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Echolyn - As The World CD (album) cover



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Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Very eclectic. Echolyn's single shot at the Big Time, sadly, lack of support from Sony nearly sank their ship. Echolyn uses many different sounds and styles, heavy on the theater production, but they owe a huge debt to Gentle Giant. The harmonies and syncopated rhythms are astounding and sometimes you wish they'd stay in one melody line for more than a few bars. An incredible work.
Report this review (#1831)
Posted Thursday, December 11, 2003 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whew!! So many different directions and time changes in this music!! Never the same, always an adventure to listen to. Fast to slow, soft to loud, lush to minimal, powerful to gentle. This will challenge even the most discerning progressive fan. IMHO, Echolyn is America's premier prog group. One terrific cd!!
Report this review (#1834)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Founding Moderator
4 stars Echolyn is to Gentle Giant as Marillion is to Genesis: If there had never been a Gentle Giant, then Echolyn would have been Gentle Giant (at least, from Interview forward, and particularly the Missing Piece period); however, if Gentle Giant had never existed, then Echolyn would not exist. That said, I must say that I'm extremely impressed by this album. Indeed, between the creativity and the musicianship, I defy any true progger to come away from this UN-impressed. However, three things prevent my giving this album a fifth star. First, although the vast majority of the material is excellent, the band is not consistently successful in "filtering" GG into something truly new; some of it even has a sort of blase nonchalance. Second, although they clearly had fun with much of this, there is a "journeyman" quality to some (I said "some") of the writing and playing that makes it less than "immediate" and exciting. As well, some of the sections and segues sound "forced." And while the lead vocalist is good, he has almost no "charisma." Finally, unlike GG, these guys don't play their own string parts - most of which are actually quite good, and appropriate in the places they are used. All of that said, this album should impress even the most jaded progger, and deserves a place in all permanent collections. I look forward to hearing more of Echolyn's music.
Report this review (#1836)
Posted Friday, March 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars ECHOLYN lived far too short a life in prog years for me, but the legacy is a couple of highly complex and thorough records of which "As The World" is the most complete package. ECHOLYN delivers highly complex prog which is always busy and needs a lot of listening attention to grasp. This demanding music is full of tempo changing and mood shifts. Vocals are incredible and harmony is used in a similar fashion to that of GENTLE GIANT. The musicianship is exceptionally high and all members deliver a top notch performance.
Report this review (#1837)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wouldn't give it 5 stars, but it's too darn good. Simply because this record is TOO THICK. Mastering it is the main challenge, not liking it. Because you will like it, sooner or later. The voyage inside this album is really long and complex. But do they had to make it so darn long? Noel Gallagher from Oasis said: "The challenge is not to make 70 minutes, it's to make 70 good minutes". Frankly, it starts pretty heavy, with lots of winks to Gentle Giant (vocally, their main influence) and curiously, it doesn't pant too much in the end!

Funny thing, the lyrics are strangely too close to the thoughts and feelings of a teenage kid who is about 15 years old. What's wrong guys? Got laugh at in your high school years? Probably, if you liked progressive rock!

The need to listen and relisten and re-relisten is a key. I was a bit insecure by the fact that I was buying something from the early 90's (read Dream Theater frenzyness). I actually bought it, sold it and repurchased it. After selling it, songs suddently popped in my head. I was saying:" Man, this record really hooked me without knowing it!" It has the feel of the 90's. I can't describe it but it feels 90's just like when you listen to Pearl Jam's Ten. The Gentle Giant feel is present on certain songs technically, but vocally, the style is often revisited for the enjoyment of everyone.

Overall, lots of good songs ( over 10 for sure) with breaks and quick starts. The more I listen to it, the more I hate myself for throwing it away before. At first it could make you think that you made a bad purchase, but YOU REALLY DIDN'T!

Report this review (#1826)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A bit inferior than the masterpiece "Suffocating the Bloom", nevertheless it's more accessible, as well as enriched with interesting spare references to bands such as GENTLE GIANT. Listen for example to the first stunning section of the title track, characterized by some beautiful strings and their excellent vocal harmonization, within the introduction of "As the World"!! Thanks to this track you can understand their true music root!! Besides the powerful guitar and the excellent interplay with the keyboards till the end, make the song alone well worth checking out. Moreover the Hammond solo inside is fine, while the other shocking instrumental piece of "fusion-progressive art" is represented by "The Wiblet", with a sudden and breathtaking change of time signatures!! The other tracks have a romantic mood, often represented by tasteful ballads, nevertheless the label "Sony" obliged them at the time of their studio recording to perform such accessible stuff and they decided to find a suitable compromise in between.

Recommended,even though it is not completely essential, being often memorable (however before this one look for "Suffocating the Bloom")

Report this review (#1827)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On their 1995 release AS THE WORLD, U.S. outfit Echolyn have convincingly rekindled the torch formerly borne by their English forebears Gentle Giant. To attempt to follow in the gargantuan footsteps of such distinguished progressive luminaries would be an audacious move, and doomed to failure, if Echolyn were only average musicians and songwriters. Yet, on this fine album, Echolyn demonstrate that they possess the goods to carry it off; their ambitious creative reach does not exceed their musical grasp!

Most, if not all of the elements that made Gentle Giant so appealing to their fervent fans are delightfully present here, from breathtaking vocal harmonies and acrobatics, sudden time changes, superb musicianship and great guitar and keyboards, to diverse song structures and intelligent lyrics. In fact, perhaps the only thing lacking, when Echolyn are compared to their progenitors, is the sheer trail-blazing uniqueness that "Giant" represented. Still, when one considers that Gentle Giant's creative peak had passed some twenty years before the release of AS THE WORLD, many of the original's more ardent and open-minded followers will be eager for a new serving from a similar menu. Nor are Echolyn content to merely mimic their chief source of inspiration. Instead, they have imparted their own flavours and nuances to the mix, such as lush orchestration to further sweeten the pot.

That orchestration is put to particularly good effect on the lovely closing track. There are no "dud" songs here, but "Never the Same" is perhaps my favourite of a very strong set. The moving and thoughtful lyrics deal with no lesser theme than that of life and its inevitable end. As we are all mortal, and have to face the loss of loved ones, I believe the following lines from the chorus to be worthy of reproduction:

"Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there -- I did not die. I say to you I will see you again on the other side, some day. After the song is over, the dance goes on, so dance away. When all has been said and done, remember what's been given -- not taken away...."

Thus, I give the excellent AS THE WORLD a rating of four stars, and urge the curious to check out the band's MP3s which are available here (including "How Long I Have Waited," from the album currently under review). It is also noteworthy, as an additional incentive to the reluctant, that the disc offers sixteen tracks, and over seventy minutes of quality listening. That's a rather generous helping, and a lot of challenging music to absorb in a single sitting, but there is nothing to stop the listener from spreading the experience out over two or three sessions. As with chicken wings, pizza or beer, I for one would prefer to have more than I immediately need, rather than not enough: the leftovers will be just as tasty and appreciated the next day! I heartily recommend AS THE WORLD to more adventurous and open-minded fans of progressive rock. A terrific album -- for my tastes!

Report this review (#1828)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Unless you have better sensory processing skills than I, you'll need to listen to "As the World" at least three times before you even start to hear everything that's going on. The lyrics, which are intelligent and complex, lead rather than follow the band. The song structures are unconventional, yet comfortable; the transitions are smooth and there is little filler. The musicians are adept and have an extensive range of organic tones, so the songs rarely sound too similar.

"As the World" and "Audio Verite" are frank, irritated studies of personal identity with unique vocal parts and harmonies. "Uncle" is a disturbing childhood narrative that voyages through a wide range of arrangements- including a very "Close to the Edge" sounding transition into the musings of "How Long I Have Waited". "Best Regards" and "My Dear Wormwood" seem to juggle pop- rock and jazz- rock leanings in a playful but earnest way, sometimes sounding like a more focused and jazzy PHISH and sometimes like a more lysergic POLICE. "The Cheese Stands Alone" has an even more humorous touch, in an anglo- Zappa vein (but with a bit more subtlety). "One For the Show" is more dramatic, a desperate and driving nostalgia epic not unlike an early Tori Amos composition ("Silent All These Years", "Winter"). "The Wiblet" initially struck me as filler, but it certainly confirms the prog status of the band. "Settled Land" starts more laidback but with a desperate, witty edge (I'll take a longshot bet that they have heard a song or two by THE SMITHS) and, oddly, quotes Stephen King. With a subtle but pervasive jazz influence, chord structures never seem to develop as expected; they find new ways to resolve melodic lines and this sense of the unexpected keeps the sometimes flat sonic textures from seeming bland. The piano parts are some of the best I've heard, occasionally bringing to mind Emerson's playing (compare the piano in "A Habit Worth Forming" with "Take a Pebble" for instance). The singer is dryly effective; his phrasing sometimes make me wonder how serious he is about his growing-up angst (and whether the occasional British accent is an affectation)- once in a while I'm reminded of the music of Trey & Matt(the South Park guys) and that only makes me more unsure of his intent- there's a post-modern feeling about the lyrics, not quite ironic but seeming to imply something other than what they say. Indeed, the entire band sounds much more modern than the actual instruments and influences would indicate; they are neither retro nor trendy- they occupy a space apart. There are some stylistic left turns; "Never the Same" is strikingly different- almost a classic rock ballad with exquisite strings and delicate harmonies (preluded in- what else: "Always the Same"). "Letters: Prose" is a disarmingly gossamer interlude and "A Short Essay" starts by musically resembling one of the piano-and-Freddy moments from QUEEN's first album- and is one of the most lovely songs of the bunch, culminating in an almost torch-song coda. "Entry 11-19-93" sounds like a modern take on "In My Room" but is far more interesting than most of what Brian Wilson ever wrote.

In fact, 'interesting' is how I'd characterize the sound- not in the "I'll set you up with my friend, she's interesting" sense but rather the "I'm not sure I'll buy it yet but keep talking" sense. There aren't many powerful moments in the music- mostly it's a little too almost-cerebral to be truly moving- but often they achieve at least a complex ambivalence, and sometimes really surprise you with the extent of their range. It's an admirable achievement and perfect for anyone (except maybe the hardcore metalheads) who wants to be reassured of the potential of modern prog.

(by the way, it was pretty hard to write about these guys without mentioning GENTLE GIANT, but I wanted to prove it could be done...oops, I guess I just blew that one)

Report this review (#1838)
Posted Wednesday, June 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
4 stars Defining the sound of this American band is quite complicated. We can talk about a blend of YES, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, KING CRIMSON and even LED ZEPELLIN, but still, we will be short of compliments regarding the fresh and original sound of one of the best progressive rock bands of the nineties that was unfairly disregarded by its record label, Sony Music, which acquired the copyrights upon this band to be canned up eventually and never edit them again, turning the band into material for completionists only.

Created and interpreted in 1995 by Christopher BUZBY (keyboards, vocals), Tom HYATT (bass), Brett KULL (guitar and vocals), Paul RAMSEY (percussions) and Ray WESTON (lead vocals), "As the World" proves that it is not imperative for songs to last more than six minutes to be considered as progressive; the disc is composed of 16 cuts which durations vary from 0:36 to 7:54 and with musical humors that go from a ballad to metal.

ECHOLYN is one of the few prog rock bands where the combination of voices makes us forget for a moment about the instruments; the vocals by WESTON, KULL and BUZBY are energetic and melodic, briefly and in short musical passages they can remind us of Peter HAMILL or even Peter GABRIEL. The rhythm led by the songs turns out to be frenetic with some changes that seem to be impossible to coordinate with more than two instruments.

"As the World" is the last ECHOLYN studio album, afterwards the members decided to form other bands like DARK AETHER PROJECT and FINNEUS GAUGE. By 2000, WESTON, BUZBY and KULL got back together to play at the NEARfest Festival even though in the beginning they didn't want to perform as ECHOLYN, the strength and the nostalgia made them readopt the name and go for it once again. 100% recommendable.

Report this review (#1839)
Posted Friday, July 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This band's music has been compared to that of GENTLE GIANT. Well I'm not a fan of GENTLE GIANT, which may explain why I find the music on this album very good, but not stellar. That said, I actually prefer it to the music of GENTLE GIANT and have grown to enjoy this album over the last year.

The musicianship is unquestionable, the playing is tight, the music full of fast time and pitch changes (not necessarily a good thing in itself, in my book), the use of instruments excellent - particularly the guitar and keyboards - and yet for many months it did not excite me. I could listen to the album in the background and did find it quite pleasing, but it didn't really click with me for over a year.

There are some lovely melodies interspacing the sometimes frantic playing. I'm a moderate fan of Canadian band BARENAKED LADIES and find the music on this album reminds me a little of that band's music, although the music of ECHOLYN is more complex. 'The Cheese Stands Alone' reminds me of Oogie Boogie's song in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas! Like fellow reviewer James Lee, I too found the beginning of 'A Short Essay' reminiscent of QUEEN, but that's where the similarity in the two bands' music ends.

A year ago I was torn between giving this album 3 and 4 stars and ended up rating it as a 3-star album (Good, but non-essential). Even then I could see that for many it is a 4-star (or even a 5-star) album as the quality of the music screams out at you. If you've never heard this album I would recommend that you listen to some tracks (MP3?) to check them out - you may well find that it immediately hits the spot. It didn't quite for me, but I can bet that it will for many. Anyway, it interested me enough to buy the CD and over the period of a year the music has grown on me to the extent that I now feel the album really does deserve a 4-star rating (Excellent addition to any progressive music collection). I don't change my mind easily, either. A bit of a hidden gem of the 1990s, really.

Report this review (#1840)
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars As The World is one of my all time favourite albums. I bought it "on spec" having read one brief review and I hope this review encourages people to follow my lead. I was capivated on first listen and it was a revelation in the mid-90s to discover a band that provoked the same excited response from me that I remember when first hearing ELP, Yes and Genesis. Not that Echolyn's music is particularly comparable to the aforementioned. The music is undoubtedly what would be termed "progressive" rock but I don't feel the usual criticisms of that genre can be applied to Echolyn. The album is full of great songwriting, arrangements and musicianship and is very moving at times - romantic and reflective and veering from the delicate and beautiful to loud and aggressive. There isn't a weak track or dull moment among the 16 that make up this fine album.

Report this review (#1842)
Posted Tuesday, February 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is simply the best prog release of the decade, possibly the best since the mid-70s. It combines the best moments of Gentle Giant, without the dissonance, and the melodicism of Yes. The vocal harmonies are the best I've ever heard, and the contrapuntal arrangements are breathtaking. The compositions are punchy, with few solos (I personally have nothing against solos), very jazzy yet not fusionny. Lyrically, it seems to encapsulate growing up and dying in America, but is very down to earth and non-pretentious (not that there's anything wrong with bombast either, I like Tarkus as much as the next progger). Sadly, they would break up after this album, but reformed in 2000 and as I write this are recording their first album in 10 years with this lineup.
Report this review (#1843)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album received less attention from me when I purchased it because I thought the music was too complex and less melodic as compared to neo prog music when at that time in 1998 was my major mood in prog music. Sometimes I spun it for a change when I needed something different but it never got my full attention merely due to the melody issue. I expected all prog bands should sound something like early Marillion or IQ Ever / Subterranea. But I was wrong, I learned from Echolyn (and of course Finneus Gauge) that excellent prog albums do not necessary require nice melody. And, Echolyn is a good example for this. The chief reason I grabbed this album from my CD shelf was because of my astonishment toward the great performance by the band through their latest DVD set "Stars and Gardens". Any prog fan should own this DVD, I think. It's a highly recommended prog DVD. A masterpiece.

As The World represents the true characteristic of Echolyn's music: a blend of rock, fusion and avant-garde. All elements and styles merge beautifully even though mostly are not melodic. It does not necessary mean it's not enjoyable because, in fact, most compositions are excellent - combining complex arrangements, high energy and frequent tempo changes. I think the joy of enjoying this album is in fact on the non- melodic-ness of most songs. Why? Because they usually contain complex textures, styles and arrangement but when they are combined together they form a great harmony. That's the strong point of Echolyn's music. Echolyn's music is original. There might be bit influences from bands like Gentle Giant - especially on choirs part, Hatfield and The North, National Health, Caravan or even Genesis. But it's not really obvious influences as far as my ears can detect. As colleague collaborator James Lee put this "Unless you have better sensory processing skills than I, you'll need to listen to "As the World" at least three times before you even start to hear everything that's going on", I also had to spin even five times before I could get the music. Too complex? It is.

All tracks featured in this CD are excellent and favor my personal taste (remember: I was grown-up with mostly melodic prog bands like Genesis "Firth of Fifth" or Marillion "Script for A Jester's Tear"!). The album opener All Ways The Same is basically short overture exploring excellent keyboard work. It flows seamlessly to album title track As The World (4:50) in energetic way, fast tempo and many tempo changes. The high energy Weston vocal line has lifted up the energy of this track. Again, even though it's not a melodic song, this track is really great. I like the short part that contains a kind like a musical break followed with inventive guitar, bass and keyboard work in complex arrangement. Uncle (6:54) starts off with solid bass lines followed with guitar work. When vocal enters, the guitar fills at the back. Some choirs may remind you to Gentle Giant even though it's performed in different style. The keyboard solo is really stunning, accompanied with great rhythm section by other instruments. This song is somewhat complex in structure - but it's really nice!

Another track that makes me stunned is The Cheese Stands Alone (4:48). It opens with voice line and music start together in relatively fast tempo with high energy and rhythm section. The arrangement is bit complex with some discrete sounds of guitars, keyboard and dazzling drums. Guitar sound is not typical guitar solo you usually hear but it's wonderful. Some lyrical parts are sung together and they produce excellent choirs that remind me to Gentle Giant. This album also contains an epic Letter that is formed by five songs from Prose to One For The Show.

In summary, it's a very rewarding album, an excellent addition to any prog collection. It has tight composition with complex arrangements and structures, and powerful songwriting. On musicianship, it's no doubt at all. This band has a great vocalist, talented guitar player, great bass player, wonderful keyboardist and great drummer. Maybe, you can observe through this album that the drum is played dynamically with some snare drum sounds similar to Bill Bruford's. My overall rating for this album is 4+ out of 5 stars. Highly recommended and original prog album! Keep your passion for prog!

Progressively yours,

GW - Review #312

Arrogance has no friend! - Echolyn "As The World"

Report this review (#35626)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First off. This is NOT a remaster of the 1995 release of As the World. Sony finally gave the masters back to the band and, since it has been Out of Print (OOP) for a long time, the band re-release it with new art-work and a live DVD of a concert performed at the RITZ in Roseville Michigan, just outside Detroit.

As the World is simply one of the best prog releases during the 1990's. Powerhouse tunes like the title track, Dear Mr. Wormwood, Uncle and the Cheese Stands Alone, are wonderful pieces that should be played loud from every progholes car when idling at a streetlight on a warm summer day. Hell, if it's snowing, roll down them wndows and crank it! These are songs of rebellion, standing up in the face of mediocrity, facing your fears, expressing your individuality. Playing prog in an age when sex sells. Get the point?

The DVD is a low budget local access cable station recording this event and the camera work shows. Just when Brett Kull rips into his SG, they pan to Ray Weston reaching for a cup of water, or some liquid beverage. No close ups of Tom Hyatt on bass and Paul Ramsey stays hidden behind his kit throughout. A few good close ups of Chris Buzby's busy fingers pop up here and there. But what is really important, at least for me, is the chance to see Echolyn at this point of their career, right before SONY gives them the big wazzoo. These guys are tight. Not just because the are crammed on a small stage, but musically and vocally, they explode and bring these tunes to life. Kull and Weston are one of the best singing duos I've heard in a long time. Pulling off tough harmonies, hitting high notes with power. Sure, there's a few clams, but they rock on without looking back. Tom Hyatt really smokes whenever the mix smooths out enough to hear him clearly. The audio track is pretty good for a raw show, such as this. "Here I Am" and "21" from Suffocating the Bloom are played along with many of the ATW tracks.

The packaging is new, but I would have to say that the shrunken head cover of the original was much better. Unfortunately, the lyrics aren't included. No real extras in the packaging, except for an excerpt from Greg Kulls poem, the Anatomy of Man. I hate to say it, but expected more in the packaging, like photos, or lyrics.

To sum it up. If you already own ATW, this is NOT essential, unless you really want to see them live. If you don't, this is a MUST for a true proghole. As the World is one of the best modern prog albums, period.

Report this review (#42663)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars While I don't feel that As the World quite lives up to Suffocating the Bloom, I still deem it to be an overall exciting album by a band striving to gain wider acceptance.

Consider what popular music in the U.S. was like at the time. The initial grunge wave had subsided, but a host of "alternative" bands, bands that would have been deemed too weird or quirky five years earlier, had been swept up by the major record labels. It's really a shame that echolyn didn't get to go along for the ride, as this album deemed them more than worthy, but perhaps the music was just too complicated for mass consumption.

The production of this album strikes me as remarkable even now. Every instrument and every vocal has a richness to it that wasn't possible on the earlier efforts. The keyboards and synthesizers provide some truly spine-tingling textures at times. The vocal harmonies also come to the forefront here; I frequently enjoy singing along to many of these songs in the car.

Unlike Suffocating the Bloom, there is no apparent all-encompassing theme here, other than the "Letters" tracks in the middle, which are loosely linked together in a life-cycle progression. Some of the lyrical subjects tread on familiar ground along the lines of the previous albums. Compositionally, the melodies are fairly strong, though perhaps a little edgier. I have noticed that several of the tracks seem to have an obligatory "random" sounding section in the middle, which can seem to disrupt the flow of the songs somewhat. But the instrumentals are played meticulously as always.

I think that the aftermath of this album, namely the band getting dropped by Sony and breaking up soon after, adds some weight to the urgency of the material. This is a band trying to prove themselves, with mostly positive and some negative effects. It smacks of the pressure to succeed, and for the most part, it does.

Report this review (#87358)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply one of the best albums ever released under the banner of prog. Filled with breathtaking three part harmonies, tight and groundbreaking compositions, and joyous melodies, this Pennsylvania quintet created a timeless work of art before a major label worked them to the ground and bankrupted them. So it goes. From thefirst second of the introductory string overture to the swirling chorus of "Never the Same" fades out, the band doesn't make a single misstep as they broaden their song based contrapuntal, complex flights of fancy to include smooth sophisticated jazz pop ("How Long I Have Waited"), foam at the mouth braggadacio ("The Cheese Stands Alone"), and orchestrated torch songs ("Entry 11.19.93"). The band combines a bookish love of jigsaw puzzle chords and avant garde compositional touches (Chris Buzby is one of the few songwriters in rock brave enough to go 12 tone) with the pure joy of rocking out. The combination of "The Wiblet" and "Audio Verite" illustrate how these opposing impulses lock together perfectly in a listener friendly 5 minute package with Stravinsky gone Beach Boy vocals. Their lyrics are a romantic contemplation of right versus wrong, covering the 1992 election (the title track), CS Louis' writing ("My Dear Wormwood"), verbally abusing hipsters ("Audio Verite" again), and a loss ("Never the Same"). Every song on this cd has been my favorite on the album at some point, a distinction it only shares with "Pet Sounds," "Murmur," and "The Rotter's Club."
Report this review (#120460)
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the album recorded for Sony, the record company that sadly let Echolyn down regarding promotion. With hindsight we can now see they weren't the only ones to suffer as Sony ran their label into the ground on the instructions of their bean counters. The common consensus is it was some kind of tax write-off. Lemmy's Motorhead (see his bio) and even George Michael (ugh) suffered at their hands too around the same time.

But back to the business at hand. From the opening bars 'As The World' promises to be something different. It's plainly obvious that any band that incorporates soaring harmonies into its songs has gone that extra mile in search of something to please the ear.

As the recording unfolds it's clear the guys have decided to up the pace a little compared to earlier offerings such as 'Suffocating the Bloom.' Overall we're presented with songs many of which have an almost staccato feel to them. While it could be argued that the bands overall sound is a little too consistent throughout this album, there is no doubt that this is indeed a modern day epic.

Albums of this sheer complexity only come about after prolonged and intense song- writing. Practicing alot, as the band themselves so much as admitted in the Stars & Garden video, could lead to marriage break-ups and even splits in the band.

In an era when many groups sound the same it's hard for any band, using nothing more than normal instruments, to have there own immediately recognisable sound. Echolyn achieved this feat easily and would have, I'm sure, gained some kind of fan base had any radio station been brave enough to play their material. Perhaps the fact that like most prog, this kind of album needs to be listened to repeatedly before it's magic is unlocked, is the reason it doesn't get the air time it should.

I bought the later edition of this CD, which came with the DVD. This is an altogether more basic, but none the less, entertaining film of the band in their early years. All in all a great package delivered in double quick time from Prog Greg Walker in the US. Echolyn should feature in your CD collection if you don't already own a disc of theirs. This is as good a place as any to start..

Report this review (#121340)
Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars While I can't really deny the Gentle Giant influence here, I think many reviewers are overstating this. I think it is just the most recognizable influence to the average prog fan, but I think it does the band a severe injustice to imply that that is their only, or even main, influence.

For one thing, they have way more drive and energy than GG ever had in their entire career. The rock much harder, have a better and more dynamic drummer, and have almost none of the baroque, medieval atmosphere that GG had (and I'm a huge GG fan). But I suppose my even dwelling on this is going to give the wrong idea, so enough about that.

Echolyn had/has a unique sound. They are American, but seem to have more depth than most American prog bands of the 90's and 00's, and avoid just about all the cliches and traps most of those bands fall into (like Spock's Beards "prog by numbers" approach with Morse..........and far more blatant GG rip off songs). It took a few listens, and the enthusiasm of a friend, to really get a grip on what is going on here. I had Suffocating before this, and it was a much more immediate album that appealed to the prog head in me more readily. This album has more complexity than nearly anything else in my collection (which is really saying something), yet it is not readily apparent on the first few listens. The band has an unusual melodic sensibility which gives them their unique sound, yet they ARE nothing if not melodic. It's interesting that this, their first and only major label album, would be so complex and challenging. And yet, at first listen I was disappointed because it didn't seem all that challenging to me. Not to the extent that they had sold out, but just somehow less adventurous than the previous album. The fact that this is not really the case points to some pure genius on the part of the band. This is the charm and delight of this album, that only after repeated listens can you start to realize just how complex and involved the compositions, playing, and arrangements are. Fantastic stuff.

I have the original Sony release, bought used through Amazon several years ago, so my biggest complaint is the production. It seems to lack dynamic range, which may have something to do with why it took some time to realize how intricate all the compositions really are. But it is not bad production, just not as crystal clear and dynamic as more recent Echolyn albums. Hopefully, the remaster by the band themselves addressed this. I was also surprised when I pulled this out for this review, to see that it was 70 minutes long. I didn't recall from my previous listening sessions that it was this long and it seems to go by much quicker than that. Perhaps it is the short song lengths that account for this, I don't know. Their is a suite of sorts, The Letters, divided over 4 tracks, but to my ears it doesn't really come across as a single composition. More like 4 tracks with similar lyrical themes but nothing else. Maybe that was the intention, I don't know.

So overall, I have to give this high marks. The energy, complexity, melodicism, and tightness of this band has never been more apparent for me. This was an impressive statement for a band to make, and on a major label no less. Echolyn still strikes me as one of, if not THE, most original American prog bands around, even not (though I still have not heard their most recent album). I can't quite call this essential, but I'll give it a 4.5 and round down to 4. Definitely an excellent addition to any prog music collection, just be sure to give it time to reveal itself to you. Once it does, you will continue to notice new things every time you listen to it.

Report this review (#121625)
Posted Friday, May 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although not as overtly progressive as "Suffocating The Bloom", "As The World" nevertheless is a classic through and through. I challenge anyone to find a tighter unit vocally and musically from the US around the time this album came out, especially in the symphonic side of prog, (although I would deem Echolyn more Art Rock then Symphonic, but I digress). There has to be more melodic ideas on this album then you'll find on 20 others. Given the fact that they had a larger budget to work with being on a major label, it shows throughout the album; flutes, violins, cellos, recorders and even piccolos, it's all there and they use them very well. I'm not going to go over every one of the 16 tracks on this album because honestly, they are all superb to the max. If you haven't tried a little Echolyn and you're intrigued, give this album a shot. It can be wordy, but if you pay attention you'll hear some incredible musicianship ala Gentle Giant but wholly original, never pandering to any one group. A classic from the 90's and should be in the top ten from that decade easily. 5 stars without a doubt.
Report this review (#124160)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Echolyn are such a fresh and highly accomplished prog band - I can't believe I'd never heard of them until I discovered Prog Archives in the spring of 2006. Why haven't they stormed the charts? I suppose their group arrangements (weird, sudden tempo changes; elaborate pseudo-fugues etc.) are a little too heavy for most people. Possibly, their music is also too upbeat for most of today's rock listeners, who seem to prefer moody navel- gazing. But I guess true prog lovers won't be put off by a little musical complexity. In fact, you only need to play AS THE WORLD once or twice, to discover that there are a lot of catchy melodies hidden in there. Virtually all earlier reviews compare this band to Gentle Giant, but Echolyn's instrumentation is less extravagant (no sudden sax, vibraphone or recorder outbursts!) and, more importantly, the band can be just as 'pop' as Todd Rundgren's Utopia or Paul McCartney's Wings. One of the main reasons for Echolyn's poppiness is that they have a smooth-voiced, highly expressive lead vocalist, who sounds a lot like, well... whoever it was that took the lead vocal on 10CC's 'I'm not in love'! Come to think of it, why has no-one ever compared Echolyn to 10CC? Is that British act from the 1970s so hopelessly unfashionable, or is it totally unknown in the United States? Well, honestly, because of its theatricality, its melodramatic moments, its unabashed melodiousness and its operatic choruses (the most gorgeous harmony singing you could imagine!) AS THE WORLD strongly reminds me of such 10CC classics as THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK and HOW DARE YOU? (Make no mistake, this is meant to be a compliment. HOW DARE YOU, in particular, has long been a favourite of mine.) On top of all this, anyone who's ever played in a band will enjoy Echolyn's virtuosity. The guitar and piano arrangements, in particular, are outstanding. Production is crystal clear, and the drums sound glorious! At last, here's a new(ish) prog band which builds upon past styles but fashions something new and refreshing. I can't wait to check out some of the other Echolyn albums.

Rating: Very good; nearly excellent. Let's say three and a half stars.

Report this review (#124470)
Posted Sunday, June 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars More complex synchopation, rhythmic gymnastics and infectious energy abound in "As the World", in fact, "As the World" is so similar to its excellent predecessor that it is sometimes hard to distinguish the two.

The title tracks fantastic fretwork starts things off with a bang, and the energy doesn't let up. However, I maintain that Echolyn's music starts to collapse under its own dexterity and inspiring lyrics before this album's 70 minute (!) length concludes. A great listen in small doses, but it would have been nice to hear a little more experimentation from a band that clearly has the chops to wow us. Still, a worthy purchase for fans and newcomers.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#126269)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very solid interesting symphonic prog album.

ECHOLYN are one of those bands that had all the potential to go big but unfortunately due to the grand scheme of things and the way the industry works they never quite got off the ground and it's a shame because they have put out some seriously good music including this underrated gem.

Probably the first thing that you will notice when you pop this vocal harmonies. ECHOLYN have some of the best and some of the tightest vocal harmonies ever - that is not hyperbole, the vocal harmonies really are that good even during syncopated and melodically complex passages the harmonies never falter and they always add so so much to the music. As for the rest of the instrumentation the guitar is competent but fairly down in the mix, the drums and bass are great - excellent rhythm section, the keys however are a bit odd. Many of the keyboard sounds are very cheesy and silly at times verging on 50 dollar Casio keyboard territory and for some I can see that might detract from the music but for me I love it, it contributes well to the high energy and upbeat nature of the music. Overall though even though individually they may not shine together as a time they are superb the music is very complex and syncopated but always quite upbeat, at times verging on poppy but not in a commercial kind of way.

As far as track highlights go there are many great moments in most of the songs (and there are 16, the album is a massive 70 minutes long) but the title track stands out for me it perfectly encapsulates the album and what the band are about as well as the impossibly cheery 'my dear wormwood'.

Overall this is a superb undervalued gem that more people need to check out, fans of GENTLE GIANT would definitely appreciate.

Report this review (#141665)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars If you ever wondered what Gentle Giant would sound like if they stayed together is the 90´s, then it might be something close to Echolyn´s As The World. The interesting thing about this american group is that they don´t sound like GG in the 70´s. Their music is modern and benefits a lot from the technological point of view. Still GG is the main influence here, so much you sometimes wonder if you´re not hearing Gentle Giant themselves (well, maybe with a new guitarrist and slightly different lead singer). Even some song titles are similar (All Ways The Same). Only the guitar parts are really not Giant at all, it has a more `Yes` feel to it.

Well, that said, I must admit this is not a copycat case. They simply seem to pick up the music GG left when they broke up and made their own. As a result, the CD is as intricated and demanding to the listener as any of the classic Giant´s stuff, especially by the time of Aquiring The Taste, or even more so. But if you listen carefully you´ll be quite rewarded. The music is complex, dense, but has good parts. You´ll have to listen to it several times to get used to. but once you get it, chances are you'll like it. They are very fine musicians, of course, but special attention must be given to their fantastic vocal harmonies. Production is also of high standard.

Recommended to anyone who likes good elaborated music.

Report this review (#142677)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars really This is a good album. Echolyn continues on in the same vein as the preceding and excllent 'Suffocating the Bloom'. Lots of mood changes, and tempo changes. But it doesn't quite grab me like the predecessor. Still very enjoyable to listen to.
Report this review (#171475)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This has to be one of the most beautiful albums made in the 1990s and is quite possibly my favorite album by these American modern prog rockers. Often unfairly lumped in with a retro tag, Echolyn manage to create some of the most refreshing progressive rock music of the 1990s and 2000s. If you like Yes, Gentle Giant, or if you're looking for something new with a symphonic edge of excitement, some accessibility, yet some of the most tight and crazy time signatures and changes, then look no further!

Because this album has 16 tracks, I'm not going to a song-by-song review. I'll just go over some of my personal highlights.

Things get started quickly and very nicely with All Ways the Same/As the World, which is quite a good opening track and may be their most Gentle Giant-influenced track. Best Regards very well may be my favorite track (if I was forced to choose at gunpoint), simply because it manages to squeeze all of what Echolyn is about into one song. I could easily hit the repeat button on this one over and over, and the instrumental interplay is absolutely genius. Never the Same is possibly one of the most simple tracks on the album, being only in 3/4, but it is nonetheless an amazingly beautiful closer clocking in at the longest track on the album. It starts with a glorious flute opening, accompanied soon by strings, building into an amazing opening segment and opening like a flower before your eyes when it breaks into an acoustic guitar part and Weston's vocals come in. The rest of the song does not disappoint. You have to hear it to believe it.

All of these songs are so good, I can't find a flaw in any of them, and it's really hard to even pick those highlights. Buy this album immediately if you call yourself a fan of prog. 10/10.

An absolute modern masterpiece of prog that I recommend infinitely to anyone, unless you only like extremely inaccessible RIO and/or are very closed-minded. Even still, you should get it, since this is THAT good.

Report this review (#188572)
Posted Sunday, November 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion, a classic album displaying chops galore! I would describe their sound as a mixture of the off-kilter rhythms and vocal harmonies of Gentle Giant and the American Rock aesthetic of Kansas...and maybe some Yes thrown in for good measure? One thing for sure, Echolyn have their own sound. The rhythm section is absolutely ridiculous and the vocal harmonies are awe-inspiring. Yeah, they may get a little self indulgent at times, but I'm not one to complain about that....this is "Prog Rock" after all!!! It's a shame that Sony didn't give them a decent chance. Great instrumentation, great production, catchy yet complex, string arrangement interludes...this album has got a little bit of everything! Favorite tracks would include: How Long Have I Waited, Best Regards, The Cheese Stands Alone, Entry 11/19/93, Never The Same...but really, the entire album.
Report this review (#205049)
Posted Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Echolyn is a band I'd looked forward to diving into for quite some time and my first experience (As the World) was a major disappointment, so I will try to be as brief as possible. I have been repeatedly spinning this album over time to give it time to grab me-and there was one aspect where it did. The chops these guys possess are just unreal, both vocally and instrumentally, and I can't deny them that. While I don't care for the updated semi-Gentle Giant style of harmonies they are well done. Much more impressive are the instrumental chops these guys have. Every one of them are tight and play with some real muscle which I came to appreciate. I frankly just love the PUNCH the bass and drums throw at you though the manic style of composition wore thin after a while. I found the frenzied style of many tracks to be more exhausting than truly interesting, especially combined with that vocal style. I really would like to hear Echolyn again as an instrumental project if such an animal exists. I commend their playing skills and would be comfortable settling in at 3 stars (pretty good music) until we get to the next piece of the puzzle.

Oddly, the problem for me on "As the World" are the lyrics. I say oddly because generally I don't pay much attention to lyrics unless I really love them, or as in this case, unless they completely annoy me. I can accept the occasional poetic references to spirituality and matters of faith/character. Such benign sentiments are scattered throughout rock and roll and when handled with graceful subtlety can be quite effective. Here the lyrics can run just too precious, obvious, and self-righteous, sometimes sounding like a cross between an Evangelical youth minister and a self-improvement coach. There is also a smug and proselytizing feel that sometimes creeps in to the vocalist's tone making me feel like I'm being lectured. While I defend their right to say anything they wish to say, I also have to right to say I find their lyrics poor and absolutely uninspiring. There is an early poke at logic and reason that made me groan and from there I knew this might not be my cup o' java-I happen to be a fan of logic and reason personally. Pass the Spock, thanks. I realize my opinion of this popular band is a minority one, but I did find Bob Eichler over at our friends Ground and Skywho felt something similar: "the lyrics try so hard to be deep and worldly, but come off sounding like a whiney teenager who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. The Christian-rock influences (something I rarely see mentioned about Echolyn) don't help to endear them to me...if Spock's Beard could double their chops, they'd sound just like Echolyn. If you think that sounds like a compliment, then Echolyn might be just the band for you." For me, were Echolyn an instrumental act I may very well enjoy this more than my rating reflects, but for now I'm not able to get past the vocalist and certain parts of the message. To each his own.

Moving on to the release notes, the tri-fold digipak reissue will certainly please fans of Echolyn. They throw in a bonus live DVD recorded two days before the original release in 1995. While the audio/video quality is a bit shaky on this, it will no doubt be a huge treat for fans to watch. My rating is a personal one, if you know you like Echolyn's other work then I'd suggest you try this one too, and get the nice bonus DVD for some rare home viewing.

Report this review (#212157)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Like Finnforest this was my first taste of ECHOLYN and I also felt a little underwelmed. Perhaps this isn't the best place to start as i've since enjoyed their album "The End Is Beautiful" quite a lot. At almost 70 minutes this one's a little long for my tastes as well.

"Always The Same" opens with a short orchestral piece. Anyone who knows me knows this is starting off on the wrong foot with me. "As The World" is pretty good with the focus on the vocals and the vocal harmonies. Nice guitar 3 minutes in. "Uncle" opens with drums. I do like vocals and harmonies here quite a lot. Piano becomes prominant later. Excellent track ! "How Long I Have Waited" sounds so cool the way it sounds and builds. Nice bass in this one too. This is lighter but it works. "Best Regards" opens with strummed guitar and vocals. It kicks in quickly. Check out the vocal harmonies after 2 1/2 minutes. Excellent guitar and drum work late. Another good one. "The Cheese Stands Alone" is for me a turn off. The vocals are too rough which is what i've noticed in some of their live songs i've heard. "Letters Prose" is mellow with lots of piano.

"A Short Essay" sounds better when it kicks in around a minute. Not a fan of the intro. Not bad. "My Dear Wormwood" is definitely GENTLE GIANT influenced both instrumentally and vocally. I like the mellower sections. "Entry 11/19/93" opens with orchestral sounds before mellow vocals come in. Too soft especially with the strings and such. "One For the Show" opens with reserved vocals and acoustic guitar. Drums and a full sound come in. Drums and piano shine midway through, guitar follows. "The Wiblet" is a short piano / drum / bass / guitar piece. It blends into "Audio Verite". "Settled Land" is almost dreamy with harmonies. I like it ! It does kick in unfortunatley. "A Habit Worth Forming" features lots of piano and vocals early. It gets fuller with drums and guitar later. Almost Howe-like guitar late. "And...Never the Same" opens with flute and orchestral sounds. Acoustic guitar and vocals follow. This sounds really good.

Hit and miss, but with more hits. 3 stars.

Report this review (#216668)
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, highly underrated here. This is one of my favorite modern prog albums. These guys always focus on the song first, and are great at writing dynamic tunes. Their choice of chords is interesting too, often alternating between jazzy off-kilter chords and pretty melodic ones. They're also very heavy on the syncopation and weird time signatures but they still manage to make it extremely catchy. Some of the highlights are As the World, Uncle, How Long I Have Waited, The Cheese Stands Alone, and One for the Show. This is a great unknown modern band and if you like melodic, catchy, complex, eclectic rock music then you should give these guys a try.
Report this review (#216669)
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars True Art/Progressive Rock

I picked this album up many years back and it still gets rotation in my CD player. I didn't know what to expect from these guys but had heard about them on the old Progressive Rock newgroups. Everyone would comment on how this album was a must have. It didn't take two listens to see why either. At the time, it made me hope for a revival of the Prog I had loved from the 70s. Oddly this is from Americans!

From song structure, to time signatures, to harmonies, to songs blending into one another, to outstanding musicianship, As The World is a treat for any Prog fan, especially those who like a good song and not general Prog weirdness and noise.

Although it's hard to place my favorite section of the release, it will say that a standout portion is the Prose/A Short Essay/My Dear Wormwood for me.

An overall highlight of the album is the whirlwind keyboard technique of Chris Buzby. He definitely keeps things interesting.

Yes, this album of any Echolyn is the one to get. 5/5

Report this review (#216685)
Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars ...well, 3.5 stars.

Actually, I expected to enjoy this album more than I truly did. Not that there is nothing to enjoy here, far from that: excellent performance, tight playing, great vocal harmonies and lines, and very good sound and production, are all here in this record, divided into 16 elaborate songs. But what annoys me here is a tendency to messy developments, which does not fit my taste. It's evident that these guys prefer to throw in as many ideas per minutes as they could, rather than putting more attention at the development level.

What add to the impreciseness are some vague finales that bland into the following track, which in my opinion does not suit to the kind of materials and style, which are symphonic or art by nature, In which better separation between the tracks is required.

The first two tracks are good example for my mixed feelings about this album. Track one, 'Always the same' is a mellow short opener played by strings and sung beautifully by the band in some 'ba da da' vocals.

Right after that come a guitar in a 'wild west' mood, and the vocalist announced 'I'm stretching my ears they're open and not withstanding, To rhythmic syncopation, harmonic dissonance'...They stand on this obligation, for sure. This part of the 'As the world' song is very amusing and energetic. The development also start very nice with some baroque lines (indeed with reminiscent to Gentle Giant), but soon it becomes to some fast, messy and cacophony parts. And than comes back the chorus, in a way that reminds me a racing car that runs in screech and rolling into the last straight.

However, the description above does not fit many of the album songs. 'A short essay' is a beautiful song with great vocal harmonies and a wonderful, heavy guitar solo in the middle. 'How long I have waited' features nice interplay between keyboards and guitar that panning nicely between the right and left stereo sides. 'One for the show' is a nice, quite sentimental song.

The closing section songs (from 14th to 16th) are in a total different mood, much more calm and organized. The last song, 'Never the same', is a little bit longer track, with all the time that needed to express the ideas of a peaceful death and remaining of the soul. This song is accompanied also by acoustic section of flute, strings and classical guitar, in opposite to most of the songs that features synthesizers in the melodic roles.

Another favorite of mine I would like to mention is 'Best regards'. It opens as a catchy song accompanied at first just by acoustic guitar in nice rhythm and strumming, before the rest of the band join in, and features a real piano this time, and less synthesized sound. A great development in the middle, based on baroque passages on the Piano, and vocal harmonies, in a way that indeed brings GG to mind. For me to announce the giants source of influence is always a complement. Anyway, this album is far from being a GG derivative.

At the bottom line, despite of the development lacks, this one is an excellent album, with sufficient amount of real good songs. 'As the world' is an intelligent, elaborate while being refreshing creation, which gets my final round up 4 stars rating.

Report this review (#227505)
Posted Sunday, July 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Back in 1995, I was still managing a record store in Cambridge Massachusetts. At that time, there was still almost nothing progressive coming out on any of the major labels, save for a few Dream Theater releases, and Altered State, both on WEA labels. Most labels at the time mailed out tapes with samples up many upcoming releases by different bands. Imagine my surprise when I received a tape from Sony that started with As The World by Echolyn. Sony. Probably the least musically daring of any of the labels. Wow.

Here was a band that had comlex, difficult to play arrangements, with beautiful multipart harmonies. And sure, there is a Gentle Giant quality to the music, with interlaced rhythms and harmonies, but this music is much more than that. Echolyn has created a sound that is really all their own, hard really to compare with any other band out there. It is, all at the same time, powerful and introspective, and deceptively deep, both musically and lyrically.

My favorite songs here are the title track, As The World and The Cheese Stands Alone. But not by much. I love this whole album.

Report this review (#234435)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I've been drawn to this album by its excellent reviews and the description of the band as the new Gentle Giant. After listening to As The World for about a week I shelved it without ever coming back to neither the band nor the record until now. This was of course unfair and listening to this album today brings quite a few good memories of the fun I had while listening to it the first couple of times.

The reason for my negligence has to do with the cheap thrills that Echolyn offers the listener. Being a U.S. band they tend to come off a bit like a mix between Kansas and Spock's Beard. That is not to say that there is enough originality offered here but the in your face type of attitude really puts me off at times. The album's title track is a good example of just that. It all starts like great with the intro-verse-chorus section followed by a strongly Gentle Giant inspired part followed by section after section where the band just show off their skill while loosing connection to the original song structure. Of course it's all great once the song comes back to its core towards the end.

Ultimately I've never been a fan of Echolyn but this album works if I'm in the right mood. Therefore this is definitely not one of those albums that I listen to often and probably never will.

***** star songs: As The World (4:50)

**** star songs: All Ways The Same (0:36) Uncle (6:54) Best Regards (4:11) The Cheese Stands Alone (4:48) Prose (1:45) My Dear Wormwood (3:34) The Wiblet (0:47) Settled Land (5:41) Never The Same (7:54)

*** star songs: How Long Have I Waited (4:43) A Short Essay (4:34) Entry 11.19.93 (6:33) One For The Show (4:31) Audio Verite (4:19) A Habit Worth Forming (4:24)

Report this review (#259067)
Posted Sunday, January 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This third album (as the previous two IMHHO) does share more with the eclectic genre than the symphonic one.

Complex beat, ŕ la GG vocals, and excellent instrumental combination are the strong lines of this material. But the whole is hard to digest: little great instrumental passages, few (to none) vocal extravaganza, close to none gorgeous tracks.

So, what's left?

Well, a bunch of good songs indeed. Fine musicianship (that' the least you can expect from such a band), but average vocals. A mixed kind of a feeling. And the madrigal "Prose" is nothing from the other world.

I am not as enthusiastic as most of my fellow reviewers about this album. Not enough melodies to my taste. Not enough musical delirium. A good album of complex music. Eclectic is the word as many colleagues have referred to. So: wrong category here for sure.

Anyway: the music displayed here deserves a listen; but don't expect a masterpiece. Well. That's what I think! The dreadful "My Dear Wormwood" should convince you that both of the worlds are sitting here. The good. But the weak as well?Little compelling to tell the truth.

Mine is that I very much prefer "Suffocating the Bloom" than this one. Three stars is my maximum rate. A good album (at times) but too longish and with little feel. The whole of this album sounds too average really. Such a song as "Audio Vérité" is really not a ?cent worth. Press next. For sure.

If you're heading for syrupy stuff, welcome to "Settled Land". A poor complaint. An average musical interpretation. In all: a weak moment which should have been closed down.

This band is hard to categorized (which is a good thing IMHHO). Some eclectic lovers will praise them. Some symphonic ones would just have a discreet listen to this record. Both will end up on a totally different view?Even if intricate parts aren't too many out here.

Three stars.

Report this review (#280885)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'As the World' presents you with a healthy dose of memorable vocal lines and harmonies that will probably have you singing on the bus (e.g. Uncle) exquisite chord sequences (e.g. Uncle) and wonderful arrangements (e.g. Uncle!) As you can tell my favourite song of the record is Uncle!

Relatives aside... 'As the World' is a hidden jem in my eyes. I really get the sense that echolyn (sic) have delivered a showcase of musical relevance and validity, not just self indulgent playing, the main emphasis being songwriting at which they do very well.

The similarities to Gentle Giant are justified, although i would prefer to see them as a modern version of the prog greats, equivalent to Spock's Beard, whilst maintaining a raw and original sound. I dont think they are trying too hard to sound like GG and lets face it, GG were not the first musicians to experiment in vocal harmonies. There are definitely some homages to the quirkier side of GG though, for example, 'The Wiblet' is a brief complex arrangement of quirky piano and guitar parts including bells, and whistles - very GG!

There is a nice range of dynamics, moods and emotions shown by both the music, singing and lyrics which provide a very interesting listen. This wide variety of balladry, metal and epic prog rock is what i love about this ablum in particular.

Pros: Memorable song writing chords and chord patterns vocal line and harmonies Instrumentation and arrangement keyboard playing is wonderful The song 'Uncle'...! :)

Cons: Some of the lyrics are a bit cheesy and non sensical Quite lengthy, however the songs are not all that long so can be enjoyed in parts

Neutral: At 70 mins, it does take a few listens to take it all in but if you put the work in then it will certainly pay off.

Standout tracks: UNCLE, My Dear Wormwood, The Cheese Stands Alone, Audio Verité, A Short Essay, As the World.

In conclusion, 'As the World' by echolyn is a very energetic, endearing and enjoyable listen. With new sounds to be found with each visit, it should keep you entertained for more than a long while. :D


Report this review (#297830)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a wonderful album!! If you have never checked this out, do it soon. But be prepared to put in a lot of effort to gain a complete understanding of what is here. This is a long album and has a lot to offer. But once you appreciate it, you will return to it again and again. Highlights: Many! "As the World", "The Cheese Stands Alone", "One For the Show" among others. And do not let me forget- "Never the Same" which I may have played at my funeral. Lowlights? None. Now, I am not a realy fan of Gentle Giant, which this is often compared to, but the textures, the moods, the time changes, the lyrics, the music.... just great. A complex and wonderful album that deserves a higher rating than many give it. I have no misgivings with presenting this with one of my rare 5-stars (#20 out of 143 reviews).
Report this review (#297852)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "And they got again!!! " .Is the best form of defining my thought about ECHOLYN "As the World" to which I give 5 stars with praise (I say, again... because I gave 5 stars also to the first 2 albuns), and if you liked two previous albums certainly will appreciate a lot this album. Inside of this disk are present the same "ingredients" that do ECHOLYN an exceptional band ,or in other words heavy-prog, symphonic prog, ecletic-prog, bringing to us the most varied emotions as a certain present melancholy in the track 8. " To Short Essay" or a force and fantastic weight as in the track 2 " As The World", in a mixture of the highest quality, where you can feel the presence of the influences of bands with sonorities as several as LED ZEPPELIN, YES & GENTLE GIANT, through complex vocal arrangements (GG) with wah-wah soils in MICK BOX's (URIAH HEEP) or Jimmy Page and keyboards in Rick Wakeman's fashion." My highlights are the tracks 2 " As The World", 3 "Uncle", 5 "Best Regards", 6 "The Cheese Stands Alone", 8 "To Short Essay", 9 "My Dear Wormwood" and 13 "Áudio VertÊ." However I want to emphasize that all the disk is very good, without weak moments. As already said before, my rate is 5 Stars!!!
Report this review (#326831)
Posted Saturday, November 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars This is not Echolyn's best album; it has many songs, but some of them aren't as remarkable as the others. However, it is a treasure chest, and the pearls therein are among the brightest. This too must be said: Thomas Hyatt is one of greatest bassists ever. The evidence is here, and Paul Ramsey alongside him makes for an even more delicious rhythm section. And if you make it to the end (literally, ha), "Never the Same" is amazing.

"All Ways the Same" This is a string and vocal introduction- lovely.

"As the World" The title track has a rapid acoustic guitar and Brett Kull and Ray Weston on vocals. The middle section is one of the most Gentle Giant like passages the band ever had, and yet it is distinctively theirs. Even the guitar solo enters in randomly, a la "Peel the Paint." Still, it has a great, upbeat, and memorable chorus.

"Uncle" After a funky bass and drum groove, the punchy and somewhat disturbing verses comes in, which are about bullying. The piano and guitar are especially cooperative. It is a dynamic song that may not appeal to everyone. It isn't their best, but is a tad reminiscent of Suffocating the Bloom.

"How Long Have I Waited" One of the best songs on the album, this has a guitar rhythm lead into a great Weston vocal. This is has one of the greatest, popping bass performances Echolyn would ever know. The drums are perfect too. The chorus is smooth and wonderful- a masterpiece.

"Best Regards" A short acoustic piece with a quavering vocal opens a heavier, more straightforward song. It has heavy but disjointed moments.

"The Cheese Stands Alone" This song has a jaunty verse and smoother chorus, with a raucous instrumental section. Yet it is quite memorable and very entertaining, ranging as it does from eccentric rock to nursery rhyme allusions.

"Prose" Chris Buzby offers a lovely piano piece that includes acoustic guitar and upright bass, eventually joined by drums.

"A Short Essay" Weston croons in his own way over strings, piano, and guitar. It has quick chorus and a sizzling electric guitar solo over vocalizations.

"My Dear Wormwood" Evidently inspired by C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, this has some lyrics from one experienced demon to another, but has music so jazzy and upbeat, the listener may sin himself.

"Entry 11.19.93" This has a very symphonic, sweet introduction that leads into the 50s; if 1950s Doo Wop groups are desired, this is desirable- beautiful. Weston does not disappoint as a vocalist on this lighter piece, and the synthesizer lead comes out to add another dimension to the album.

"One for the Show" Kull sings over a lovely acoustic guitar before the whole band enters, filling out the sound. It has a nice build.

"The Wiblet" Wild and unrestrained, this piece goes in every direction and nowhere at once.

"Audio Verite" Distorted guitar leads into circus-like keyboards. While not bad, I think of this as a piece where Echolyn just didn't have a vision; they are all over the place. It's pleasant pop here, then circus music there.

"Settled Land" This moderate, light rocker has excellent vocal harmonies and piano augmenting the quieter parts. There are some references in the music, including one from Stephen King's It: "We all float down here."

"A Habit Worth Forming" This piece begins like a Weston-led song from And Every Blossom, with him in the lower register and acoustic music behind him. The drums, bass, and organ have something other to say, however, filling out the piece. The piano is beautiful.

"Never the Same" Play this at my funeral. For a month I listened to this song nightly after my cousin, a mother of three children who had just two weeks prior gave up drugs and became a Christian, perished in a car crash. During this time or mourning, I contacted Brett Kull and asked if I could interview him. He got back to me in twelve hours and agreed. The interview is here: The lyrics are perfect, the music is perfect, and only the acoustic version captures the mood better. I know few ways to end an album better than this- amazing.

"After the song is over, the dance goes on, so dance away."

Thanks. I will.

Report this review (#710207)
Posted Thursday, April 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Echoly is one of the most intresting and original progressive rock bands ever in last 20 years not only from american land but in general aswell. Delivering the kind of prog that almost every fan of the genre can appreciate and love, Echolyn manage to release some respectable albums full of potential right from the start. The band seams to be influenced by legends such as Gentle Giant, but for sore they have their own twists. The musicianship of this third album from 1995 named As the world is outstanding, memorable passages, inventive duels between musicians, intricate and complex prog. This is the first Echolyn album I was aware of in 1998, since then I begun to love them more and more. I can trace a piece to be the best from here, all are very strong powerfull arrangements, complex and complicated prog is all about here. Each instrument shines here, delivering top notch performance. I like it a lot, maybe among their best as far as I'm concerned. 4 stars easy.

Report this review (#768747)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The modern version of Gentle Giant is known as ECHOLYN and As the World is a real proof of that major influence, with the use in the vocal syncopated harmonies of the singers. All the musicians in the band play with delicacy so their sound can be heard neat and "sound". The extra musicians fit perfect for the songs. Now, this is not the best ECHOLYN album and it has a high standard. There are some songs that have a lot of progressions, and together with the voices, create an avant-garde atmosphere. Once again, an album which is not that easy immediately but which grows with time!
Report this review (#1017273)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars After their excellent sophomoric effort in Suffocating the Bloom, echolyn returns with another batch of inspired songs. On this album, the band took the Gentle Giant influence rampant on Suffocating the Bloom and took it a step further, making this perhaps their most Gentle Giant- like, and possibly most complex album.

Also like the previous album, As the World turns features a plethora of shorter songs, an atypical choice for prog. But make no mistake, each track is as progressive and varied as any epic could be. There is a lot going on in each song, thanks in part in the band's ability to load every song with great moments while retaining cohesiveness.

On a song-wise basis, the first half of the album is a bit stronger than the latter half, leaving a slight consistency issue. The grooving riff-based 'Uncle,' contrapuntal vocal-lead 'Best Regards' and the blazingly fast and chaotic title track are some of echolyn's best. The latter half is a bit weaker, as their sound begins to wear thin. The other problem is the individual songs don't carry as much identity or personality as Suffocating the Bloom, which is more varied on a song by song basis.

Overall, I would say this is a solid follow up to Suffocating the Bloom. This is definitely a must have for Gentle Giant fans wanting to explore the creative ways modern bands are channeling their influences, but is respectable in its own right, and certainty one of echolyn's best.


Report this review (#1124529)
Posted Thursday, January 30, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Moon Safari's "Himlabacken I", Ozric Tentacles' "Strangitude", Spock's Beard's "V", Just about anything I know by Gentle Giant, It Bites' "Once Around the World", some Peter Gabriel Genesis, a bit of Dixie Dregs, and some early Barenaked Ladies. If you could pick and choose some of this, a heap of that, a dash of this, a spoonful of that from the list above you might well come up with this album by Echolyn. The music moves and rolls and the vocals and harmonies dart in and out, soar over top, and bounce along the surface in a way that makes this feel a bit like a work of progressive show tunes music. The lyrics can be straightforward or quirky, the singing aggressive like an angry folk artist or smoothly harmonized like a capella but backed by a music band. There's a distinctive mood and flavour to the album so that in a way you may feel like you've gone to see a musical for the visually impaired.

I had listened to samples of Echolyn before and had been considering on and off to buy one of their albums. But after I read about this album in Stephen Lambe's book about progressive rock, I decided to just go ahead and order it. The new release I have doesn't come with the original cover pictured above but there's a second disc that's a DVD from some concert they performed (which I haven't had a chance to watch yet).

This may not be everyone's cup of prog but it is a well-crafted album. Certainly when one is in the mood, this can be an enjoyable and entertaining serving of music in which to indulge oneself. A sign that prog was on the way up once again in the 90's.

Report this review (#1197724)
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Finally Echolyn's music was awarded, after reaching the ears of one of the biggest record companies worldwide, Sony Music/Epic Records.They were offered a multi-album contract, which they signed of course, and most of the year 1994 was spent in significant live performances, inluding their visit at Progfest 94' as well as opening for Dream Theater for three shows on the East Coast.Inbetween they found time to travel to Nashville, Tennessee and record what was going to become the first work for Sony.The album was titled ''As the world'' and was released in March 1995.

Changing label and entering one of the largest music industries wouldn't affect Echolyn's progressive attitude, I would dare to say that the impact was on the other side, the music remained fairly complex and intricate, if not even more challenging compared to the previous studio albums, with the band showing a tendency to add a tad more Fusion vibes in the menu and work less on their symphonic arrangements.Moreover there is even a more rockin' and aggressive approach on vocals and rhythms, following the fashion of the period, which wanted your rock music to contain anger and energy.Of course ''As the world'' has nothing to do with Heavy/Alternative Rock or Grunge, the vocal harmonies are still grounded in a GENTLE GIANT vein and the arrangements rely between complicated instrumental moves and quasi-symphonic lines, but the band had added some power inches in the process.The material is filled with unexpected breaks and odd time signatures with Brett Kull's guitar sounding a bit more jazzy and rockin' and apparently the whole team following his steps and offering quirky piano themes, energetic tempos and explosive synth moves.What strikes the most though is that big part of the music is not very memorable with the band getting a bit lost in their own talents and chaotic instrumental parts.On the other hand an Echolyn release is never a waste of time, the multi-parted ''Letters'' is the track, which shows the true ability of the Americans with the strong KANSAS, YES and GENTLE GIANT vibrations.

Not the most preferable album of the Echolyn catalogue in my opinion, still a nice treasure of challenging and dense Prog Rock with evident 70's flavors.Recommended.

Report this review (#1302346)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars As the World is the best prog album of the 90s.

The first Anglagard album was great. Spock's Beard had a couple quality albums back then. Porcupine Tree was starting to tap the zeitgeist. After a run of awful singers Genesis discovers Ray Wilson (the best singer in prog since Boz Burrell) and releases "Calling All Stations", their best album since their landmark debut.

In retrospect, there was a lot of good stuff around in the 90s.

But this album beats them all.

Here's the boilerplate stuff: -this is Echolyn's 3rd album. It is possibly their best, although their lyrics and sound would improve after their reformation in 2000, if you like their more jumpy, contrapuntal 90s stuff, this is the zenith of that sound. -This was their major label album. It sounds lush as all get-out. There are three songs with strings, if memory serves. It sounds great. Unfortunately the major label would screw the band over and lead to them going on a 5 year hiatus after the release of the record. -As complex as the record is, it is quite catchy. You can see the seeds of the band's future in songs like "One for the Show", "Never the Same", etc.

Never heard Echolyn before? They are an American band (much like Grand Funk Railroad, in that respect). They have two lead singers, both of whom are unique and great. They have a lot of 3 part harmonies. Their music is a tight amalgamation of influences. Due to their complexity and the fact that most of their songs are short people compare them to Gentle Giant, which is fine, I guess.

The album seems to have a couple overarching themes (which it shares with all their 90s work): individuality, personal responsibility, how awesome the band is, etc. (As a sidenote, they are kind of like a rap crew in that they thought they were awesome and wanted to set it to music. If they were the Wu Tang Clan, "The Cheese Stands Alone" would be their "Da Mystery of Chessboxin", "A Little Nonsense" would be their "C.R.E.A.M.", "Here I Am" would be their "METHOD Man", "How Long I Have Waited" is their "Bring Da Ruckus" and "As the World" would be their "Daytona 500", even down to the a capella introduction.)

"All Ways the Same" is a gorgeous strings and vocals introduction which leads into the title track, which rocks hard and has some fiendishly complex harmonies. I can't believe this song was financed by a major label. This song is killer live.

"Uncle" is a weird little song. It's long for Echolyn--about 7 minutes if memory serves. It's a narrative about a bullied child and his mother extracting revenge for him. The opening bassline has a great sound. Major label dollars at work again.

"How Long I Have Waited" is jazzy and breezy. In a strange parallel universe in which Steely Dan are as revered as the Beatles, this song moved major units.

"Best Regards" is a warped little pop song with great piano. It's about writing a letter to your future self. The harmonies in the chorus are great. Very, very tight.

"The Cheese Stands Alone" is the ballad of a band called Echolyn. Great vocals. Keyboard solo sounds better live with Buzby's new gear than it does here. So it goes. The second half of the song is incredible. The payoff vocal line is one of Weston's best moments.

And now on to side 2 (I think of this as a record with three sides)

Prose is a brief little piano and drums piece which leads into "A Short Essay", the first of a cycle of songs which appear to be a meditation on decision making, death, judgment, and responsibility through a Christian-ish lens. The wordless chorus is great. Once Echolyn matured after their reformation they started doing less three part harmonies. (They are still there, but they are mixed more naturally instead of being front and center) I love their new sound, but Lord do I miss those sunny three part harmonies.

One strong point of "As the World", besides every single song being awesome from beginning to end, is that the band was developing a sense of taste and didn't get goofy as much. Well, "My Dear Wormwood" is delightfully strange. In terms of songs based on CS Lewis books, this makes Narnia by Steve Hackett and the Guy From Kansas look like "I think It's Going to Rain Today". It's circus music combined with ersatz death metal and its the best.

"Entry 11-19-93" might be the band's best song. In many ways this prefigures their later work--simpler arrangement, better lyrics. I don't know if the lyrics of this song were truly found in a diary of a relative who had finished their days at a nursing home. I surely hope not because that would be a depressing way to go. The song is carried by strings and gorgeous harmonies. "I sit by the window tied to this chair / they've turned off my set / it's quiet time". Powerful stuff.

The song segues seamlessly into "One for the Show", an earnest take on the idea of individual judgment and the self knowledge that comes with it. Brett Kull does a nice job singing this one.

Side Three: The Wiblet is a 45 second long instrumental. Piano and percussion stand out. It is fiendishly complex. All bands on the Cuneiform label should re-write all of their songs to make them exactly 45 seconds.

Audio Verite alternates dense and not-so-dense sections. The bridge is incredible. Blasts of three part harmonies over a ferocious bassline and dirty organ.

"Settled Land" is quiet then loud then quiet. The quiet parts are lush and evocative. Kind of like one or two of the songs that weren't terrible on "We Can't Dance" by Genesis. The loud part features a "Horton Hears a Who" reference and a Stephen King one too for good measure.

"A Habit Worth Forming" is a guitar solo within a love song. Both parts are quite good. Ray Weston's vocals are the highlight

"Never the Same" is the swansong of 90s Echolyn. It is about death, but from a much sunnier place than their later works on the subject. It's got strings! It's got a singalong chorus! It's got a rambunctious bridge! It has a fade out! (Your major label dollars at work). Great song.

This is an incredible piece of work. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#1451080)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Echolyn has always been a conundrum when trying to listen and analyze their music. It's not terrible, but I've never been the biggest fan.

Perhaps I've just never given them a full in-depth listen. "Suffocating The Bloom", I never finished. It sounded like typical outdated 90's prog I just couldn't take it anymore. "As The World", however, shows their attempt to move towards a more accessible, catchier prog. Although I could never recite the lyrics to the title track, the fact that the groove is in 5/8 makes swinging along to it predictable, and slightly enjoyable, but frankly that may be an exception to the rule. "Uncle" is a lengthy 7 minute track that I can't describe, other for the fact that there was singing of notes atop notes played by guitars and synth with some drums playing in the background. It's not a static track, either, it occasionally jutters and stutter-steps across syncopated rhythms, but for the life of me, I can't remember much of it.

And frankly the album suffers from much of the same syndrome. It still feels like "90's prog", honest, good-working, well-tempered musicians trying hard to create a genre that not only sounds dated, but feels and behaves dated as well. The attempt to marry catchy songs with traditional prog is a good attempt, but the 90's just weren't the day and age to really do that. The only band to really garner respect from it (in my mind) was Spock's Beard, and even then Morse's voice sounded (and still at times) a bit flat, lacking clarity and quality, almost the achilles' heel of 90's prog.

For those who DO like 90's sounding prog, both "Suffocating The Bloom" and "as The World" are perfect, but this album at least has a good attempt in simple, distilled swings at the catchy prog bat. I haven't gotten to their newest album yet, but as of this review, I still hold "The End Is Beautiful" as their greatest achievement so far. A brilliant balance of Echolyn's styles and influences that began to really brew at the start of this album.

Report this review (#1451209)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one is perhaps my favourite of the major echolyn albums of the 1990s, charting as it does an intriguing middle course from the neo-progesque accessibility and catchiness of their self-titled debut album and the more esoteric complexity and experimentalism of Suffocating the Bloom. They do not, for instance, go all-out for the intricate Gentle Giant-esque vocal interplay that they dabbled with on Suffocating the Bloom, but they do show the influence of that band. In particular, they have masterfully managed the same knack that Gentle Giant had, especially in their early years, of balancing technical complexity with beauty and accessibility.

It could have been a wonderful gateway drug to prog for so many - and for quite a few, of course, it was. But it's a tremendous shame that Sony refused to help promote the album at all, leaving echolyn to handle that by themselves; what, after all, is the point of signing someone to a multi-album record deal on the strength of releases like the far less commercial and far more oblique Suffocating the Bloom, only to abruptly get cold feet as soon as the musicians produce an album for you? But hey, it works for me.

Report this review (#1644910)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2016 | Review Permalink

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