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Rhys Marsh - Rhys Marsh & the Autumn Ghost: The Blue Hour CD (album) cover


Rhys Marsh

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Rhys Marsh is an English singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist & producer who is now located in Norway. His 'multi-national orchestra', The Autumn Ghost, features members of Jaga Jazzist, Anekdoten, The National Bank, Wobbler, White Willow, Änglagård, Emmerhoff & The Melancholy Babies, Pelbo, In Lingua Mortua, The Irrepressibles & The Divine Comedy. Blue Hour is the third album by Rhys Marsh & The Autumn Ghost, and is set to be released September 11th, 2012. With this release, they have stepped into new territory ? strings and mellotrons are replaced by brass and woodwinds, as well as a new vocal style that has been simplified, using less thick harmonies but often combine male and female vocals singing in unison.

Now, I have to stop here and confess to my audience that I had a difficult time figuring out how to write about this album. I actually found it to be quite a unique musical experience (especially considering my "usual"), but despite this (maybe because of it) I found it difficult to come up with the words to describe it. After some serious writer's block, the following is what I've come up with: I hope it does this album justice. Blue Hour is an experience that I feel would best be enjoyed by turning the lights down dim, starting up your player, and lying down with your eyes closed to enjoy the whole thing. It is warm, ambient, melancholic, and very peaceful. Rhys' vocals, combined with the gentle orchestration, are very soothing and make the listener forget the stress and cares of the world outside. The compositions take their time building up and are carefully arranged, it seems. But this is not to say they are not dynamic ? there are tempo and rhythm changes throughout, as well as mood shifts. But the album as a whole has a very intimate, calming effect and is quite a beautiful experience. I would highly recommend this to Symphonic Prog fans, as well as anyone looking for an ambient experience.

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Report this review (#842914)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the third album by the English musician based in Trondheim, Norway. Trondheim is known among other things for its very active musical scene, especially the jazz one. So it's not a wonder that someone like Rhys Marsh has settled down there. What I am more curious about is to find out if its location played a major role in the feelings expressed by our man. Because delicate and thoughtful, melancholic atmospheres habit this new album, quite close to No-Man's climates; even the leader's voice somehow evokes Tim Bowness; semi orchestral arrangements with a predilection for *lesser often used* brass and wind instruments (bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon) are a true pleasure, associated to plaintive other (pedal steel, zither) and a lot more. You will even be able to hear the difference between the mellotron and its forerunner the Chamberlin. A great album with plenty of subtle touches and fragile, languish musical drops of meditative and nostalgic, laid back character!
Report this review (#847581)
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars It seems like Norway is one of the most creative locations for progressive music these days, and although Rhys Marsh was originally born in the UK, his Norwegian ensemble known as The Autumn Ghost is a unique force in the country's music scene. Showcasing a mellow and introverted style of art rock, the music heard on The Blue Hour may not sound terribly unique by description alone, but Rhys Marsh clearly directs this ensemble with an ambitious artistic vision. Although The Blue Hour isn't the most exciting release of 2012, it's an interesting little album with some truly interesting things going on.

The Blue Hour can be described as melancholic and intimate art rock with occasional leanings into jazz and post-rock territory. There are some bombastic tracks like "Wooden Heart", but generally things are kept on the more reflective side. What's likely to grab the attention of most listeners here are the unique arrangements - though 'normal' rock instruments like drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards are present, a large portion of the music is dominated by woodwind and brass instruments. From what I understand, this style of arrangement is a 'first' for Rhys Marsh, so it's even more surprising how well it works. The choice of instruments compliments the compositions perfectly, and while the songwriting doesn't excite me too much, I'll acknowledge that a lot of talent certainly went into the making of The Blue Hour.

The album does have a rather strange sounding production (the drums sound especially odd), but it doesn't detract from the overall listening experience. If anything, the raw and unpolished sound quality gives The Blue Hour more of a warm and intimate flavor. This is an album that is largely focused on creating lush atmospheres using unconventional instruments, and from that perspective, The Blue Hour is a tremendous success. Rhys Marsh and the Autumn Ghost has offered their fanbase a very solid listen for their third full-length observation, and I'll definitely recommend this to fans of original and forward-thinking art rock.

Report this review (#893397)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2013 | Review Permalink

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