.

The best part of this album are the compositions themselves, especially the instrumental passages. Epignosis excel at conjuring up dreamy passages with strong atmospheres, and many of them are extremely intriguing despite quite a few shortcomings - at least according to my ears.

First and foremost mix and production leaves a bit to desire. I found the overall mix to be rather unbalanced at times, and whole some sequences came across better than others, many of them detracted rather than added to the ideas played out in my opinion. The drums and vocals are the main victims so to speak, but most of this album would have sounded much better with a more seasoned producer I suspect.

A decent drummer and bassist would have lifted the overall listener-friendliness of this production as well. While the productional aspects does deterioate the peformance in my opinion, some seasoned musicians would have lifted these parts of the immensely. Much the same can be said about the vocals, which arguably may be the weakest feature of this venture - although I think the production may be just as much to blame here as the performance as such.

And while Epignosis comes across as a decent guitarist, especially when playing the acoustic one or when providing atmospheric soloing, he's also an able man with the tangents. First and foremost he comes across as a skilled composer though. Somewhat naive at times I think, but these songs are good - and I would have loved hearing what bands like Ajalon or Argos could have made of these efforts.

Personally I found last track No Shadow Turning to be the best of the bunch here. Not that the composition in itself is so much better than the others, but because the instrumental performances and production on this one for some reason or other seemed to be slightly better than the preceding numbers.

If vintage symphonic prog is your thing and you enjoy listening to raw talent, Still the Waters should be an interesting album to check out. If you expect perfect sound and great performances this one isn't the album to get in other words, but if the compositions are more important for you than the performance as such this is an album that should cover your needs.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#254653)
Posted Sunday, December 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Still the Waters" is an album I am often listening to! Christian music must stir my soul to worship and reverence for God, and Robert W. Brown, Jr's music does just that! I love the guitar solos, clearly a lot of thought has gone into them! Each track sustains interest as it moves through a succession of melodic motifs, all of which are pleasing to the ear! My favourite track is "An everlasting Kingdom". The use of the female voice is a beautiful addition. "No shadow of turning" is a richly melodic, well balanced epic.

The album suffers from some fatal imperfections, namely the performance slips and some out-of-tune notes in the vocal section. I would have liked to hear more movement in the bass section. Having said this, for a solo-project and debut album, this is an enjoyable album.

Peace brother Rob! I look forward to the next album!

3.5 stars

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Send comments to Kassimatis (BETA) | Report this review (#255072)
Posted Tuesday, December 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As most know Epignosis (Robert) is a card carrying member of Prog Archives, and a guy who has completely different tastes in music than I do (haha). We "agree to disagree" but to give an example he's given 1 or 2 stars to three albums that are in my top five of 2009, and i've rated them all 5 stars. He loves KANSAS, i'm not a fan at all. So you can imagine my surprise to find out Robert has made an album here ("Still The Waters") that suits my tastes. I've heard a lot of Christian based music over the years, and while the lyrics here aren't anything new, the sound for that genre of music is. What we get is a melancholic mood throughout with lots of mellotron. Even the vocals are laid back and reserved. There are issues with this recording, the mix could be better and so could the vocals. And we get a lot of samples instead of the real thing, but this is all a product of EPIGNOSIS not being signed to a label and doing it on his own. I think Robert has done a fine job all things considered. Now to the music.

"Still The Waters" builds until we get some raw sounding guitar around a minute. Vocals and gentle guitar follow. Drums take over followed by synths after 3 minutes. I'm reminded of PORCUPINE TREE before 4 minutes. Nice. That raw guitar is back after 5 minutes and vocals a minute later. Synths after 8 1/2 minutes. A good start. "A Pearl In The Field" opens with mellotron as bass and drums join in. Synths and guitar follow. Then we get strummed guitar and bass only as the vocals join in. Electric guitar after 3 minutes. Acoustic guitar and keys a minute later. Vocals and mellotron 5 1/2 minutes in before the electric guitar returns 6 minutes in and again a minute later to end it. Vocals come in quickly on "Move" as guitar then growly bass joins in. Mellotron around a minute. Drums eventually arrive. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes before it kicks back in a minute later with chunky bass, drums and keyboards. Guitar after 6 1/2 minutes.Vocals and that earlier sound are back before 8 minutes.

"An Everlasting Kingdom" has some acoustic guitar to open before it settles to an almost spacey soundscape after a minute. Vocals and drums before 2 minutes.The drums don't sound right here. It settles again after 5 minutes and turns spacey then kicks back in before 6 minutes. I like the guitar but not the drums here. Organ after 7 1/2 minutes then it settles with piano as guitar and drums join in. "No Shadow Of Turning" is my favourite by far. And not because it's the longest track at 20 minutes either. Some atmosphere to open and the mellotron sounds so good here. Growly bass and guitar come and go. Vocals before 3 1/2 minutes. More mellotron after 4 minutes. Great sound before 6 1/2 minutes. How good is this after 7 1/2 minutes when the vocals return with some heaviness. This is so good. Check out the sound after 13 1/2 minutes. It's so uplifting. A calm with vocals before 16 minutes. It's heavier (nice bass) again but retrained. Guitar 18 1/2 minutes in. This is one of the best songs that i've heard in 2009. I'd love to hear this done in a studio with a cast of musicians helping out. Regardless this is an excellent addition to my collection. Great job Robert !

Edit : It's been a couple of months and I always re-visit those albums that I consider low 4 star records. Sometimes I feel the rating I originally gave was right on, other times I drop it. I don't usually give an explanation like this but because it's Robert a member of our site I feel it's the right thing to do. When I first listened to this album back in December I must admit that I thought that 3 stars would be a generous rating, but it grew on me and the poor vocals seemed not too bad after a while. Besides the last track is fantastic. But to go back an re-listen a couple of more times makes me realize 3 stars is the right rating for me. I'm glad I own it but there are too many issues that I know aren't Robert's fault. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#256426)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I am not a big fan of symphonic prog (and never was), but I really like some ELP and Kansas works. And I have warm feelings to early ELO works till now. Not very big list, so I believe my opinion on this album is more like "a look from outside".

From very first listening I noticed some strong side and some weak side of this work. And, possibly, it is good sign, because both of them are almost on the surface.

Let start from what is not very succeeded in my opinion. Musicianship is nice, but at the demo level. I know, that it's one man's band, so this instrumental quality is easy understandable. But I believe ,it could be seriously improved using some team of skilled musicians instead of multi layers. And if guitar sounds are often attractive, drumming is the weak point.

Another moment, which needs serious improvement, is energetic level. Before I listened this album, I was attracted when read that this music is influenced by Kansas, between others. But I really missed this level of energy! I believe, that a bit faster tempo and competent rhythm section could make serious improvement there in this sound! Vocals is average, but all sound needs better production.

Now about positive moments. There are great compositions, really nice musical material! Even if in some moments this side of the work is somewhere under skin, every listener can easy feel this potential.

Overall, I can think about this album as about demo debut, demonstrating musician potential. I believe that such kind of material, but performed with team of competent musicians and professionally recorded and mixed could become really attractive musical work.

About 2,5 (rounded to 3)

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#270422)
Posted Monday, March 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars I admit to a soft spot for less.er..professional progressive music. Without the budget for glitz and glamour, and with the technical restrictions that come from playing 7 instruments and being proficient at 2, EPIGNOSIS has initiated a smoldering labor of love on his debut release. My first reaction was reactionary, as his nonchalant vocal style and direct Christian themes both dampened my enthusiasm. Patience does not come easily to a prog fan in search of the next buzz, but ultimately, after many listens, I became, if not wholeheartedly converted, at least richly heartened.

This is generally a laid back work, perhaps necessitated by Robert Brown's vocal limitations, perhaps by his desire to focus on a more mellow symphonic approach that is less common among the giants of the genre, with sumptuous string synthesizers and acoustic guitars forming much of the backing. It gives even the weaker and slower tracks like "A Pearl in A Field", an RPI sort of sheen, akin to HOSTSONATEN. Elsewhere, the conversely strong "Move" reflects NEKTAR in its mellower moments. Everywhere are the ghosts of CAMEL and FLOYD, even RENAISSANCE and YES, but EPIGNOSIS will not be pegged down, more recalling the elegant work of DAVID SYLVIAN or MOONGARDEN.

The album's strongest piece is the 20 minute closer "No Shadow of Turning", as it best blends and showcases Brown's songwriting talents and weaves in powerful bass-bolstered vocal passages. By now, after a dozen listens, I found myself quite under a delicate yet persuasive spell. But the life a reviewer being what it is, I really have to move on to other music, so I will stop this critique short by encouraging you to give this more than a chance. Its gentle and artful earnestness will eventually win over even the most musically agnostic. 3.5 stars, rounded up at least for now.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#271695)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Epignosis is a well respected member of the PA community and a known source for entertainment on the forum, so I was really curious if his music would reveal any other qualities then his well-known wit with words. I think the answer is a firm yes to that. His first release testifies of a lot of musical qualities, both in writing, arranging and performing. There are also a number of flaws though, or should I put it more gently and call them potential for growth?

The album is a solo effort, the fruit and labour of one single mind. But I must conclude that not all instruments have been given an equal portion of care. Epignosis is a guitar player first and foremost. Luckily he truly excels at it. I like his sound, his feel for timing, his sustain and his fluid playing. The quality of the guitar parts have made it really easy to keep returning to this album. I also fully approved of the keyboard arrangements. They are important in the overall sound and are handled very subtle and tasteful. The bass guitar is fine, if a little underused maybe.

To move towards the weaker points, I must say I am only half-enthused by the songwriting. Generally it is very adequate, showing many good ideas and dynamics. And none of the songs overstay their welcome. Still, they fail to fully convince me. It's partly due to some issues with the execution and recording of the material. There is simply not enough fire in this album. I feel that some of the instruments would have improved had they been handled by a dedicated player of the instrument. Also, the involvement of other musicians might have brought in a few more ideas to animate the compositions. So, if I may, I'd like to take this review in a slightly patronizing direction and fool around with a few ideas.

I have two problems with the vocals. The first is with the melodies themselves. I prefer more drama and passion in both delivery and melody. Sure, this one is a matter of taste. But there's another point which is harder to ignore. The vocals lack warmth, they sound insecure and they are slightly strained in the more intensive parts. Some more rehearsing or a few live gigs could improve them a lot.

But I would like to brainstorm around the idea of a guest singer. It may be a tough point to take of course. This is a one man effort and to entrust the vocals to another person is like leaving your baby in the care of others. But I was listening to Caravan the other day and I think this Sinclair fellow might do a great job here. He would be able to add warmth and sensuality to the tunes without dramatizing or changing them too much. Another option would be Geddy Lee. Really, that other day I was also listening to Geddy Lee's solo album and it hit me from which direction Epignosis' vocal inspiration might come from. Take Lee's solo song Slipping as an example, with the great dynamics and subtle emotive delivery of Lee, the melodies here could have had more impact.

Another point to address are the drum parts. To be blunt, they are dull; to be friendly, I'd say that most of the music flows well enough without even needing any drums. In fact, they are mixed to the background so that they don't intrude in the overall sound. Problem solved? Not really. The material might really get a boost from better developed drum parts. The challenge would be to find an inventive drummer that can also keep quiet every few minutes. No an easy catch obviously. Drummers usually are hyperkinetic busy-bodies that can't help ruffling up every blank space. So we sure wouldn't want Portnoy anywhere near this music. Maybe, it's a long shot, but why not Carl Palmer? He's always been my favourite of the ELP boys and on albums like Pictures at an Exhibition he has proven his ability not to drum when it's not needed. Of course, this might cost a few extra beers or the latest Wii console for virtual drumming to keep the man busy during the quiet parts.

Finally we will need a producer, someone with a good ear, capable to promote the best ideas and cover up the weaker parts, someone who can suggest alternative sounds or arrangement, in other words, a complementary mind that respects the artist original intent. Obviously I would like to suggest Steve Wilson but let's face it, that cooperation wouldn't be very fertile. Wilson would get kicked out of the studio from the moment he went like "Look Bob, why don't we use this big climatic wall of scary noise like I did on Insurge ... aargh!".

Right, I'm getting way out of line here. But I guess the ironic understatement (ehm overstatement) is quite clear. My point being that this album contains fine music, but it is hasn't gone beyond the rough outline of its possibilities. It doesn't deliver what it could have been. With the cooperation of a few other musicians and a professional production we might have been reviewing a much stronger end result.

For one thing, this album sure spurs lengthy reviews :-)

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#274342)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An escape through the waters?

Celebrating my 100th review in Progarchives, I decided to check the album from the popular and entertaining PA member Epignosis, aka Robert, aka Skelletor, among others.

This is a solo project, in which Robert played all the instruments and even the singing, with the little help of a drum machine to end up a kind of demo quality album worth to listen.

First of all, I want to point that the songwriting is great. All the riffs and phrasings merge well together and flows in a natural form from start to finish. It's a relaxed journey based on guitar moods and some nice keyboard setting up the ambience of this wonderful journey. This is interesting, especially for the guitars, he is a capable player and the songwriting lies on this instrument. If you notice, all the songs are quite long, but you don't feel it, as the songs move nice and smooth and is very contemplative music. Two songs jumped out and deserve special attention: Move and Still the Waters. Both are instrumentally interesting and stimulating. What I like in any album, but especially from those songs is that you can just close your eyes and let yourself go. I'm not used to Symphonic Prog but this music can be enjoyed by anyone who cares about music, sense and soul. It's all there.

Now, there's something that in the first time took me away from the journey: the vocals. It's evident that is a personal journey and Rob took the job of the vocals, but he is not a singer properly, so sometimes you can notice when he didn't reach the right notes and that sometimes took me away right back to Earth. Now, after more listening, it has grown a lot in me, and I can't complain that the vocals were a bad choice. Even if those are not 100% accurate, I see the intimateness of the music and I guess no one else can sing better besides the one who wrote the lyrics. It's growing with every listen and that's great. Here you have a flawed album, and that's OK because perfection isn't human at the end, so it gives a lot more of soul to the music.

The production is good, maybe the drums might have more life if he might used a human drummer, but well, this is his first album and I'm sure the next would be better in the production subject. The sounds, the effects and the mix are good (not great) but I have listened to a lot worse "professional" mixing, so there's no real problem there.

What I feel is that to taking the bold decision to make a complete individual solo effort is a brave decision and he achieved in most of the album. I'm looking forward to some new material in the future, as I'm sure all the quality decisions will be improved, and it will not depend only in the quality of the songwriting as this album happen to be.

Worth the listening, I really hope more people get this album on the map because you might have missed some good material. Now you know, don't expect the flawless masterpiece of Symphonic Prog, just a great down to Earth album with a lot of sense and soul. 3 1/2 stars is fair and looking forward to a new album. Good effort Rob. I really admire your job.

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Send comments to jampa17 (BETA) | Report this review (#276475)
Posted Monday, April 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars So i was checking out progarchives top 100 albums of every year from 2000 to 2009 lists in prog genre, just to check if i have them all (ego issues) and i found THIS. Epignosis is a one man project, as he told me "it took over three years to get all this done" which makes perfect sense, what you will find here is far from been 'a starter' debut album, this is a very well crafted jewel, a long aged wine if you wish.

A solid work which mixes some very noticeable influences (in my opinion) i can hear the old Genesis melancholic keyboard notes and camel's signature bass lines, very inspiring and melodic lyrics and overall a calm atmosphere which sets the ambient to some melodic, acoustic, symphonic mood.

Not to mention that it was recorded by one man only at his home, this is truly evidence of a big technical acknowledge and of course, fanaticism towards the progressive music.

"Still the Waters" by Epignosis is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest works of 2009.

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Send comments to Jörgemeister (BETA) | Report this review (#281070)
Posted Sunday, May 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you are someone like me who loves the emotional personal closeness of independent music then you are going to love this album (assuming you also like prog since you are on this website). If you are someone who likes to criticize independent artists and thinks Nursery Cryme is Genesis' worst album because of the production quality, then you should probably just pass on it. I completely agree with the reviewer who said that this album is great because the artist has put his heart and soul into it. The album is very emotional and very personal, especially in the guitar playing which I found to be really touching. There are also are a lot of very soothing beautiful passages that I would describe as being influenced a lot by post rock. In fact, just by looking at the album cover you can get a pretty good feel for the kind of mood this album is going to put you in. This is the perfect album for when I just want to relax and let someone take me on an emotional journey. Make no mistake, this is a prog album with a lot of complex passages and the artist is clearly talented, but if that is all you are looking for then this album may not be for you. If I had to give one criticism of the album it would be that sometimes he holds himself back with the vocals when he shouldnt. For some songs the subdued vocal style fits, but at other parts I really wanted to hear him take more risks vocally and push himself. At some points he did do this a little and I liked those parts a lot because for an independent artist he has a very good voice. Overall this is an excellent album that may not be for some prog listeners (like me in high school) but that I think most (like me now) will love. 4 stars

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Send comments to rpe9p (BETA) | Report this review (#281735)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars A visionary achievement of ambient textural landscapes and spiritually uplifting themes

Epignosis is the brainchild and vision of Robert W Brown Jr and it is not easy to make a debut album with so many ideas swimming in your head or not knowing where the musical direction will take you, but this release seems to be geared toward a solid ambience in the same vein as Anekdoten with some guitar work akin to Camel. The musicianship is accomplished and all played by the Robert himself so this in itself is a feat worthy of attention; three years in the making. The themes are based on Biblical principles and are Christian reflections on faith, life and love. For both these reasons I feel to award this 4 stars. But the production really lacks polish and at times the vocals need work in parts. But all this will come on subsequent releases. You have to start somewhere and these things can be forgiven as we concentrate on the sheer uplifting spirit of the album, the majesty of mellotrons and soaring guitars in a truly symphonic soundscape, with positive, thoughtful lyrics.

'Still The Waters' features echoing clean guitars under a lead solo in the foreground of the musical horizons. The sound is uplifting, beautiful and has textures of light and dark as the guitar becomes distorted in the instrumental section. A great start.

'A Pearl in a Field' is soaked with ethereal mellotron, and bass spilling over and dripping down the sides of the musical framework. The drums are a strong factor on this, and when the guitars clang in, the mood is set in stone. Vocals enter the soundscape and have a Christian thematic content making for some intensely relaxing and compelling music.

'Move' focuses on guitar picking and dominating organ. The vocals are well performed, clean and low, with some intriguing lyrics; "The evils of this world and my heart were intertwined, A stagnant heart, a stagnant mind, a stagnant hand of the confined, Blind from birth, deaf from the cradle, mute all my days, Teach me to see and hear and speak of your displays..." There is a sad melancholy feel as the vocals keep time with the clanging guitar using phased pedal effects. The lyrics cause one to reflect upon their faith or the existence of God and how hard it is to retain faith in an evil world.

'An Everlasting Kingdom' begins with acoustic with a Spanish flavour. Keyboards chime in with a dreamy atmosphere. The guitars sound excellent on this, very clean, spacey and soaring, and the odd time sig is carried by loud bass and drums with cymbal crashes. The organ features in an instrumental break and then a ton of piano with guitar sends the track into a lulling dreamscape.

'No shadow of Turning' is the prog epic with layered keyboards, some clean guitar and well executed volume swells to emphasise the ethereal atmosphere. The guitars are more spacey on this with a soundscape of majestic keyboard pads and a symphonic edge that lifts the sound to new levels. The bass is notable and all the piano runs are lovely. The vocals are gentle and reflective over an accomplished piano; "I'm afraid, And I'm so tired, Of ill meant for me, And kindness displayed, Is somebody here, Who will never go back on a promise he's made?" The vocals falter and are imperfect but there is nothing wrong with those lyrics; "This world's so full of shape-shifters' embraces, I see you're the one who'll never change faces, And though I'm a child, I keep on learning, In you there is love and no shadow of turning..." A fractured time sig here follows with great drum fills and mellotron. The instrumental break is a key feature with melodic guitars and a myriad of time shifts. The mellotron has an excellent timbre with huge dollops of symphonic sustained chords. The vocals are gently sung at first and then launch into a more aggressive sound with distorted guitars. The guitars crunch with excellent feedback and heavy basslines. The melody locks in with mellotron and picking guitar. This track clocks in at an epic 20 minutes and is a multimovement suite of lavish mood swings. It changes at 11 minutes in with a new feel and some interesting guitar effects, the harmonies of Robert's multilayered voice are well executed. He sings on the next section with a lot of emotional depth and I particularly love it when the lead guitar takes the helm. The synthesizer has a time to shine at 15 mins and there is a minimalist feel as acoustics and vocals merge in questioning faith and answering it in turn; "(Why should I put my faith in him?) He shows unfailing love (Just what defines who I am?) This promise I speak of (How can I blindly trust your God?) Faith is never blind (My stain is too deep and too broad) Not deeper than he is kind." The vocals are excellent on this track, perhaps due to the multi layered approach. The keyboards then play a sweet melody with distinct bass shapes, until the next question and answer vocalisation. The music swells to a majestic crescendo as the time sig shifts toward a closing denouement. It is easily the highlight of the album.

To end this review I can only say that there a number of factors on this album that stir my emotions and make this an excellent listen. It is symphonic, but not without some darker heavier guitars to release the ambience, like fire and ice. The lyrics are uplifting and Godly and I am all for that, especially when there are so many bands that turn to darker depressing themes to fuel their anger. The music on "Still the waters" is soothing, calm and spiritually touching. And lastly this is an amazing achievement from a solo artist, an incredibly talented one who can sing and play so many instruments; this reviewer is in awe.

It is said that if you have a fiery passionate vision, people will come from miles around to watch you burn; I am glad I had a privilege to feel the sparks of this fire.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#284702)
Posted Thursday, June 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3,5 stars, really. I really liked this album. It is Epignosis first and surely it shows great promise. Actually it is a one man band (Robert W. Brown, Jr. who plays all the instruments and sings). and while the guy is very talented and skilled, there are also some flaws on this record. First and foremost are the vocals: Brown is no singer. Ok, he does not blow it, but to this kind of music a ´real´ singer would enhance his work a lot instead of dragging it. He sounds sincere and passionate about his message. Yet, the vocals on this record are nowhere near the lush instrumental parts. The christian lyrics don´t bother me at all, since he is not really preachy and they are well done.

It would be noice to see him having a real band playing behind him. Or should I say a real good drummer along with a vocalist. The programmed drums always annoys me when i think of symphonic rock. Again the results are far from bad. But they could be improved a lot if a real skilled musician was provinding the beat. I just love the guitar solos and the bass and keyboards parts, clearly his strong points. His solos are very emotional, poingnant and beautiful. The songwriting is another nice find: captivating, varied and tasteful, he pays homage to his heroes of the the 70´s and still deliver a sound that is already very personal. There are no fillers, all tracks are very good and I hear this CD with great pleasure every time I put it on. The lack of a good vocalist and drummer is a letdown, though. But those faults are easy to fix. So is the rather lacklustre production. Still The Waters deserved a better technical recording.

Conclusion: musically excellent. I´d give it gladly four or even five stars if the vocals, drums and production were bettter. But it is only his first efford. I´m looking forward to hear his next releases. If you like symphonic prog rock with lots of great melodies and outstanding instrumental passages, you should not miss this one. I really hope this is only the beginning of a long and remarkable discography.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#285169)
Posted Saturday, June 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good music from a talented guy.

The Earth is full of talented musicians whose music must be spread all around the world, we have the luck of having this man Robert Brown as a collaborator of this site, because he besides reviewing and collaborating as an active member, shares his compositions with his Epignosis project. I won a free download from him some months ago and here is my review.

His debut album called "Still the Waters" was released in 2009 as an independent record, where five songs were included making a total time of 56 minutes. Here we can appreciate his talent as "one man band", and also a nice collaboration of his wife Tasha. The first song named "Still the Waters", the title track which is a vivid proof of his talent, the song starts with a charm and calm sound, nice acoustic guitars and a tranquil atmosphere, then the song changes a little with the introduction of electric guitars, there is a nice and far solo which sounds quite good there, also the addition of keyboards give a new sound to the song. Later it returns to that tranquil atmosphere. A nice song, but I have to admit that there are a couple of things that could be better in the future: one is the quality of the sound, I mean the production (and I am sure Robert knows it), and the vocals, which are not bad at all but honestly not the best.

"A Pearl in a Field" with a nice keyboard introduction which seconds later is accompanied by good drums, a couple of minutes like this and then just an acoustic guitar with vocals. A nice electric guitar a minute later and good synth whose comfortable sound can relax you, this time and being terribly honest I would have preferred this as a pure instrumental song.

"Move" is a nice song, a nice introduction with vocals and electric guitar, the rhythm changes a bit later but the first structure returns almost immediately, the vocals turn a bit more emotional. Worth mentioning there is a soft but nice keyboard element that sounds in some moments. At half the song there is a completely new and interesting sound with freaky keyboard sounds and nice drums. This change was necessary because the song was becoming boring, but with this it became actually more intriguing.

"An Everlasting Kingdom" has a beautiful sound, gentle acoustic guitar and keyboards as an introduction, then the tranquil and relaxing mood implemented by some "sea" effects and seconds later vocals appear producing a gentle and enjoyable sound which later will be completed with Tasha Brown's vocals, creating a community with Robert's voice and also with the music, provoking a smile on me. There is an interlude when things calm down (more) and you as a listener can close your eyes and imagine things, this is a very special and beautiful moment. But later drums appear and the direction changes all of a sudden, a guitar solo and the use of keyboards making a challenging symphonic sound catch the listener and don't let you go until the song is over. This is without a doubt my favorite song of the album, brilliant.

And the longest track (almost 20 minutes) is "No Shadow of Turning" the song that finishes this album. It is difficult to me to review a song this long because it has several short passages that should be mentioned, because Epignosis managed to create an elaborated composition where he put an extraordinary effort, and because I may bore the readers if I wanted to write about all details. This is the proggiest song of this album (not saying the others aren't) but the use of mellotron, those drums, the sound of the bass and the constant mood and rhythm changes don't let me lie. A salad of sounds, plenty of colors and textures represented here, an excellent song in my opinion.

Very nice debut with a couple of brilliant tracks, the others are good but have not clicked with me actually as I wished, however, I want to invite people to get closer with our fellow collaborator and musician Epignosis, he has good things to share. I am sure that in the future with a better production he will release memorable records. My final grade will be three stars.

Enjoy it!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#286050)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RPI
3 stars ''Squeal like a pig''

No, that quote from the movie ''Deliverance'' isn't word play on the artist's name. The thing is, I only recently joined ProgArchives so I missed the furore that this release apparently caused, including some nice accusations that you had to be inbred to find anything of worth on the album. I sure don't want to restart a flame war, but from what I can see Still The Waters is over-represented rather than over-rated here on PA. Not the same thing. One area of contention is the subject of Epignosis' vocals, but I've got to say they don't really bother me; I mean, it's not like he growls or anything! The first words I heard when I listened to this album were ''The wisest man ever known lived a long time ago''. Now, that line from A PEARL IN A FIELD isn't quite up there with ''Can you tell me where my country lies'' but it's memorable enough for me to find myself singing it a bunch of the time.

I heard the album as a download so I'm not sure about the intended running order for the songs, but PEARL is the perfect track to open Still The Waters. It starts with two repeated notes that sound like a fanfare, before the drums thunder in like Bonham's ''When The Levee Breaks'' juggernaut. Then that notorious fill appears! Ok, a lot of the drums are a bit of a problem on this album. At times they try to be too busy and don't fill the right spaces, whereas on the title-track they only manage to keep the most basic of beats along with the occasional cymbal crash. Unfortunately the drums take away from the overall vibe in a way that the vocals never do. PEARL ends with a great guitar fade and I would've been as happy as a pig in the proverbial if this solo had been much longer.

Aside from the drums, my other criticism with this album is in relation to the song structures. There's just too much going on at times and the epic NO SHADOW OF TURNING is the main culprit. There are without question some good ideas on this song but overall it seems to lack cohesion. I've been listening solidly for several weeks and I'm still finding it hard to get a handle on it, although I couldn't accuse it of ever being boring. I'm much more comfortable with a song like MOVE. The first half is fairly straightforward with repeated parts and an incredible keyboard motif (that willowy, withering sound pushes the right buttons!). The second part has a definite ''Cinema Show'' feel and some great crunchy guitar licks. Nice. Everything is good on this song and even the drums are tight which helps the song flow nicely.

Epignosis shows good potential here and this is an album that I will happily re-visit; I can think of many albums by established artists that I never want to hear again. I guess that liking this makes me inbred too, but isn't personal taste a great thing? ''Deliverance'' was about a journey into unknown and dangerous waters, the antithesis of a stay in these here waters.

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Send comments to seventhsojourn (BETA) | Report this review (#288738)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
JJLehto
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Ah, refreshing to listen to some grassroots music. "Still the Waters" is the debut release of Epignosis, a one man band, (which always makes it more impressive!) along with some guest vocals. Where to start? This is an impressive piece of music. It is a very guitar and keyboard heavy work, and indeed these instruments drive most of the album and are the focal point. The instrumentation is very good, Mr. Brown is a talented musician.

However, there is more to an album than skill of course. How much music have you heard that was obviously talented but you just didn't feel it? Luckily, this is not an issue. While musical skill is clearly present, so is compositional skill. The songs are lovely, and well crafted. There are wonderful sections and the flow is perfect. Perhaps the strongest point of the music is its atmosphere. Each section has great ambiance. Some particularly strong moments are halfway through the opening track. After a chillingly mellow section, followed by an acoustic bridge, some heavy guitar comes in over the continuing acoustic guitar while some aquatic sounding keys are over it. Aquatic is the feeling it gave me at least. A great place to just lean back and absorb it all in.

Another nice one is in the second half of "An Everlasting Kingdom" in which heavy guitar is played under a spacey, than almost 70's esque southern rock keyboard solo. There are many of these throughout the album so I singled out two I enjoy, but there are many. I don't want to give too much away now! I also do enjoy the heavier guitar is used because it has a very raw feeling to it, and contrasts with the rest of the album, especially when milder keyboard is being played over it. Speaking of guitar, the solo's are some of the best moments. They are always well placed and emotional. There is a real power you can feel behind them. Most importantly, while the guitar solo's do stand out, (as they should) it is balanced with great music under it.

Now onto the vocals. Personally, I like them. Brown has a very nice voice. More than just that, they quite often fit the music perfectly. However, this is one area that could use some improvement. Sometimes they sound a bit forced, or just not quite right. Early on in "An Everlasting Kingdom" is one example, as well as the first half of "No Shadow of Turning". However, the vocals are not bad at all, in fact they are quite lovely. As the case with many debut albums, this is sure to improve in the future.

The only real complaint I can give this album is the drumming. Now as an ardent and long time drummer, I will admit I can be overly critical. However, the drums are not a major part of this album at all. They are adequate, but that is all. Though there are some nice moments, the drumming is generally simple beat keeping and follows along with the music strictly. While that is the primary job, and there is nothing wrong with it, there is also nothing about that it stands out at all over the whole album. The actual quality of the drums is a bit poor, and sounds like it was done with a drum machine/program. This is understandable given the circumstances, however it would be something that could greatly improved on in the future, if possible.

Overall this is a great album. The music is solid. In fact more than solid at many times. The songs are very well composed with great sections, flow and overall feel. There are moments when the music can drag a bit, especially in the longer songs, but it never goes too long. While the music is good, this album is greater than the sum of its parts. That is what makes this album a four over a three and a half, the atmosphere. It really pulls everything together and can really take you away at times.

A great album. Well played, constructed and thought out. While I have spoke about the ambiance and feel the music itself is more than just atmospheric. There is physical talent abundant, and some superb guitar solos. Great construction for a debut. The vocals are nice, but could use some improvement and a drummer could seriously be used. Cymbal rolls are times when I cringe at the sound. However, I do understand it may be difficult to get a human drummer at the time. I'd be willing to volunteer myself for the future ; )

A solid, fresh, atmospheric and well composed symphonic prog album. Definitely recommended.

3.5 Stars

BUMP: FOUR STARS

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Send comments to JJLehto (BETA) | Report this review (#291925)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
2 stars Epignosis is no other than American multi-instrumentalist Robert W. Brown Junior.For his first work he handles all guitars,keys,drums and bass with only a vocal contribution by his wife Tasha on one track.The album named ''Still the Waters'' saw the light in 2009 as an indepedent release.

The album is on the mellower side of progressive rock with strong melodic content,long acoustic parts and often symphonic textures.The first couple of tracks actually come in an acoustic vein with a very lyrical approach and only sparse electric solos,while organ and mellotron are just supporting the music.''Move'' is another soft track of accurate but non-risky playing,heavily vocal-based but with a glimpse around the middle with good keyboard work and a nice electric solo.''An Everlasting Kingdom'' starts again in a calm vocal -oriented mood and after the middle some decent sounds of guitars,trippy synths and keyboards in a light symohonic style will add this some needed color.The 20-min. ''No Shadow of Turning'' is pretty much the highlight of the album.Finally here is a track with some nerve and grandiosity,plenty of good breaks,loads of mellotron and varied guitar work in a Classic Symphonic Prog style.

Two are the main problems of ''Still the waters'':Firstly come the below average,almost atonal vocals of Mr.Brown,which push the level of the album down due to its heavy vocal content.Secondly comes the very safe and smooth playing on most of it and the lack of surprises that progressive rock feeds the listener.Still the epic of the album deserves a good promotion,showing Mr. Brown has the potential to be a very good composer.If these problems are solved,I excpect a pretty outstanding comeback of him...2.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#550729)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Still the Waters" is the debut full-length studio album by US progressive rock act Epignosis. The album is a self-released affair. Epignosis is the brainchild of Robert W. Brown, Jr., who handles all intruments and vocals on the album. Tasha Brown delivers a guest vocal performance on "An Everlasting Kingdom" but other than that "Still the Waters" is the epitome of a one-man project.

"Still the Waters" is a 5 track, 56:00 minutes long album, with all 5 tracks exceeding the 7 minutes mark. The music is symphonic progressive rock done the American way, which means that the influences come from both the big British names but also from US artists like Kansas, Neal Morse (with whom Epignosis share a Christian lyrical approach) and Spock's Beard. Some parts of the instrumental delivery are relatively skillfully played (the keyboards and the guitars) without standing out as anything special within the genre, but the drums on the album are not very well played. They are very basic and quite lifeless to listen to and as a result the music is generally lacking dynamics. The melody lines are not that memorable either, which of course aren't helped along by the rather flat and monotone vocal delivery. Robert W. Brown, Jr. often sounds uncomfortable and strained beyond his capabilities. The material generally aren't that exciting and especially the monotone and way too long opening track score low in my book. To my ears the closing 19:48 minutes long "No Shadow of Turning" is the highlight of the album. That's probably because that's the track that succeeds best in imitating 70s symphonic prog. I especially hear some obvious Genesis references in that track.

The sound production is not what I would call of professional quality. It obviously lacks the hands and critical ears of a professional producer. It sounds flat and lacks dynamics. The vocals, the drums, the bass and the clean guitars sound especially below standard.

I usually hail the whole romantic DIY approach to creating music and sometimes I pick up self-released albums, that are fully on par with professional label releases, which is of course a great treat to get either for free or at a "Name Your Price" tag. "Still the Waters" falls into the other catagory of self-released albums, and that's the amateur self-released catagory. Some of those releases can still be greatly enjoyable because they can be full of adventurous and daring ideas, but quite often they are mared by poor execution and bad sound productions and I guess I feel "Still the Waters" applies to that description. A 2 star (40%) rating is warranted.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#1022728)
Posted Saturday, August 24, 2013 | Review Permalink

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