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5 stars Wow !!!!

This band has been flying under the radar for a while before they exploded onto the scene with this album, releaese by F2/Festival Records and getting some mainstream magazines attention with the aid of this label. Well deserved, too. The band is lead by Rob Armstrong who is the only full time member. But he is helped by It Bites, The Tangent and Also Eden members on his albums. And they all do a great job they can and should be proud of.

The result of all this work is a melancholic neo-prog album with a lot of references to Manning, The Tangent, Dw Dunphy and Steven Wilson. It is essentially a British neo prog album, soundwise. It is the product of a strong vision which does not follows any trends. Call it a cottage industry product if you want. The end result is very comparable with what the other cottage industry bands Manning and The Tangent is doing. Cosmograf and these bands are very underground.

In short; if you like melancholic prog and the likes of The Tangent and Manning; flash your credit card towards Cosmograf.

The sound is excellent. Both on a big stereo rack and on a MP3 player. It needs to be because the songs demands full clarity. The songs has some hard guitars and some great electric guitar solos. But most of all; this is a pastoral album which does not shout. It rather whisper most of the time. It is said that Rob Armstrong has a special voice which is an aquired taste. Is it ? His voice is superb and perfectly well suited for the material on this album. Material which off course is written by Rob for his own voice.

When Age Has Done It's Duty is a concept album about growing old and coming to terms with it. It was written after his own personal experiences with this issue in his near family. A good theme. That means the album is very melancholic and themed towards an issue most people have difficult dealing with. The very strong title track is a track most here will find difficult to deal with. That includes myself for personal reasons. The thirteen minutes long title track is brilliant and the best song on this album. But not with much. The other songs are superb too. Yes, the theme is a bit depressing and not good news when dealing with a body who rattles, creaks and groans. "When Age Has Done It's Duty". Yes, I know the feeling....... Hand me the deep heat spray, love.

But it is not the (painful) familiarity with the stuff and lyrical topics on this album which awards this album almost a top score in my view. It is the melodies and the whole ambience of the album which I am falling for. I regard this album as the best neo-prog album I have heard since Clutching At Straws (Marillion) and a masterpiece. I am inbetween 4.75 and 5 stars here. But despite not being top notch here, this album will probably grow a lot more on me in the coming years. The lyrics too is very strong and will resonates with a lot of ProgArchives members. Hence, I award five stars and ignores the wagging finger from the forum engine.

5 stars

Report this review (#551191)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Cosmograf is a progressive rock project led by talented, UK based multi-instrumentalist Robin Armstrong. 'When Age Has Done Its Duty' is Cosmograf's third album release since 2008 and sees the band signed to F2 Records, a move which will hopefully increase publicity and heighten the band's profile. Whilst the music here is refreshingly original it will doubtless appeal to fans of Pink Floyd, Genesis and Porcupine Tree as well as all aficionados of classic rock. This is a concept album that centres around the themes of ageing and personal experiences whilst growing up. Amongst others, members of It Bites, Also Eden and The Tangent guest on the album. 'Into This World' opens proceedings in a menacing manner. Acoustic piano lines meander around you unsettlingly until raw, digitally delayed guitar power chords stutter and poke at you. 'Born in a world, where it's great to be young' Robin crows in a restrained but angst- ridden voice as a powerful chorus raises the ante (I'm the wrong side of 40, so I know what Robin means !!). Robin later treats us to a wicked guitar solo that matches the attitude of his vocals and screams with the anguish of a banshee. Clocking in at eleven minutes, this track is one of several epics on the album. The music progresses in a more pastoral manner on 'Blacksmith's Hammer', where the rich acoustic guitars match the imagery of the lyrics: 'He worked in a forge at the end of the field'. The third track, 'On Which We Stand' sees melody brought strongly to the fore, as intricate musical lines weave together evoking early Genesis and ethnical British themes. The aspirational harmonies of this piece yield to a melancholic and haunting organ passage. This slowly builds into an anthemic climax complete with an ultra expressive Gilmour-esque guitar solo that sends shivers down your spine..... The value of friends can never be under stated and on the next two tracks Robin's guests prove their faith in this project by virtue of their inspired contributions. Luke Machin of The Tangent offers a 'state of the art' guitar solo on 'Bakelite Switch' which Robin replies to perfectly with swirling Hammond organ riffs. A nostalgic glimpse at 70's family life, this track rocks seriously in places and proceeds with a real sense of urgency. Just when you thought Luke's solo was the song's peak, Robin's countdown at the end provides a further incredible sense of excitement and crescendo. Meanwhile on 'Memory Lost' Huw LLoyd-Jones' guest vocals bleed and ache with a passion and yearning that you can genuinely feel flowing through the air. The music here is beautifully laid back. The title track starts with a three minute narrated poem, which isn't my favourite moment of the album, whilst the remaining ten minutes of this piece evoke a Floydian epic, climaxing with a rousing guitar solo. 'White Light Awaits' features keyboards 'a la Vangelis' and the welcome return of some heavy guitar based themes used in the opening track. 'Dog On The Clee' closes the album. Here an ethereal melody and atmosphere, created with acoustic guitars and angelically flavoured vocals, provides an emotional epitaph to the earlier themes of the album. Production on the album is well balanced, unlike many recent releases there is nothing over blown here. Also worthy of mention is the stalwart work of Bob Dalton who provides drums for the first six tracks. For me this is a strong contender for album of the year and will surely be hailed as a classic in the future. If you like prog or classic rock buy it without hesitation.
Report this review (#552147)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Growing old

By design, this is I believe a great concept album as it tells about growing old - even from the album title you can have a sense of what it's all about. It actually fits with my requirements as I am growing old. In fact, everyone does. Musically I was prompted by my friend that it's a stunning neo-prog album by Cosmograf - a band that I knew nothing at all despite it's already the third album. When I listened to it the first time my impression was on the sonic production quality of the album. In fact this album reminds me to Dutch band TRIANGLE which also has great sonic production. The music? It's similar to TRIANGLE but it's much more mellow this one by Cosmograf. The one thing similar with Triangle is the vocal quality - especially this one by Cosmograf - that sounds strange to my ears. It's like the vocal does not blend nicely with the music. Well might be a matter of taste I believe.

The music offered by this album is good in terms of overall composition and how it represents a concept album as the lyrics as well as the music flow quite well from one part to another. The opening track "Into This World" (11:15) is really a good one to enjoy. I like the combination of mellow parts as well as the heavier one especially those with stunning guitar work. But after the first track I cannot get my adrenalin flows faster as the music tends to be mellow in all parts in the album. Yes - they are good music overall but there is no dynamic demonstrated as usually progressive music has. There are many Floydian guitar solos and all of them I love very much. I can enjoy the music under ear candy prog with relatively no challenge in complexities in any part of the music.

In conclusion, I still recommend those of you who love mellow neo-prog music to have this album as the melody is good and the composition is good as well. It's just not as dynamic I would have expected. Keep on proggin' ..!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#581070)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was recomended this album by a friend who had seen reviews saying it was similar to Sean Filkins album, War And Peace & Other Short Stories. It is similar, Conceptual long tracks, the use of effects, guest musicians, and great playing by Armstrong and all the guests, and great vocals, but that is where the similarity ends. There is no doubting that the musicians can play but instead of the songs making me want to play the CD again straight after hearing it, I felt it was just ok. Like the tracks were just built into long tracks because that's what is expected that progressive rock is all about. The sound effects, some of them, I felt where just added for the sake of adding effects to. Like I said above there is some great playing on here, but some of the solos seem to jump out at you, above what I felt was comfortable for the rest of the mix, again adding to that feeling that the tracks were written almost as a mathematical exercise rather than as songs. Don't get me wrong there is enough on here to enjoy but after repeated listens it just doesn't excite and make me want more.
Report this review (#589477)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The journey of Mr. Robin Armstrong continues in 2011 with the album ''When age has done its duty'', after Cosmograf was signed by the Festival/F2 label.Armstrong was inspired for this concept by a loss within his family circle and the album deals with the process of ageing.While he handles again multiple instruments and sings, this work features also some great guests: Huw Lloyd-Jones (vocals), Simon Rogers (guitars) and Steve Dunn (bass) from Also Eden, It Bites' drummer Bob Dalton, Luke Machin (guitars) of The Tangent and Maschine fame, Galahad's Lee Abraham on guitars/bass, Steve Thorne on lead and backing voices as well as drummer Dave Ware.

It seems that such a living concept, a real personal experience, was what Armstrong needed to fully develop his talent as a composer.''When age has done its duty'' contains some impressive dramatic passages and melancholic movements, really suitable to such a dark and deeply emotional concept, divided in eight tracks, most of which are longer than seven minutes.The album appears to a be a nice tribute to the history of British Progressive Rock, covering the years of the symphonic-oriented groups, giving respect to the thrilling vibes of PINK FLOYD, visiting the rural soundscapes of the British lands and transmitting the modern echoes of bands like ARENA and PORCUPINE TREE.Once more an album by Cosmograf serves the need for atmospheric soundscapes, but two years of added experience have showed Robin how to do this properly.The album features some great, Classical-drenched preludes on organ, bucolic GENESIS-influenced acoustic passages and the heavier/modern tunes of contemporary Prog, displayed on the edgy electric guitars and the mascular synthesizers.ALSO EDEN are also among the bands, which Cosmograf recall of, while the love for old Prog is also evident in a couple of Mellotron samplers and the RICK WAKEMAN-like organ showering.Armstrong has given space to some instrumental maturity, but his lyrical moments belong also among the album's highlights.

Finally, Robin has found its own, inspired way to offer his music ideas.Contemporary Progressive Rock with atmosphere, passion and sensitivity in full display.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1195402)
Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars 1. Into This World waking up, heartbeat, yes it smells like floyds; a dark, melancholy air, a deadly ballad in a battlefield; a surprising riff, the velvety synth, an exchange of rock, prog, musical mystery; the atmosphere between latency and circumspection; mid-course and the angelic break with choir and crystalline piano to amplify the emotion; a little BOWIE, a little LOU REED, latency again before the enjoyable solo guitar explosion which sets off on a very good metal prog, the kind that will send shivers down your spine; dark finale, the circle is done, 2. Blacksmith's Hammer acoustic guitar, pronounced vocals, languorous choirs, a solemn rise, yes we are in the theme with the ravages of time. A ballad that smells of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST with a southern slide guitar, take a swing of the hammer and we move on to 3. On Which We Stand with the triangle instead; gentle melody with a warm church organ; a slow, syrupy rhyme which winds up gently but surely, which is worth its Gilmourian final solo at the start, more tormented later, on PENDRAGON 4. Bakelite Switch begins funfair in the distance; a dog, cries not the kettle of water, a similar piece with long rise and a warm organ making the sauce rise even more; acoustic arpeggio break before the countdown and a new strident guitar solo from Luke reminiscent of ANATHEMA, immense; go have a party and

5. Memory Lost yet another awakening, the passing of time, the ravages of time on our body, what could be more logical; it's Huw who sings, a hint of the late John WETTON on a tune that is all too well known by KING CRIMSON; between emotion and sensitivity; a piece where emotion flows and which makes everything stop 6. When Age Has Done Its Duty for the eponymous title, wandering a cappella with Steve on vocals then a rise, yes the sound arises, more melodic with final explosion of the guitar solo which is really the centerpiece of this group at least on this album; the contemplative finale with ringing, sound in the distance, 7. White Light Awaits beep beep of a cardio machine, things are racing, the end is near; a space synth à la Jean Michel JARRE hits our mind; it goes up, a nasty, not to say hard, riff starts, it continues to go up, yes Lee is having fun and I like it even more; yes easy but the much hoped for hard-prog association allowed this idyllic sound, half demon, half musical angel; cover yourself the wind is coming 8. Dog On The Clee as finale, supporting bell; intimate ballad with monolithic keyboard, acoustic guitar, a tune that echoes and which rests with so many emotions at the end of a busy hour.

Report this review (#2439172)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2020 | Review Permalink

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