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Harvest - Chasing Time CD (album) cover

CHASING TIME

Harvest

Neo-Prog


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octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars This is an album which requires many listens specially for me because I'm no longer used to neo-prog. My first impact with this second full length release by the Spanish band HARVEST has left me undecided, so I had to bring my ears back to when I was a Marillion's (Fish) fan.

I mean that neo-prog fans will surely like this album. It sounds between MARILLION and MOSTLY AUTUMN. Monique van der Kolk has a voice that I find similar (but not identical) to Heather Finlay and Steve Rothery guests on one track.

"Roundabout" is a very good song with the rhythmic part and even the guitar which appear influenced by the Marillion. It's Monique's voice which gives an added value to the song. It's very melodic. It's the kind of song that could become a hit with the right promotion but because it's good, not because it's more or less commercial.

A good start for the album, followed by "Intuition". Also on this song the vocals are the most relevant element together with the 12-strings guitar (at least I think it's a 12-strings) which helps the drums. I don't hear any Marillion here, maybe just a bit in the guitar solo. The melody is strong enough.

Piano and vocals open "The Spell". This is one of the highlights. Something in the sounds used made me think to pop bands like Cranberries or early U2, but the core is surely progressive.

"The Machine" is another very good song perfectly midway between MARILLION and MOSTLY AUTUMN on which Monique's vocals are almost perfect. Let me say that while the Marillion's influence is very clear and confirmed by the presence of Steve Rothery, a link with Mostly Autumn is something that I feel but I don't know if it's really an influence or just my idea.

"Time Lapse" starts on acoustic guitar with chords not very original to be honest. This song makes me think to PHIDEAUX, not a bad thing, anyway, and if you don't look for surprises the melody is good enough. After Monique there's a male voice (I don't know who is), then the two sing in choir in a little crescendo. Also the melody changes so that the song appears not so trivial like at a first glance.

A bit of rock comes with "In Debris", but it's only the intro. After few seconds we are in another very melodic song. Good melody also here, but there are probably too many slow songs in sequence. Probably a different tracklist with uptime and slow songs alternated would have been better. In any case this is not a boring song, don't get me wrong. Before the moment when electric guitar and drums make it rockier, it makes me think to Susan Vega, that's not prog but is an artist that I like. The second part of the song is again between Marillion and Mostly Autumn with an excellent interlude leading to a good guitar solo. Forgive the repetition: this album even if apparently easy requires several listens.

Another acoustic guitar intro for "Yesteryear". This song has a country-rock flavor. Monique sounds like a folk-singer. When the bass enters musically it's like being in the Fish era with a touch of Peter Gabriel here the vocals are very high-pitched. Nice song.

I again hear similarities with Susan Vega on the opening of "Unknown Skylines", but Susan's voice is not so powerful. This song is not comparable to Marillion or any other band. It's like the band is slightly finding its own sound.

"Silent Run" is an atmospheric track on which the vocals are sometimes very high-pitched, like KATE BUSH on Wuthering Heights. I don't know on which track Rothery plays,. Whoever plays, it's a very good solo. Not fast or difficult, but with all the notes in the right place. As in the previous song, also here I have the impression to hear the research of a more "personal" sound.

"Stars" which closes the album is the longest track. Imagine the Marillion of the early Hogarth period with Heather Finlay at the vocals and you'll have an idea of how it sounds. The guitar is more gilmouresque (can it be this the Rothery track?). I like particularily the bass solo interlude after 3 minutes and a half which leads to a section dominated by the guitar. This is the most complex track and an excellent closer. I haven't realized how good it is on the first listens, probably because I'm currently so involved with Avant and Zeuhl that I had to adapt my ears to less experimental music.

I have some difficulties about the rating. In the 4 stars definition "Excellent addition to ANY prog collection" I'm a bit concerned about the word "ANY".

Surely neo-prog and prog-folk fans will like this album a lot. "Non-essential" doesn't make justice as it's effectively a good album.

I'm rating it with 3 stars but I strongly suggest it to whoever loves this subgenre. The band is more than promising and I like their musicianship other than the excellent vocals. Having rounded up their debut I'm not feeling guilty also because I have taken 3 days to write this review and I hope to have done a good job.

With my compliments to the band. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#770071)
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Harvest return to the fray with Chasing Time, and a welcome return it is too. The debut, Underground Community, was one of the best albums of 2009, and it is always interesting to see whether a new band can develop and improve. On both counts, this excellent band deliver.

Before detailing the album in full, I would wish to quote a passage from my review of Underground Community. I said: "Forays into harder material are not as effective as much else here. They should stick to the tuneful, because it is clearly what they are best at". Well, thankfully, the band took not a blind bit of notice of me, because it is those very harder tracks which absolutely shine out on this album.

Opener, Roundabout, starts off at a fair old pace, with solid riffs at the heart of an enjoyable rocker, interspersed with melodic interludes. Highlight, though, of the album, and a contender for track of the year, is the incredible The Machine, which deals with an agonising story, that of a boy watching his father burning in the garden shed. Worse, the father has committed the act deliberately, and pronounces "I wanted you to be proud" at the denouement. From a deceptively melodic opening passage, the track develops into a dark, foreboding, and emotional piece of music in which the ensemble excel, with particular mention going to swirling keyboards leading with heavy riffs and a doom laden rhythm section. Quite brilliant.

Those familiar with this band will know of the Marillion connection, and this is taken further by a guest appearance by the great Steven Rothery. This, however, is not the only star turn, for Alan Reed, formerly of Pallas, also provides guest vocals.

To Reed first. He provides vocals on Time Lapse, and his harmonies on this lovely ballad with Monique van der Kolk are another highlight of the year for me, thus far. A track full of melancholic heartache, with some great acoustic guitar work by Jordi Prats, this is special, as is the orchestration that sings at the close.

As for Rothery, he provides slide & soloing guitars on In Debris, and this is, perhaps understandably, the most recognisable song in terms of Marillion influence here, except, of course, there is no cover this time. The band have matured, in my opinion, beyond that. Fans of Steven's work will love it, but it should be made clear that he is guesting here on a Harvest track, and another one that shows their development as an outfit, especially in the heavier moments.

Before commenting on the remainder of this album, I think it might be apposite to point out that whilst Reed & Rothery (especially) might be good friends of the band, the pair of them are far too professional to appear on any old rubbish as merely friends. They guest on material that is worthy of their considerable talents, and this has it in spades.

Their are no epics here, as with the debut. The longest track is the closer, Stars, clocking in at just over eight minutes long. It is a track that those who found much of Happiness Is The Road a great experience will enjoy here, for there is a similarity in the way that a deceptively meandering piece of music can entrance and drag the listener into the experience. Jordi Amela, especially, provides some great keyboards, whilst the rhythm section of Alex Ojea on drums and Roger Vilageliu on bass fairly pound proceedings along. The guitar solos are also excellent, especially as the track concludes.

Elsewhere, we have the lovely Yesteryear, a short track, which marks the passage of time in an all too familiar way for those of us of a certain vintage.

Unknown Skylines is the one track which I have had to listen to most in order to get a true appreciation, but patience has its rewards, for this is similar to some of the best of the debut in that it matches the band's clear prog tone with post-indie sensibilities. Complex, and dark in places, another very solid piece of music.

Silent Run is another track which deals very effectively with a pretty difficult subject matter, this time the betrayal and bullying of a woman by a man, and her flight from the situation. This is another very good piece of music, with the blues right at its heart (if, by now, you were thinking reading this review that Harvest are not your "typical" neo-prog band, then you would be absolutely right. They are far more than that), before exploding into a massive wall of sound that puts many a heavy prog band to shame, and concluding with a dark and heavy strung out riff.

Intuition is a good melodic track, with some nice piano featuring strongly, and another well executed guitar solo to close, whilst The Spell is one of those pieces of music which you want to take to bed with you each and every night. A track about dreams, van der Kolk's vocals are rich, lush, and, honestly, to die for. The denouement is heavily Marillion influenced.

This is an excellent album. It was already on my "to buy" list for 2012 on release, simply because I enjoyed Underground Harvest so much. So, when the band, out of the blue, contacted me and sent me the CD to review, it was a very pleasant surprise.

They haven't disappointed at all. I gave the first album 3.5 stars, rounded up to four because of PA's rating system. For this one, a straight four. Harvest are a very strong outfit, with four fine musicians, and, in Monique van der Kolk, my favourite female prog vocalist of current times (and there is some pretty strong competition for that). Her voice is simply beautiful, and is at the heart of all that is going on here.

Very highly recommended, this is a self released CD available on the band's website now.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#773921)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
PH
4 stars HARVEST is a relatively new group from Barcelona. They have several good friends in high progressive places, given that their second CD 'Chasing Time' feature Alan Reed (ex-Pallas) and Steve Rothery (Marillion). But the core members are: Jordi Amela (keyboards), Monique van der Kolk (vocals), Alex Ojea (drums), Jordi Prats (guitar) and Roger Vilageliu (bass). While Monique's lead singing binds together all tracks with a common mood, the instrumentals drift into more experimental territory to contain sequenced keyboard passages and melodic layers of excellent guitar work. Really strong rhythm section contributes to the build-up, encouraging introspection. In sum, Harvest has produced an intriguing collection of songs that sets them pretty well - in every direction with lot of creativeness and talent.

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Send comments to PH (BETA) | Report this review (#1097889)
Posted Sunday, December 22, 2013 | Review Permalink

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