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Cosmograf - Capacitor CD (album) cover

CAPACITOR

Cosmograf

Neo-Prog


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Second Life Syndrome
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Last year, I was blown away by an album that seemed to come out of nowhere. Cosmograf's "The Man Left in Space" captured my imagination with not only its sharp riffs and piercing keys, but also its undressed humanity and its emotional climax. Now, only a year later, Robin Armstrong has again brought his one-man project to my ears. Of course, it's not so much a one-man project anymore, as he's brought many guests once again to help make his music diverse and stunningly performed. Guests include Matt Stevens (whom also released an amazing solo album this year), Andy Tillison, Nick Beggs, Nick D'Virgilio, and others. As you can see, this new album from Cosomograf is almost a "who's who" of modern progressive rock!

"Capacitor" is a very different album from its predecessors, but is somehow instantly familiar, too. Armstrong's signature guitar sound is woven throughout the album once again, ranging from strong riffing to solos and acoustic sections. His guitar is impeccable. Though not as striking as before, the keys on this album also create a wonderfully fluid environment for the rest of the music to mature. The occasional keyboard solos are worth the price of admission themselves. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The musicianship on this album is basically as good as it could ever be. With the heavyweights adding their parts, the instruments are tight, unified, and mind blowing at times. Everything from the bouncing bass lines to the organic, precise drumming is pure perfection.

This album has an interesting concept that somewhat directs the style of music. The concept is the storage of the human spirit, and how we leave an imprint behind both spiritually and technologically. Therefore, the album is again full of voice-overs that seem to allude to Tesla and Edison and the like. The time when science almost seemed like magic is a strong influence on this album. It's a good theme, though I don't enjoy it as much as the desperation of "The Man Left in Space". The latter directed the music in a spacier, more sci- fi sound, but the theme of "Capacitor" lends more to a more colorful, rockier atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with this, and I think that the music proves that. However, I just prefer the more atmospheric approach.

"Capacitor" has some very strong songs, though they do blend together a bit. They certainly have less individual personality. However, they are excellent nonetheless. If there is a continuing theme through the music of Cosmograf, it would certainly be darkness. I find it throughout this new album. The album begins with a voice-over heavy track of grounded technological wonder, but soon dives headfirst into the darkness of which I spoke. "The Fear Created" is a great song with dark guitar-drive movements and feelings that leave quite an impression. My favorite song on the album, however, is the sublime "White Car". This track is saturated with emotion and is so incredibly clear on its lyrical content that it will bring tears to your eyes. The music is moody, careful, and elegant, but the emotional impact is raw and bold.

The second half of "Capacitor" is probably the better half, as I feel that the third and fourth tracks somewhat lose their way and their charm. After "White Car", however, the album doesn't lose steam, as the last two tracks cover much ground, ranging from heavy rock to the especially moody heartache of "Stuck in the Wood", a song so full of guests and inspiration that it almost bursts out of my headphones to grasp my eardrums.

Much of this album does feel alive, almost like the spirits are stored within its very files. It does have a supernatural, yet somehow mechanistic, feel: somehow both strikingly cold and real and also electric and brilliantly metaphysical at the same time. "Capacitor", then, is a rock solid follow-up to an album that I consider a masterpiece, and it is with great respect that I salute Robin Armstrong for his undying ability to be creative and compose music from his heart.

Report this review (#1184797)
Posted Wednesday, June 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sometimes, when listening to a new album, your first impression, from the heart not the head, sticks. Even after repeated listens, this a prime facie impression of Capacitor is "they nailed it!". Although Cosmograf aren't "they" (it's a one-man-band augmented by more than a little help from his friends), it's the the whole of all the contributors that exceeds the sum of their parts, so to speak, Damned, did they nail it! It's dark, it's addictive, it's hard prog rock with an edge. Floydian for sure, but then again with Porcupinian (mmmm... he's with his head in The Trees) and Radioheadish flavors that together serve a tasty dish of haute cuisine prog. My favorite track(s) is The Drover / White Car binary so(u)l system. Although not exemplary for the albums as such, and I don't know why, it just resonates at a cosmographic level. As a concept album, capturing the soul in an electro-magnetic contraption, it fully succeeds in terms of coherence and continuation. With really astounding musicianship! This album deserves a solid 4 star rating without a shadow of a doubt, but it certainly has the retrospective capacity to evolve into a 5 star shining victory. Time will tell whether essence or essentiality will free this soul album from it's electrifying shackles. I'm still captured, one way or the other.
Report this review (#1196003)
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Once again Cosmograf has come up with a gorgeous sounding concept album--with a very intriguing topic and some very cool incidental samples used to help string the songs together. However, I find, as I have on previous Cosmograf albums, that there is just something lacking to really draw the listener back for more. Once the story's been heard, the music is forgettable. The ambience of the incredibly well-engineered music is dreamy--great for background music, but Robin Armstong has brought very little new or exciting to the prog table. Instead, he's served up a meal of sumptuous flavor but nothing we haven't had before.

Favorite songs: the album's opener, "The Spirit Capture" (7:37) for its excellent set up of the album's story (8/10); the most memorable and varied song of the album with its beautiful melodies and simple instrumental support, "The Drover" (6:37) (10/10), and the guest party jam; "Stuck in the Wood" (6:27) (8/10).

3.5 stars rated up cuz this is, IMO, Cosmograf's best, so far.

Report this review (#1271914)
Posted Sunday, September 7, 2014 | Review Permalink

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