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Nine Stones Close - One Eye On The Sunrise CD (album) cover

ONE EYE ON THE SUNRISE

Nine Stones Close

Neo-Prog


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tszirmay
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Crossover Team
5 stars I just received my package from Holland, the new shimmering release from Nine Stones Close as well as a personal message from Adrian Jones, a simple little gesture that showcases the class that will be expressed in musical form as I stick this one into the music machine. This band really knocked me sideways with their debut 'Traces' (for which Adrian kindly included the 'Retraced' bonus disc), a collection of emotionally dense progressive rock that featured sensational songs, impeccable playing as well as some of the most pained vocals ever. Needless to say, this sophomore effort will determine the mark Nine Stones Close may earn in the prog galaxy and the adding of bassist Peter Vink (formerly of Dutch legend Finch) as well as Pieter van Hoorn on drums, a former member of Knights Area certainly has set the bar at a very high level. Obviously, the rhythm section is solid as one could hope for. Lead vocalist Marc Atkinson has a style unique to his own, imagine a mix of Mark Hollis (Talk Talk) and Steve Hoggarth with lots of personal flourishes and you get the message. Keyboardist Brendan Eyre is a masterful coloring agent, using his various boards with delicate parsimony, ornate piano, crawling synth carpets and some brooding organ to fulfill the more masculine sections. Adrian is a superb guitarist with tons of flair and bravado, certainly moving away from overt comparisons to Latimer or Gilmour by injecting more organic sounds (acoustic guitar on the otherwise breathtaking 'Janus').

The serene e-piano intro on 'Faceless Angel' evolves into a sweeping synth-based orchestration that caresses the soul and prepares the table exquisitely, a flashy axe solo to get the goose bumps going (as the mellotron howls in the background). Yummy!

'A Secret' proposes a soporific Atkinson vocal, deeply agonized and fragile (hints of David Sylvian), minimalist instrumental workings with subtle acoustic guitar slashes and electronic wooshes with drums entering the fray most majestically. The whole sounds very current Marillion with Adrian finally unleashing a whizzing solo that has a 'While my Guitar Gently Weeps' feel to it. Hush, my children, big boys don't cry!

The glorious 'Janus', as mentioned earlier, is a stunner, fueled by a haunting and repetitive guitar wail, bass rumbling along, drums fixated on the road ahead and a purely hypnotic brew. The regal piano meanders lovingly through the spellbinding fray, abetted by the swooning lead guitar, itself aided by some superb acoustic guitar, both played by Adrian. This leads into the short guitar duel (Adrian with himself)) on ''....and dream of sleep' , keeping things pastoral and acoustic. The overall mood is one of laid back confidence, at times almost ambient soundscapes that have no restrictive elements, gently meandering sounds until the arrival of the bulldozer 'One Eye on the Sunrise' , where the guys eventually cook up a storm. The title track begins placid enough, just a continuation of the previous mood led by an acoustic guitar and a plaintive voice, a somber cello exalting the pain and then'..Boom! The shift towards hard and harsh becomes overpowering, dissonance and brutality in emotional embrace, raging organ swirls, pulsating bass and brash guitar riffs complete the musical manifesto. This is not the easy listen one was accustomed to from the onset, a deep sense of foreboding and almost doom (like early Anathema). The track then settles down nicely into a more symphonic approach, taking its sweet time in developing a newer austere mood (that gorgeous Katy Bell cello again). Frankly, this is no neo-prog but what the hell! The second time around, the oomph factor is even more pronounced, Atkinson really getting rousingly poignant and the crescendo effect is quite stunning, slippery Adrian solo flashes that burn up the sky, steering it all towards a swirling delirium.

Back to some more contemplative stuff on the brief 'Eos', a fastidious and temperamental piece that shows off Adrians guitar skills once again.

'The Weight', as the title may imply is a heavier nugget, classic blues-based prog colored by unexpected hues of melancholy and deep emotion. The Marillion comparison is quite obvious here, not some cheap copy or a fawning tribute, just a stylistic parallel that deserves mention. References to 'Sunrise' appear once again confirming the relationship with the Brave boys. Fans of the aforementioned will adore this track, album and artist to no end. Spooky electronic effects add even more experimentation to the mix, Adrian unleashing some trembling finger food that sweeps along grandly. Marc gives a unique vocal, full of deep emotion. Wow!

'The Distance' keeps the flow going, dreamily atmospheric, unabashedly romantic and simply gorgeous, Brendan's keys diligently painting the arrangement (like only Mr. Barbieri can), forlorn piano and spatial effects amid the fretboard wisps. This is tremendously soporific in a good sense, pastoral and grandiose, almost haunting.

The highlight 13 minute + epic 'Frozen Thought' has a rather unique attribute, a 'Hocus Pocus' by Focus riff at the start that is lusciously perverse (hello Jan!) which evolves in a variety of directions (as all good prog epics should). The pulsating Van Hoorn drum work supplies a broad framework to groove to, 'something divine' to move the soul, glacial burns and overwhelming coalescence, this is perhaps the band's finest moment, a true classic. The contrasts between the soft and harsh are remarkable; the lead vocal is totally entrancing. Stolen Earth's Heidi Widdop provides some passionate female vocals to the mix, while Adrian utterly shines on the axe (evoking even my hero Phil Manzanera at times) , sweeping crystalline riffs and ripping some fiery solos to boot, aided here by guest axeman Matt Stevens . The frenzy is ecstatic, the playing absurdly competent (check out them drums!) and the liberating sense of rage is spellbinding. The final section is just incredible, needs to be heard by all fans of prog.

The album ends with 'Sunset' an apt title as one could imagine, cello and piano in complete harmony, like 2 lovers grateful for the day that has passed and the music that was played.

Nine Stones Close have successfully passed the sophomore jinx grade and I cannot recommend this album enough, a perfect compliment to their debut. Lovely artwork completes the deal. I eagerly await their future output. Bravo Adrian and bravo to the boys in the band!

5 Solar Irises

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#851697)
Posted Tuesday, November 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
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Crossover Team
4 stars When one has raved over an album by a band, there is always a small concern when the next one arrives that it may not be in the same league so it was a little hesitantly that I started playing this one when it arrived. Happily I can report that I had absolutely nothing to worry about! The follow-up from 'Traces' is in a similar vein, but perhaps with just a little more polish and finesse. Adrian Jones Adrian (Numb, Lie Big) Brendan Eyre (Riversea) and Marc Atkinson (Mandalaband, Riversea) have been joined now by Peter Vink (Q65/Ayreon/Star One/Finch) and Pieter van Hoorn (Knight Area) and the result is yet another extremely layered and complex album with elements of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Marillion and Flower Kings.

If you want to hear just how majestic symphonic prog can be then look no further than "Janus" where every member has a chance to shine, and even simple repeated piano arpeggios can have a major impact on the overall sound. The acoustic guitar on this brings a whole new facet to proceedings and the only complaint is that at six minutes long it is just way too short! I could happily play it all day. This is a very easy album to listen to, as opposed to easy listening, with music and melodies combining together to take the listener on a musical journey. There is no stress or strain, just a whole new world. I am actually writing this review in a McDonald's whilst listening to this on headphones, and what I can see away from my screen is a world far removed from the one in my ears and therefore in my mind. The world of Nine Stones Close is a place of harmony and serenity, one where it all makes sense, and this album takes you there. www.progrockrecords.com

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#862003)
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
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Symphonic Team
5 stars Nine Stones Close impressed me with their debut 'Traces' in 2010, and I have been looking forward to more from this innovative band. It is the type of music that will resonate with a listener in a variety of ways according to what they are going through at the time of listening, whether it be a sudden loss, a moment of epiphany or simply a change in life's direction. The lyrics on 'One Eye on the Sunrise' are cathartic focussing on dealing with pain and recovery. The music is overall beautifully ambient with moments of darkened chaos strengthened by distorted guitar chords at the hands of Adrian Jones and off kilter drumming.

The artwork by the talented Antonio Seijas is stunning throughout the booklet, consisting of depictions of streaked sunsets and silhouetted figures painted into the frame. The canvas works as a prompt that this is a work of beauty and yet has tinges of darkness, in the same way these nuances were embedded on 'Traces'.

Nine Stones Close are certainly well covered when it comes to skill and dexterity. Bassist Peter Vink has played in many bands including the Dutch band Finch, and drummer, Pieter van Hoorn, has had some experience with Knights Area. The keyboards are at the hands of Brendan Eyre (Riversea) and visionary lyricist Adrian Jones (Numb) is a delight on lead guitar. The lead vocals are well executed from Marc Atkinson (Riversea), who seems to be able to capture the melancholy emotions without being over the top, allowing the listener to bring their own meaning to the lyrics.

Opening with glorious chimes and retro sounding Mellotron, 'Faceless Angel' immediately captivates drawing us into a dreamscape. The distorted guitars crash through in a display of power, and the tempo is curiously slow and it builds with a fascinating layer of keyboards. The muscular lead break is Pink Floyd inspired like 'Comfortably Numb'; and that is only the first 3 minutes.

The next track, 'A Secret' (5:33), has a clean guitar crystalline sound. The soft vocals of Marc Atkinson enter, always a wonderful component of the band. This gentle delivery has the power to entrance, and the swathes of keyboards immerse the listener. During the verses there is a stripped back feel, with a calming resonance as the tale unfolds. The concept is loose on this album, having a lot to do with, according to Adrian Jones, 'a concept about sunlight and darkness, how they make me feel.' It is easy to find the references to the dark and light, the sunset and the sunrise, in the lyrics. The words are open to interpretation but revolve around feelings of remorse and searching to pick up the pieces after prolonged periods of loss and emptiness after the pain of a secret event that has irreparably damaged two lives. 'A Secret' is a gentle song with poignant lyrics concerning how difficult it is to retain a secret world of privacy when your life is an open book , 'Stay where I can see you, Right before my eyes, Stay where I can see you, Tell me all of your lies.' It feels as though two lovers are separating and a secret between then is now eating at the soul and swallowing her whole. The song is a warning not to reveal hidden mysteries or one day they may come back to swallow you.

'Janus' (5:46) is an amazing instrumental with very beautiful nuances to stir the emotions. Pastoral textures are scattered with lead guitar augmentations, over wide sweeping plains of synth. There are swells of sensuous guitar and very plaintive piano. There are valleys of thunderous drumming and mountains of driving bass. The melody is well held by the hypnotic sustained guitar wails and piano motif; a genuinely gorgeous piece of music.

Acoustic vibrations and haunting tranquil piano are the main instruments used on '... and dream of sleep' (1:53). It is nice to hear such an emphasis on acoustic for these shorter pieces. The first major highlight comes with the mini epic 'One Eye On The Sunrise', (12:09) driven by a laid back melody, meandering cello strings and acoustics. It builds into a delightful heavy guitar riff and powerhouse Hammond style playing. That grinding Hammond sound is incredible, and the way that the distorted guitar chords ring out, like metal meets Neo, is inspired musicianship. In one extended section there are symphonic violin-like serrations and a mantra that builds to a rather ethereal atmosphere. The lyrics are more chilling, speaking of an unseen dark presence that disturbs the protagonist as he struggles to come to terms with seclusion, 'somehow he is there, I'm suddenly aware, ice cold and dark, forever, never ending theme, blue and green, a wall of all things, ending.'

'Eos' (2:39) is a dreamy song with some crystalline guitar tones, and sweeping synth washes. The shorter tracks prepare us for the more lengthy dramatic songs. This speaks of hopes and fears that come as we focus on the sunrise. Adrian whips up a storm on guitar in this transition, sounding a lot like Gilmour's style, setting the scene for the next track. Indeed, this is a reminiscent sound to Pink Floyd's 1980 era.

'The Weight' (9:52) has some beautiful poetic lyrics sung with passion by Marc, 'two souls in the darkness, held together by light, we lie here together, hands held tight, we wait for the sunrise, as the world spins around as we speed toward dawn, without a sound'. The melody is strong and moves gently along waves of keyboards and guitar embellishments. There is an emphasis on emotional vocal delivery and sporadic rhythms providing an improvised time sig feel. It is very measured as though time is standing still. This makes sense in context with the lyrics, 'breathe again, feel and listen to slowing time as it pulls you down, you can lose your ground too far, too fast and you won't know how far you came'. The meter slows even further as a spacey reverb emanates, and it patiently meanders along with a narrative voice, until an outbreak of guitars over strong percussion. The sound builds to a crescendo and then an incredible lead guitar solo towers over, with immense string bends and sustained notes blazing. The song is definitely a highlight and grows all the more powerful on subsequent listens.

'The Distance' (4:55) is about coping with the battle scars of unrequited love, and the pain that follows from broken relationships. The lyrics are wracked in this pain, likening the incidence to a prolonged scar that becomes numbing after time, 'I feel no pain, on we go, just another day, staring into space, hearing but not listening, I feel the distance between us grow.' Again, this is a very slow paced ambient song, with melancholy vocals and phased guitar over lingering ghostly synths. The acoustics drip down like honey under the restrained somber vocals, that are heartfelt and broken; a remarkable infectious composition on the album.

'Frozen Moment' (13:35) is an outstanding track that continues the persistent concept of time coming to a halt, but it is heavier with a glowing cinder of metal distortion rising from the ashes. The keys layer the foundation of a spectral atmosphere, and the lyrics cement the feeling of loss and alienation. We hear the vestiges of memories and unrelenting regrets, with the protagonist left 'grasping for branches, clutching at straws,' a possible Marillion reference. Echoing in his head are the thoughts that somehow things could have been different but the moment is prepared for and unchangeable, 'dreaming in black and white, and living in grey, why did it come to this, I can't feel it anymore, I can't feel what I need to feel, need to feel, how did I become this way? Fade to grey, fade away, it felt like home.' As the song builds gradually to a crescendo, it enters the final extended coda that is a blistering lead guitar solo and staccato blasts of percussion and blood pumping synths. It is an incredible cacophony of sound and feels like the climax, as things get too much for the protagonist who is 'standing here alone' lost 'in the moment', becoming 'just dust and insignificance.' The music climbs to the peak slowly and then comes screaming down with a fast tempo, signifying the turmoil we experience with trials and tribulations becoming part of our existence; the rollercoaster of emotions we must all endure.

'Sunset' closes the album with a final peaceful tinkling of piano and tearful cello, as the dust settles and the sun sets again signifying another day above ground; a day where we may either surface or drown. The soundscape is teeming with symphonic smoothness and the silky strings are a soothing end to this masterful album.

It is sad to learn of vocalist Marc's departure on seeking to further his solo career, but I am certain the band will continue and we look forward to the progress of Nine Stones Close. Their latest album barrels swiftly along with the one concept, idea with meanings hidden in the mists of time. The existential lyrics will appeal to those who enjoy interpreting poetic imagery, the music is complex enough to appease prog addicts, and the melodies have a commercial appeal rather than detract from the overall experience. It is an enjoyable album that brims over with passion and an obvious love of the medium. A great deal of effort has been injected into the project, as much as with the previous 'Traces' and, although I was more into the preceding release, I still found this latest album to be a compelling pleasurable experience. It grew on me easily and was always a delight from beginning to end. My favourites are 'The Distance' that always gives me chills with its haunting ethereal atmosphere, the light and dark shades of 'Frozen Moment', and I am extremely fond of 'Janus', 'One Eye on the Sunset' and 'The Weight'. In fact this is all killer and no filler, and deserves the highest rating and recommendation.

Many listeners will relate personally to the lyrics more than I, although at one point I might have back in the distant past, but I still understood what the album was trying to say. Much of the lyrics may be attributed to the life threatening accident that Adrian experienced, and his recovery as he moved to the Netherlands. However, the themes are layered in complex imagery that will have a variety of meanings. Sunsets can mean many things to us; it could be a poignant moment in our lives, finding peace and tranquility, a final resting place, a new beginning of rejuvenation, a moment of celebration or a sharp ending of a harsh day, or simply a symbol of painterly beauty. Whatever the case, I believe Nine Stones Close have poured enough energy and vitality into their music to make the prog community sit up and take notice, though only the privileged few are in the know. This will all change as more and more people discover what a tremendous band they are and, it is said, if there is an artist on fire, people will come from miles around to watch them burn. Right now, Nine Stones Close are white hot and consolidating a strong reputation due to the highly skilled musicianship and desire to make a difference with music to immerse the senses.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#868354)
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nine Stones Close vocalist Marc Atkinson has a voice and style that, IMO, nearly duplicates the great voice of one of rock'n'roll's all-time greatest vocalists, rocker JON BON JOVI. That alone give this album some amazing weight. Now put that controlled, emotional voice together with some gorgeous, never-overdone neo prog music and you have the makings of a truly addictive listening experience. Lush beauty reigns supreme throughout this album and yet it retains--no, revels, in--its rock'n'roll roots and a neo-proggish sound palette. 1. "Faceless Angel" (2:55) is a pretty space-age instrumental that uses multiple keyboards in three or four layers to set up the 'surprise' entrance of a wailing lead guitar as the song kicks into third gear at the 1:25 mark. Very emotional gtr play over the perfect setting of beautiful keyboards. (10/10)

2. "A Secret" (5:33) is a simple yet gorgeous vocal ballad in which keys and strummed and picked acoustic guitars wailing electric guitar solo perform all of the accompanist duties until almost the three minute mark. Has a bit of a "My Guitar Gently Weeps" feel and sound to the music and guitar play. Not a complicated song but very hypnotic and well performed. (9/10)

3. "Janus" (5:46) is an instrumental that begins with modern keyboard play a la CHROMA KEY before keys fade to background synth washes while multiple lead guitar tracks wail away at the same single, awesomely bent note, repeated over and over over the revolving chord progression beneath. AT 2:30 this all stop and a piano practices shifting arpeggio chords for while before the rest of the band, bass, drums, synths, and strummed acoustic and soloing electric guitars play along. Even the acoustic guitar gets a little soloing in "Spanish style" in the last couple of minutes. Again, not a very complicated song, but gorgeously composed and executed. (9/10)

4. "?And Dream of Sheep" (1:52) begins with some acoustic guitar play--two guitar tracks playing with and off of one another--almost sounding like a WINDHAM HILL piece. Piano joins the two guitars at 0:54, then background synth strings. (9/10)

5. "One Eye on the Sunrise (12:06) begins with acoustic guitars and what sounds like a cello. Not far different in mood or feel from the previous song except that the vocalist soon enters with a cool, controlled performance--that is until 2:55 when all hell breaks out with a very BON JOVI "Wanted Dead Or Alive"-like explosion. For a minute we are lulled back into the intro themes--but his time by electrified instruments, not acoustic. Then, at 4:50 the full powered rock versioin of this song takes over. The vocal and guitars' strummed chord progressions are, admittedly, not very engaging at this point--too clichéd and stale sounding. Then at 6:30 everything stops. Electric guitars begin picking arpeggios again, treated cello floats in and around, Atkinson sings "Hey-ah" over and over. It's pretty. It might go on a bit too long. Finally, at 9:18 a new section begins, with Atkinson's dramatic vocal. He's so good! The emotions on display here are masterful! I just wish that the music was better. Incredible JOHN BONHAM-like drumming here--at 10:55 it kicks into a new (and totally unexpected) world of LED ZEPELLIN-like heights. Brillliant finale! (8/10)

6. "Eos" (2:39) has a very PINK FLOYD feel to it, start to finish. Starts like "Hey, You" until the amazing voice of Marc Atkinson graces the aural waves--on two levels! Guitar strums and guitar leads all feel so Gilmour-esque! This is most obviously a PINK FLOYD tribute song all the way--and probably the best I've ever heard, if I do say so myself. (9/10)

7. "The Weight" (9:51) has almost an 80s classic rock sound and feel to it--like one of those gorgeous emotional ballads by WHITESNAKE, BON JOVI, POISON, DEF LEPPARD, or even a 70s classic from JOURNEY. The song does suffer a tiny bit from several unusually long pauses--almost gaps--which make one wonder how many small parts might have been spliced together to make this ten minute beauty. (9/10)

8. "The Distance" (4:54) is another masterful vocal performance drawing from the same softer, ballad side of the classic rock masters of the 1980s. Not as proggy but a beauty anyway. (8/10)

9. "Frozen Moment" (13:34) starts like a great DEF LEPPARD song before the more modern drum (kick) style diverges. The electric guitar strum sound, however, is very old-- PAYOLAS or even PSYCHEDELIC FURS old. The first minutes of the song feel so 80s, even the background mix of the lead vocal is different from the previous songs. The coda at the four minute mark gives segue into another 80s-ish section--this one sounding even more like a cross between PAYOLAS "You've Got the Eyes of a Stranger" and Def LEPPARD's "Hysteria." The kick back into heavier gear in the seventh minute is more modern--with great sustained lead guitar and strummed acoustic guitars. I wonder if the "Frozen Moment" theme is being mimicked by the instrument sound choices. At 8:44 a heavier section with echoed background vocals kicks in to prep us for an awesome section with very cool lead guitar and drum interplay--very fresh and adrenaline pumping. Organ tries to get involved, and background mellotron, but all ears are still on the electric guitar and drums. Simply awesome! Three minutes into it and Adrian Jones is trying to go FRIPP-crazy! Same section plays out to the end! (9/10)

10. "Sunset" (1:28) is a pretty little outro-bookend, piano and violin. (8/10)

I'm really not much of a fan of either classic rock or Neo prog but the incredible levels of compositional and instrumental mastery coupled with one of the best voices I have ever heard make for quite a listening experience--one that I have been drawn back to over and over during the past few weeks. Album of the Year? Perhaps not for composition but for aural pleasure . . . ? Skies the limit for this group. You can be sure that I will be keeping my Eye on the Sunrise.

P.S. Thanks to Sunhillow and all those at progstreaming.com for allowing us commitment- free access to such a vast array of new release music. You are part of why I have become a believer and outspoken champion of the fact that Prog Is Alive and Well in the 21st Century.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#878184)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
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Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
4 stars NINE STONES CLOSE is the brainchild of guitarist Adrian Jones, who sometime left England in order to settle in The Netherlands. During recent years he succeded to collect a couple of musicians from wellknown dutch prog bands with the view to implement his musical ideas. So this is the fourth album in the meanwhile, what I can see. Some overwhelming appraisal attracted my attention in the end, and I took the time to make familiar with the current album 'One Eye On The Sunrise'.

First of all let me say that this music appears to me like an extremely emotional affair ... while considering that - in general - I have problems to figure non-native lyrics out. Thus, alternatively I mean those nearly plaintive guitars and the empathic singing voice for example, provided by Marc Atkinson. The complete sound comes with three M's - somewhat mournful, melancholic, majestic, which simply captivates after a while. This even includes heavy outbursts as well as peaceful acoustic ballads, put together quite naturally to an entertaining experience.

Well, I'm always melting down when being faced with A Secret - it's the slight psychedelic respectively ambient flow, embellished with intriguing vocals and very very effective guitar input. Furthermore the instrumental Janus comes with a nice groove and distinct neo prog/symphonic touch. ... And Dream Of Sleep heralds into an acoustic set which also includes the title track ... for the initial minutes at least. The song structure is made of alternating sections though, either offering a solemn atmosphere based on (semi-?)acoustic guitar, piano and cello, but also repeatedly evolving into a heavy rocking issue, decorated with a bunch of sawing riffs. Grandezza!

The Weight is the next to mention, a wonderful ballad which eventually comes out of hiding right in the middle. The extended epic Frozen Moment finally marks the centerpiece, culminating into something outraged, even explosive towards the end. 'One Eye On The Sunrise' is another album which you can't handle casually, just as a footnote, which needs full concentration to unfold. I recommend to take the time to enter Adrian's realm, especially if you like emotive prog music - you won't regret, promised.

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#878391)
Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'One Eye On The Sunrise' is contemporary progressive rock that will probably appeal to fans of bands such as Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Pink Floyd, Marillion and King Crimson.

Nine Stones Close was originally a solo project brought to life by guitarist Adrian Jones. His first release under the NSC name, 'St. Lo' deservedly won critical acclaim and enabled Adrian to recruit some notable musicians to collaborate on further releases. 'One Eye On The Sunrise' completes the transformation of NSC into a fully fledged band and Adrian is joined by : Marc Atkinson (vocals) and Brendan Eyre (keyboards) both of Riversea, Peter Vink (Ayreon) on bass and Pieter Van Hoorn (Knight Area) on drums. Whilst Marc and Brendan had also been present for the second NSC album (the excellent 'Traces') 'One Eye' is the first NSC album to really sound like a genuine band effort.

NSC have come a long way in three albums. Whilst I loved parts of 'St. Lo', it wasn't structured enough for me and is now hardly recognisable as the embryo that NSC developed from. 'Traces' was itself a huge step forward, but 'One Eye' is revelatory and really sees NSC come of age. Whilst the themes and flavours build on those used in 'Traces', there is a greater maturity to the composition and musicianship.

The album opens with a brief Floyd-esque instrumental 'Faceless Angel' that sets the atmosphere of the music on offer. 'A Secret', follows. This is a sparse, minimalist prog-rock anthem. Marc Atkinson's emotive vocals accompany stepping stone guitar chords that are awash with melancholy. Although there is nothing commercial about the song, it quickly entwines you in its hypnotic spell. "I told you a secret, Wrap it up and keep it, Then swallow it whole"...

'Janus' follows, a majestic and powerful instrumental that contrasts with the minimalist flavours of 'A Secret'. Wailing guitars are underpinned by a driving and pulsating bass line before yielding to ornate piano lines. Again, the melodies on offer are savagely addictive.

Adrian then treats us to some beautiful acoustic guitar riffs that luxuriate with the reverberation of open strings and harmonics and eventually lead us into the title track. Despite the beauty of the melody on offer here, there is a brooding underlying, menacing atmosphere that is further developed with the use of unsettling cello lines, before angst-ridden heavy metal guitars aggressively release the tension. The awesome cover art of the album (courtesy of Antonio Seijas) perfectly depicts the musical flavours on offer here, especially in the way it portrays both lightness and darkness and mystery.

'The Weight' is another epic track that builds on flavours that were introduced on the 'Traces' album, whilst 'The Distance' offers a pastoral, ethereal flavour that is again adorned with Adrian's acoustic guitar lines. 'A Frozen Moment' has an almost apocalyptic feel at times and combines musical mayhem with strong melodic passages and varying atmospheres as it clocks in at more than thirteen minutes, the longest track on the album.

I was totally blown away when I first listened to this album, it's been a haunting, emotional and atmospheric experience......it's essential listening for all fans of progressive and classic rock and to my ears at least is pretty much (Nine Stones) Close to perfection....

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Send comments to Distant Planet (BETA) | Report this review (#879363)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nine Stones Close AKA Adrian Jones just gets better and better. Traces was perfect in my opinion. When this album started to surface, I heard a few samples and thought it would be Traces 2. It isn't! In the last year, they seem to have got the attention of Arjen Lucassen and even grabbed Star One's bass player Peter Vink. I saw that guy with Star one live in 2002, so I know how good HE is! Read Bruford Freak,s rundown on the tracks. I can agree with most of it. Especially the part that 9SC turns in to led Zeppelin in the title track. I never expected that! Porcupine Tree also became Zep a few years ago and why not!!! I occasionally hear the sound of Porcupine tree in the album too. This album is very moving and soulful but shifts gear just at the right times. Frozen Moment has to be a highlight and it gets even better with each listen. Faceless Angel is a favourite of mine also. I love instrumentals and Pink Floyd. This track has that quality and feel. In the end this is Ninestonesclose and not a tribute to some other band. The occasional references are only a clue as to where Adrian's influences may come from. These are great musicians and I hope that rumours of a live tour in 2013 will become a reality. Even releasing an album is difficult enough but touring? That's when it really gets tough! I have heard talk of album of 2012 for this in more than one place and if that happens, it is well deserved. This is an album that will stand the test of time.

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Send comments to odinalcatraz (BETA) | Report this review (#879459)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'One Eye on the Sunrise' - Nine Stones Close (7/10)

Although there was never point where I found myself outright disliking it, I found myself less enthusiastic about Nine Stones Close's first album "Traces" (second if you count the Adrian Jones solo work "St. Lo"), and couldn't really get into what the band was doing. Although the soft, melancholic approach was pleasant to the ears, I felt the band's songwriting tended to stay mellow to the point of ennui. I found myself wanting more than the purely introspective, Floydy sound Nine Stones Close hoisted their flag under. Barring a dynamic range that wasn't meshing with personal taste however, Nine Stones Close demonstrated some great promise as a full band; a potential further realized with "One Eye on the Sunrise". Although the melancholia and brooding staples of the band's sound remain, Adrian Jones and company have widened their range and scope of their ambition. "One Eye on the Sunrise" doesn't completely solve the existing style issues I've had with the band since I first heard them, but I can at least call myself a fan of what they're doing.

As was the case on "Traces", many reviewers have cited emotional resonance and atmosphere as the "One Eye on the Sunrise"s selling point. Indeed, Nine Stones Close's big focus on sentiment and feeling in their music diverges them from most of the bands nowadays that fall underneath the progressive rock umbrella. Adrian Jones' melodic, soulful guitar work recalls the Floyd legend himself, David Gilmour. Returning keyboardist Brenden Eyre and bassist Peter Vink's sonic contribution are more reserved, offering a welcoming ambient backdrop for Jones' guitar work, with a keen insight on translating the atmosphere to fit both the sentimental and rock-oriented moments. Although there are several passages that point the spotlight on Jones' guitars, it's often vocalist Marc Atkinson that keeps the listeners attention. Although his voice was pleasant on "Traces", his performance here is much improved, sporting a wider range, even shedding the melancholia entirely for the occasional rocking chorus. Although his improved diversity is what sets him a step above his past self, his strongest talent remains the emotional warmth that he brings on the album's most tender moments. The soaring hook of the laid- back "A Secret" showcases an intense vibrato that gets under my skin.

Nine Stones Close may still keep most of their stones in the school of mellow sentimentality, but unlike "Traces", I get the sense here that they know when to rock. The title track is a perfect example of this, featuring some crisp riffs that I might even hear on a classic Rush album. The addition of Pieter van Hoorn for drum duties is a strong move towards a more intense style, a drummer I've appreciated exactly for his energetic, precise approach since hearing his performance with Knight Area. The range brings a much- needed jolt of caffeine to the band's sound, although there's been nothing lost from their originally 'tender' take on prog. Nine Stones Close writes music for rainy, introspective nights, and while "One Eye on the Sunrise" still isn't an album I can recommend for everyone, they've come a long ways.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#881047)
Posted Sunday, December 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nine Stones Close third album is another huge leap forward after St Lo and the follow up Traces.First of all the main thing that has improved is the production,but most of all the use of a REAL drummer and what a fine drummer Pieter Van Hoorn (Knight Area)proves to be.The aquisition of Peter Vink of Dutch prog legends FInch,also is an inspired choice as is the core crew of Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre on vocals and keyboards respectively. The album opens with a huge slice of symphonic prog instrumental,Faceless Angel,which lays the foundations of what is to come.A Secret is next with a gorgeous Atkinson vocal setting up for a grand finale of synth and another fine Jones solo.Another instrumental follows in the way of Janus which is my personal favourite on the album,a mellotron chord sequence interspersed by wailing guitar and a metronomic drum beat,melting into gentle piano riff and vintage string synth, and then opening like a spring flower with splashes of classical guitar and choral vocals...stunning. And Dream of Sleep is yet another fine acoustic instrumental with a touch of piano and a bit of strings which is the appetiser for the epic title track of the album,One Eye On The Sunrise is a mishmash of styles ranging from acoustic,almost folk like with gorgeous cello and piano and what is Marc Atkinsons finest vocal on the album where he moves from gentle plaintive to screaming painlike in anguish..superb.The riff is Led Zep like in style as the song takes off and the rythmn section of Vink and Hoorn truly shine.EOS is next, which is a Floydian track and a repeat riff from the opening Faceless Angel with some great dreamy keyboard work from Eyre,The Weight is the most Traces like song on the album,another great Atkinson vocal and melody but the track is rather let down by the strange opening gambit that sounds out of place with rest of the track, with the soloing rather loose and out of tune in parts and spoils for me what is another very strong piece.The Distance is a beautiful atmospheric ballad that shows off again Atkinsons vocals and also Eyres beautiful piano and string parts..its also light relief as its doesnt have an extended heavy section or soloing which is sometimes overdone rather than keeping it simple.Frozen Moment is,quite simply the best slice of heavy prog you will hear anywhere,the whole band really let rip with fine riffs and thunderous drums and bass from Vink and Hoorn,interspersed with great soloing from Jones,Matt Stevens and Eyre,also a mention for the slight but effecting backing refrains from Stolen Earths Heidi Widdop...a truly great moment. Sunset is a beautiful Eyre piano piece with some mornful cello combining for what is the perfect end to a great great album. I look forward to what Nine Stones Close come up with next,but this will take some beating.

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Send comments to wiseOwl (BETA) | Report this review (#886904)
Posted Thursday, January 03, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Nine Stones Close churn out another set of highly emotive and passionate songs on One Eye On the Sunrise. Those who prize intricate songwriting or novel tangents in their prog probably are best moving on here, but on the other hands if you like broody-moody vocals delivered in a fairly accessible style (courtesy here of Marc Atkinson) to a lightly proggy backing with a mild focus on guitar (Adrian Jones) then it might float your boat. I wasn't too taken with the preceding Traces and I'm not bowled over by this - as far as introspective, moody prog in this general vein goes I found Edison's Children's debut album (In the Last Waking Moments) to be markedly superior - but they're drifting in the right direction as far as I'm concerned.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#894895)
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars NINE STONES CLOSE continue with the same style as was heard on their previous album "Traces". This is melancholic and atmospheric with those Mark Hollis-like vocals that sing about loss and hope. It's interesting that we get KNIGHT AREA's drummer on board for this one.

"Faceless Angel" is a short opening track with samples and piano leading the way early then it builds to a majestic sound. "A Secret" is mellow with those reserved vocals joining in. It does build on the chorus each time. I like the deep atmosphere after 2 1/2 minutes and the emotional guitar solo that follows. "Janus" opens with electronics and atmosphere then the guitar and drums start to take over. It settles back with piano only after 2 1/2 minutes then the guitar and drums return on this instrumental. "...And Dream Of Sleep" is less than 2 minutes of relaxed music including plenty of acoustic guitar. "One Eye On The Sunrise" opens with intricate guitar melodies as the vocals join in. Strings and piano help out as well. It kicks in just before 3 minutes to a surprisingly heavy soundscape with passionate vocals. Contrasts continue.

"Eos" is a short track with vocals. Once again it's melancholic and mellow. "The Weight" is atmospheric until about 2 minutes in when it picks up some with vocals. Contrasts continue. "The Distance" sounds good with that intricate opening guitar. Vocals join in then the guitar is strummed. The intricate guitar is back as these contrasts continue. I like the piano after 3 minutes. "Frozen Moment" opens with aggressive guitar as the sound builds. This is surprising. By the way this is the longest track at over 13 1/2 minutes. It settles back with vocals before a minute. Nice drum work after 8 1/2 minutes as it picks up again. Best song on the album in my opinion. "Sunset" is the short 1 1/2 minute closer. Piano and violin lead the way.

Unlike most I prefer "Traces" to this one. This just hasn't clicked with me and in fact has done the opposite over time. Good record though.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#903812)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Reassuringly often in these days of what seems to be a resurgence of great progressive rock an album is brought out that completely obsesses me for several months. I bought One Eye on the Sunrise months ago, knowing it was going to be something special. It grabbed me from the very first playing and i listened to it many, many times over the ensuing weeks.

What is more unusual is an album that grabs you in this way and maintains its hold on you, still seeming fresh and never sounding too tired or familiar. The addition of a real drummer this time around has made a tangible difference to the sound that Adrian Jones and his talented crew make. I'm not going to do a laborious track by track critique here, there are others more proficient than I at doing that.

To me the most important thing is that this music just works on so many levels, whether the exquisite vocals from Marc Atkinson, the inventive soundscapes provided by keys man Brendan Eyre, the soaring guitar playing of Adrian Jones himself, or the driving rhythms and supporting percussion offered by Pieter Van Hoorn, for me this album ticks all the boxes, even to the extent of giving my much desired, but rarely achieved, full on emotional reaction, tears, goosebumps etc. The addition of Cellist Katy Bell on 2 of the tracks demonstrates a new maturity of composition that greatly adds to the overall sound pallette. New bass man Peter Vink and the wonderful Matt Stevens also contribute well.

I know that, despite the departure of Marc Atkinson, that Adrian is already hard at work on the next album and I, for one, am already watering at the mouth in anticipation.

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Send comments to cyberfloat (BETA) | Report this review (#934796)
Posted Sunday, March 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars My problem here is with title track. The foregoing seems to be a good prelude to the same. In turn, it is the most progressive part of the album, along with Frozen Moment, by sudden changes and search for originality in it. It begins with a delicate acoustic intro in line with the previous piece, then enter an alternative rock course, to return in the seventh minute on a passive ground, in last two minutes becomes anarchy.

Frozen Moment is more balanced, but also unnecessary repetitions, spare 3 or 4 minutes.

Highlights for me are Janus, Sunset (instrumentals), Eos, A Secret, The Weight,

Between 3 and 3.5 stars....

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Send comments to sinslice (BETA) | Report this review (#1088985)
Posted Thursday, December 12, 2013 | Review Permalink

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