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Beggars Opera - Touching The Edge CD (album) cover


Beggars Opera

Symphonic Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The second chapter in the story of the comeback by Scottish progressive rock band Beggars Opera continues pretty much where the first one left off. This time around we're treated to a quirkier product than their previous effort though. Especially the first half of the album tends to focus on the use of subtle dissonances and dampened challenging features, at times reminding slightly of King Crimson and at others actually sounding a bit like Rush, especially on the number Frozen on an Eye.

After this effort we're served four even more elaborately made creations, of the kind that I have marked down as brilliant stuff but not describable. Art rock for sure, challenging, but no direct references in terms of associations or subgenre placement easily made. Almost as good and totally different is the last effort Auschwitz, a slow majestic affair featuring a rich symphonic backdrop with a delicate guitar solo on top slowly fluctuating with subtle alterations in timbre and intensity, with a brief vocal passage at the midway point and the very end.

Overall a very strong effort that should have a strong appeal for those who like sophisticated art rock featuring touches of subtle finesse rather than outright and upfront challenging features.

Report this review (#288903)
Posted Friday, July 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Touching

Having made a surprise return to recording a year earlier, Beggar's Opera (or at least a band bearing that name) reconvened a year later with an unchanged line up. 'Close to my heart' had represented a radical change in direction, and that new direction is maintained with this set. The vocals are once again in the hands of Virginia Scott , whose style is well suited to this collection.

Generally slightly shorter and more pop orientated, the songs here still have ambitious arrangements. Ricky Gardiner's guitar seems heavier this time, especially on the opening 'Dancer in the Wind'. Virginia Scott's vocals are strongly reminiscent of those of Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries, indeed a number of the songs here could be mistaken for that band.

'Attraction gaze' features what I believe is the first appearance of sax on a Beggar's Opera album, the curiously named Ajijo being the guest musician. The sax returns on the dreamy 'Frozen on an Eye', a track of many simultaneous moods and sounds.

'I Lie There' has a light, at times folk feel, the lead guitar phrases being suitably whispy with complementary sax coming later. 'I Wanted to Tell You' is the happiest track on the album, with a fine melody being complemented by multi-tracked vocals and a variety of guitar and keyboard fills. ' River Over Me' maintains the energy, driven along a a fine pace by heavy drums.

The album closes with something radically different. Recorded some time previously, this 16' minute piece has little in common with the music of this album and its predecessor. 'Auschwitz' captures the atmosphere of that notorious location vividly through some poignant lead guitar which eventually leads into atmospheric female voice. While apparently out of place on the album, the track stands alone as a fine coda to any performance.

In all, a second excellent album from the reformed and redefined Beggar's Opera. While leaning more towards simpler song structures, the arrangements remain inventive and captivating.

Report this review (#412760)
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | Review Permalink

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