Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Tony Patterson - Northlands (as Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre) CD (album) cover


Tony Patterson

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Patterson/Eyre may just be that hidden gem that may go entirely unnoticed and cause a great degree of consternation, as the debut 'Northlands' may well just be the sleeper prog album of 2014. Fans of neo-prog, symphonic, crossover, folk and even psychedelic will take a huge liking to this super smooth masterpiece. Everything about this album is sheer perfection, from the brilliant sound, the lovely artwork and booklet, the crisp production, the stellar guests (including the prolific Steve Hackett, his brother John, Adrian Jones (Nine Stones Close), Tim Esau (IQ) and Nick Magnus, among many others) and a first class vocalist in Tony Patterson (ReGenesis), a magnificent voice that wanders into visual delights, expressive and honest, causing many shakes of the head in amazement throughout this jewel, as well as the tremendously gifted keyboardist Brendan Eyre (Nine Stones Close and Riversea), whose predilection for the piano only heightens his impact and pedigree. There are numerous influences that run the gamut, from hints of jazzier material like Sting, China Crisis, Spandau Ballet to more symphonic elements like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Anthony Phillips, Camel and Penguin Caf' Orchestra.

To have the balls to kick off an album with a glorious 24 minute, 7 part epic shows the kind of quiet confidence exuded here, a masterful symphony of sounds that clearly span the entire prog spectrum, involving all the little intricacies that makes good music even better. The massive 'Northbound' suite is a symphonic breeze of the highest order, a lone earnest piano searching for its shadow, an awakening flute and a sublime melody initiate the sequence that will eventually invite dense orchestrations into a swirling thing of beauty. Highly cinematographic , as if a soundtrack from some obscure romantic flick, the neo-classical symphonics are clearly first rate, presenting a very British pastoral beauty as Tony takes over the microphone, and begins his 'coming home', a heady mixture of choir and vocal expression. The suite morphs into a more up-tempo groove, drums beating like a pulsating heart, with a cool Peter Gabriel feel, not surprising in lieu of Tony's work with ReGenesis. A brief dip into the carnival-like atmosphere of Brighton on the beach, sea gulls squeaking in the air, a lush flute and a glorious Genesisian vocal section and Ant Phillips-like acoustic guitars, one feels transported into the depths of nostalgia with enormous reverence. Brendan segues with a simple but mesmerizing piano motif, very pastoral and circumspect, infusing sparkling mandolin to add some sunshine. The sophisticated arrangement is never rushed, as if profoundly spiritual and searching to imbue the listener with images of a time gone by, a simpler, gentler world, far from the raging madness. The luminous finale seems to evoke a sense of hope, of rekindling old passions, a genuine return to roots, all expressed by a sterling guitar solo. Sheer perfection, a magnificent opus of the very highest order.

The restrained sound of oboe scours the horizon on the effusive 'Northlands Rhapsody', a brief orchestral moment that sets the luxuriant tone for the next series of tracks, a devoutly symphonic ditty that would fit nicely on any The Enid album. Utterly dazzling, again, for all its brevity. The quaint 'A Picture in Time' is a straight masterpiece again, featuring meandering female voices (Carrie Melbourne), shuffling drums and some shifting electronics that give it a lovely modern sheen. While extremely mellow and low-key, the distant orchestrations and permeating choir work recalls the fanatical wailing on Deep Purple's 'Sweet Child in Time', intense and deliberate. Music of this ilk is just plain spellbinding, as it flows on in atmospheric jubilation.

Brendan sits down on the piano, Tony next to him on the microphone and they are both watching 'And the River Flows', vivid and fragile as the oboe swerves into the picture, seductive to no end. Proof once more that the very simple can be very complex, when orchestrated accordingly, seemingly echoing along eternally. Change of pace? The urban cool of 'Rainy Day on Dean Street' has a China Crisis-like flow, with astonishing piano playing by both Patterson and guest Doug Melbourne, a brooding pace that may wink at the jazzier side of Sting's early solo career. Hints of Moulin Rouge, Mardi Gras and the Big Easy waffle along, hot and humid as the sexy flugelhorn blows just a little breeze. Groovy, aromatic and sensual, as guest Fred Arlington supplies sax and horn work of the very highest order. A defiant prog hit if there ever was one, appealing to any hip crowd, bluesy and smoky with an eyelash of decadence.

The hauntingly spectral 'Legacy' is another monumental instrumental delight, a fantastic musical universe where a silky smooth piano suggests only the deepest emotions, aided by a slithering flute from Mr. Hackett, some ethereal and voluptuous choir work, combined with the densest orchestrations. The chugging lilt reflects on the history of train travel, the atmospherics are impenetrable, the cloak of years gone by gloriously detailed and grandiose, another winner on an album of perfect victors. I recently watched the compelling British film 'The Railway Man', a momentous essay on forgiveness (gulp) and this would have fit in admirably.

'I Dare to Dream' continues that pensive sequence, this time infusing some soporific vocals that will soothe and inspire, adding a shifting beat and some glittering acoustic guitar in the mix. Gentle piano and a forlorn flugelhorn and then some trumpet will take us all to heaven and beyond. It has a Beatles 'like intelligence, a soft-rock promontory and an urban cool, mitigating sounds that coalesce with a romantic fervor, almost sexual, especially when that damned saxophone blows its top! No perspiration on this tuxedoed bad-boy hunk, he is a coooool man! A proggier Spandau Ballet comes to mind, in a very good sense.

The crushing beauty of a track like 'So Long the Day' is why I remain so thoroughly mesmerized by the progressive style, a mammoth melody, a mystical delivery bathing in lush arrangements and some overtly emotional vocals combine to let the listener close their eye and dream away. This sound is close to Riversea, Sound of Contact, Peter Gabriel or classic Steve Hackett, as the legend blisters forth on the electric guitar, forging a scorching solo so typical of his career, it will blow you simply sideways. One of the finest songs ever recorded.

A romantic piano etude leads the way to a just and glorious finale, a sense of serene accomplishment and pleasure obvious and comforting. 'A Sense of Place' is just perfect, gulls screeching goodbye.

This, proggers and progettes, is a bloody masterpiece, a highly personal set list of meaningful songs played to perfection. It felt like a devoted lover serenading me with emotional bliss.

5 arctic domains

Report this review (#1397391)
Posted Saturday, April 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Tony Patterson and Brendan Eyre were both born in North East England and both have a broad musical background. In 2012, they released an album Out Of An Aancient World, which was so well received it won them the Best Newcomer award at the 2012 Classic Rock Society Awards.

After this, they started thinking about a concept album describing their beloved North East England, which resulted in Northlands, an album that tells the tale of someone returning to the North East after so many years. The memories, good and bad, the beauty of the landscape and the unfinished business of the character are the drivers for the music. Without a story line to follow, and an album that is largely instrumental, it is hard to tell what the this character experiences exactly along the way. However, the music invites to sit back, relax and let your own version of the story unfold in your mind.

The opening track Northbound, with it's 24 minutes and subdivision into 7 separate pieces already is a story in itself. There are some lyrics here, that indicate this is about the trip north, probably entering the North East. The complete epic builds up from a piano piece, a flute, to a choir and then a full orchestra with strings and a horn (I think). The two vocal pieces, Take the Safe Way and I Recall make clear why Tony Patterson once sang in the Genesis tribute band ReGenesis, yet he does not attempt to be a copy of Peter Gabriel here. The vocal harmonies on I recall, accompanied by a haunting keyboard are beautiful. At the end, the piece returns to the intro - had this been the full album we'd be heading south again.

After this one long track, 8 shorter ones follow, some instrumental, some with vocals, and although the basis is always in the beautiful keyboard and piano work of Brendan Eyre, they are quite varied. A Picture in Time for example builds up from a dreamy keyboard piece with female vocals in the background to a fully orchestrated piece with these vocals rising in volume as a less psychedelic Great Gig in the Sky. After that it goes back to the more dreamy keyboard pattern, but with drums and (very well played) bass joining in. This contrasts with the short piano piece And the River Flows (with slightly Peter Gabriel like vocals again), which is followed by a jazzy piece with excellent piano work by Brendan Eyre, A Rainy Day on Dean Street - with some nice saxophone and horn work by Fred Arlington added.

The following Legacy I described in my notes as film music. It starts with a piano that seems to mimic a clock, while a guitar in the background makes the noises of a long train rolling by. This suddenly changes into a dreamy (again!) piano and flute piece, which then powers up by the addition of percussion. The percussion keeps the clock/train pattern alive underneath the other instruments, mainly the flute of John Hackett. The final part of this track is orchestrated to the extend that it would fit under a movie of a flight over the North East English landscape. A sound effect at the end brings back the image of a train disappearing on the horizon.

I Dare to Dream is a mellow piece, with relaxed vocals and an undertone of happiness. The backing vocals are a bit Pink Floyd like, and the piano is in the instrumental lead once again. This is almost a relaxed prelude to So Long the Day, in my opinion the best track of the album, featuring Steve Hackett (John's brother) on guitar. This track, features Peter Gabriel style vocals, with excursions to Pink Floyd (Roger Waters' era), excellent bass playing, Hackett's guitar work, but also a short piece of Spanish guitar, once again the piano and flute. All of this is used to divide the 6.5 minutes long song into short pieces, in Peter Gabriel era Genesis style, without making it a Genesis rip off. I love it, from the first piano note of the intro to the last note of the guitar solo that ends it.

To bring the listener, or at least me, back to his senses the album closes with a short, relaxed piano piece, A Sense of Place - the sound of seagulls at the end.

This album is not perfect, very few are, but it's definitely a well executed piece of music. Everything fits, and it allows for intent listening, if not requiring it. A bit more vocal guidance through the story would help get the concept clearer, but as I said - dreaming up your own story is a good possibility now. Also a few more excursions from the evenly tempo of the music than just A Rainy Day on Dean Street and So Long the Day would've made the album a bit more exiting, perhaps also rockier.

All in all, I had never heard of Tony Patterson and Brendan Eyre before I received this album in the mail and I'm glad I know them now. This is one to cherish and listen again every once in a while, on a quiet evening, with a nice glass of wine and your feet on the table.

Report this review (#1430766)
Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 | Review Permalink

TONY PATTERSON Northlands (as Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre) ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of TONY PATTERSON Northlands (as Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre)

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.