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UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE MOON

Janus

Crossover Prog


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5 stars The Anti- Alice In Wonderland

Janus' music oftentimes has pre-occupied itself with dark ruminations featuring audacious fusions and musical combinations rarely heard by popular audiences ever since it's not-so-humble beginnings in 1971. Latin plainsong and primordial aboriginal rhythms bolted together with wailing Gibsons, ballads with sweet, soft female voicings, hard rock as well as the utterly absurd are among the idiosyncracies that have characterized this brainchild that has never seen any boundaries.

This latest Janus creature, "Under The Shadow Of The Moon ", has it's origins back in the early seventies when prog ruled FM radio waves. When bands would write unmitigated miniature free-form symphonies based on one cerebral idea in unorthodox jazz time signatures spewing out barrages of mind-numbing philisophical lyrical elucidations and, heaven forbid, cultivated learned musical facukty and versatility much to the delight of audiences who wanted to think a little bit. Meanwhile the bands unwittingly threw themselves to the mercy of unimmaginative critics who ate their work alive with horrific reviews as if they had committed appaling and unforgivable atrocities against rock 'n' roll music and everything it stood for..

''Under the Shadow Of The Moon " manages to commit just about all those artistic crimes associated with this classic era of progressive rock whithin it's 21 minute running time and what is so interesting about this modern throwback to that ghastly era is that it doesn't sound anything like the modern bands who are adopting and embracing early progrock pardigms. Rather than a relic that was miraculously unearthed in a record company vault and remastered ( think "Mahavishnu Orchestra The Lost Trident Sessions" ) it is more like a lost Mozart concerto that has never been played. Difference here is that the piece was actually composed and rehearsed back in 1973 but never made it onto the record cutting press for some dubious reasons ( think sex, drugs & rock 'n' roll ). Janus mastermind and perpetual architect Colin Orr toyed around with resurrecting Janus as a progrock endeavour back in the late '80s but quickly abandoned it realizing how dated and burnt out progrock musical methodology sounded. Alas, it had run it's course. One track, "How Many Times", is nonetheless re-worked here that dates from those experiments. It has an AOR sound to it with a cool guitar lick towards the end that seems to be sadly wasted here ( sorry to say this ). The Janus entity then went on to record 7 albums in various guises and now over 40 years after it's genesis the title epic '' Under The Shadow Of The Moon " creeps from the womb of time. Unable to escape until....

It was retrieved from Orr's memory by unknown forces. In 2013 " Under The Shadow Of The Moon " turns out to be dark & "Cimmerian", embodying all kinds of 70s progrock hallmarks. Although it is presented as a suite, Orr chooses not to name the individual sections as if to leave it up to the listener. A neo-psychedelic passage forms the main theme but develops into a sureal maelstrom of dreamy Floydian orchestral sections with nylon string guitars, spectral female vocals and nonsensical carnival-like interludes that are reflective of the underlying theme of the protaganist being on the verge of psychosis. Whether the inclusion of transmissions of Neil Armstrong to mission control stepping out into the unknown a represent some sort of consolation or at least a resolution to all the madness that occurs during this eccentric piece of music, one does not knowfor sure. I got a weird feeling after being confronted by the work and after first listen and said to myself, "what the freak was that?" Certainly a great track to listen to blasting on the headphones staring at Edvard Munch's " The Scream ".

At First, I wondered why the shorter, more recently composed tracks were positioned after the first tripped out extended conflagration. They all follow mournful themes that continue to use "darkness" as a unifying metaphorical device.

Dark Dark is sort of an addendum to the main piece. It has a sepulchral ambience achieved by reversed reverberation combined with a spooky bluesy hollow body guitar outro. One of the most beautiful rock ballads I've heard comes in the form of the painful mostly acoustic lament " Maybe I Was The Fool " with lush female counter harmonies and string arrangements. Actually it's something that could have been penned by Fish ( the ex-Marrilion Fish ) and reminds me a bit of " Kaliegh ". Two other tracks, '' I'm Not Made of Plastic " and " Promised Land " are more representative of Janus' ecclectisisms of the 90s, the latter being a metallisque, angry freakout against government greed again using some cool studio effects and showcasing Orr's electric guitar. By far the heaviest excursion on the album. Saving America is a short forlorn "cri de coeur", an unanswered prayer if you like accompanied by piano and voice that addresses the plight of the United States and its role in this crazy spiral-bound planet It is followed by an upbeat bluesy ballad called " Feeling ", the happiest expression that will be experienced here. "If I'd Listened", a re-worked ballad that had appeared on the 1991 Janus album " Journey " concludes the work which in a sense could even be considered a concept album of sorts.

Even though this is Janus at +40 ( and counting ) the music still sounds remarkably fresh and youthful. Colin Orr, along with his technical studio prowess and multi-instrumental skills ( he plays most instruments and did all the production ) with help from his talented daughters and session man Dean Houston on sax and others, seems more like a stoned hippie / madman stuck in a 70s time-warp than a 21st century Derbyshire sheep farmer here. Orr has created something unique here that is not unlike waking the dead.

So, is this the Janus album that never was from 1973? Well, yes and no. Best summation would be : Contemporary progrock with enough nuances, anachronisms and adventurous excitement of the prodigious early seventies to annoy any frustrated 21st century Rolling Stone columnist.

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Send comments to Vibrationbaby (BETA) | Report this review (#942785)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just listened to UTSOTM - what an amazing album..... The title track is a 21 minute masterpiece which on first hearing sounds confusing and erratic - but after 3 or 4 times it starts to make sense and flows beautifully with very dark undertones throughout! Some of the other tracks are worthy of radio promotion - especially track 7 - "Maybe I was the fool" is amazing!!!! Well worth a listen - and then another - and another - and by now you will also agree that this is an album that may be long delayed - but well worth the wait!!!!

Keith Parry OBE

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Send comments to keithp (BETA) | Report this review (#942796)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Wow! Colin Orr of Janus has crafted an incredible addition to the band's legacy with Under the Shadow of the Moon. The epic title track was apparently first conceived in 1973 in the wake of the release of Gravedigger, but it's clear that it has undergone substantial work since then, since the production standards on the album are very modern and Orr shows no hesitation in working much more recent textures, instrumentation, and techniques into the album. The end result is a progressive rock album which at one moment could have emerged from the genre's golden age and within a second can switch on you to show a very different and very modern sound.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#974606)
Posted Sunday, June 09, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars More 2013 releases and now it's time for Janus "Under the Shadow of the Moon". Janus is an English rock band formed in Germany 1970 and they did one high rated record before they disbanded. From 1990 and forward they have done eight records which not seems to have got so much attention. "Under the shadow of the Moon" is Janus' tenth studio record. I look at the picture and it seems to be showing a night scene where a circus is resting. The band consists of Colin Orr(vocals, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards), Rikki Hanson-Orr(vocals, clarinet, keyboards), Thea Hanson-Orr(saxophone), Dean Houston(saxophone), Ben Stafford(keyboards), Rachel Luxon-Robinson and Pam Hodkinson(backing vocals). It's seems it's primarly the first man which is "the band" and the others are guests.

This record gave me some interesting and pleasant times. I hadn't complained if the record just had been the first track "Under the Shadow of the Moon". That is almost "an epic" and is without competition the best song. That track also made me disappointed of the rest. Here you have wonderful melodic prog rock with great guitar and a very competent vocalist in Rikki Hanson-Orr. Different styles is blended here and the track is like a journey. Both soft and hard moments touches you here(8/10). Then comes "Dark dark", a bland and dark, dark track(5/10) and then "How many times" with a nice rock sound and great guitar(6/10). "Promised land" is the album's second best track(8/10) with a beautiful darkness and something Asian is the melody and the track "Save America" is stripped but not so interesting(6/10). "Feeling" then (6/10) and "Maybe I was the fool"(6/10) are okey soft rock songs. "I'm not made of plastic" turns better(7/10) with some passages I really like and "If I'd listened"(6/10) also is quite nice but not so much "to hang in the christmas tree"(Swedish expression).

Over all Janus' "Under the shadow of the moon" was a disappointment, mostly because the first track was so good. Listen to the title track and perhaps number four and skip the rest. Over all the album was Ok but nothing more.

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#1052247)
Posted Thursday, October 03, 2013 | Review Permalink

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