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Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Very interesting band from England. They play a mixture of prog (mostly) rock with jazz and classical overtones. Sometimes they reminded of Curved Air because the constant violin interplay. The songs vary a lot, the music is pleasant and the record never gets boring. My only complaint is the fact that New Life is too short (barely 40 minutes). But if you like melodic prog with some jazz rock overtones (a la Jean Luc Ponty) with lots fo 70's sounds (but a better production), you'll probably like this one very much. All songs are good, but I should point out the beautiful instrumental piece The Ocean. 3 and a half stars, really.
Report this review (#79829)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well. I liked Solstice first album. Maybe to related to Yes but a good album.

Them many years later return with this one.

Te good thing is that is quite original in the way .they acquire an own image..but...

This seem to be the project of the main guitarist and other musicians in a very second place.

Maybe we can remark the original participation of the violin but...

This is like a Steve Vai album with some very secondary other musicians.

I don,t like guitar sound here ...too commercial ,too massive .........and melodies not very original...all of them in a very similar vein.

So its a pity but this is not really a neo prog album is a guitar pop rock fusion album.

Only two stars in my opinion

Report this review (#275703)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars "You are the music, we're just the band"

Solstice is not a very prolific band as they have recorded only four studio albums throughout their 30 year existence (including the most recent one being released this year). Formed in 1980, this British band is basically a one-man project with the only constant member being guitarist and composer Andy Glass. This does not mean that this is a one-man show, however. The people Glass has around him here are as competent as he is and the sound is that of a full band rather than a guitarists' solo album. Apart from electric guitars, violin, bass, drums and female lead vocals are omnipresent. There are also some keyboards, but they are never to the forefront of the sound.

New Life from 1993 is the second Solstice album coming almost ten years after their debut from 1984. You might see this as a result of putting priority on quality over quantity, or you could see the band as a victim of the unfavourable climate for progressive music in the 80's and 90's. Whichever way you see it you cannot accuse Solstice of compromising their musical vision for popularity, as neither the present album nor the debut sound anything like products of their time. Rather, they have opted for a rather 'timeless' sound that clearly draws on the classic Prog-era without coming across as 'retro'. Like with the debut, bands that come to mind while listening to New Life are Renaissance (primarily from the latter half of the 70's), Yes (in their more 'relaxed' and less complex moments) and perhaps Kansas (in their less hard-edged moments). The Mike Oldfield similarities that were evident on the debut, on the other hand, seem to be somewhat relaxed here in favour of a more Dixie Dregs-like approach on some passages. In some respects this second album by Solstice is even better than the first one; it has a slightly more powerful guitar and drum sound and the voice of new lead vocalist Heidi Kemp is not as distractingly similar to that of Jon Anderson compared to Sandy Leigh who sang on the debut. But overall, I find this album slightly less enjoyable and less memorable than Silent Dance. But New Life is still a very enjoyable album that I'm sure will please anyone who liked the debut.

Other things that strike me while comparing the two albums is that the sound of New Life is less diverse; it has less acoustic guitars, less keyboards and less 'exotic' elements. Also, the bass guitar is a bit less powerful here. The songs on New Life are not incredibly complex, and while this is hardly easy-listening it might perhaps appear as such if you just came from listening to Yes' Relayer album or some intense and complex Jazz-Rock/Fusion. If you like Silent Dance, New Life is recommended for sure - a good companion to that first Solstice album.

Report this review (#278547)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Solstice was mentioned by Jerry Lucky in one of his progressive rock guides as a significant neo progressive band to set an example for many bands to follow. So high time to explore at least one of the studio albums by the band. And I don't think I picked a poor or even mediocre one with this "New Life" output from 1993.

Solstice trademarks are screaming guitars and (almost folky) violins accompanied by several female singers through the years. On this album it's Heidi Kemp featured as an important factor in the band's sound. If I tell you this info is completed with the style highly melodic music I think I just about covered the whole story of Solstice, at least with this New Life release.

It leaves us with my personal feelings about the album and those are very positive. I can't understand why this second release by the band is so underexplored and so low rated. It could be in the end I'm the only fan of this album. If so, so be it and it's actually a pity. Because it would mean highly melodic neo prog is not very popular. And that's regrettable really. Maybe I can bring the band some comfort by giving a well deserved four stars. Recommended !

Report this review (#560786)
Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1985 Solstice unfortunately broke up with their mastermind Andy Glass working for several years as a session musician for Bill Withers and Geno Washington and as a sound engineer on Jethro Tull tours.However a second reincarnation of Solstice appeared in early-90's only with Glass and violin/keyboard player Marc Elton from the 80's line-ups.They were joined by female singer Heidi Kemp, bassist Craig Sunderland and drummer Pete Hensley and this five-piece recorded the second album with the iconic title ''New Life'' in 1993.

Despite the almost 10 years hiatus Solstice sound a lot like on the band's early years, albeit with a more modern sound.This is smooth, often melancholic but highly melodic and balanced Progressive Rock with dreamy female vocals and strong references to British Folk through Elton's ethereal violin parts.Cross references with bands like MOSTLY AUTUMN, KARNATAKA or MAGENTA and artists like MIKE OLDFIELD or COLIN MASSON are more than obvious.Elton's violin work is mostly fascinating and alternates between folksy passages and Classical-influenced workouts, superbly supported by Glass' spacey guitar solos, somewhere in the middle of 90's-styled ANDY LATIMER and DAVID GILMOUR.New vocalist Heidi Kamp has such a crystal color in her voice, turning it from calm singing to dramatic expressions ans is more than welcome.For once more the keyboards remain in the background, supporting the whole atmosphere.The compositions have an ultra-strong sense of melody throughout with good vocal parts, maintaining their artistic value always at a high level and scanning a lot of territories like Melodic Progressive Rock, Folk Rock, New Age and Symphonic Rock.

This is a very strong comeback for Solstice with the Glass/Elton duo keeping their inspiration throughout the lost decade and returning with a fresh and highly enjoyable release.An interesting edition by FM Music appeared in 2007, including a second disc with various demo and bootleg recordings of the band from the 80's and it is of course more than recommended.If you are a fan of the aforementioned acts, Solstice's ''New life'' is impossible to leave you unsatisfied...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#631206)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars After their original 1980s incarnation broke up in 1985 (with a brief reunion in 1986), Solstice hibernated and re- emerged in the 1990s with this album. Returning from the 1980s version of the band are Marc Elton on violin and keyboards and, naturally, guitarist and band leader Andy Glass; Heidi Kemp very capably steps into the vocalist spot and the new rhythm section of Craig Sunderland and Pete Hemsley round out the revived group.

The biggest breath of fresh air, however, has to be the production. Silent Dance, the sole studio album from the 1980s version of the group, had always been hampered somewhat by a production job which didn't feel like a good fit for the band's music. The production here, whilst perhaps being at times more reminiscent of a New Age ambient album than a prog release, offers greater clarity to the overall benefit of the album. Elton's keyboards and Glass's guitar work, in particular, end up the star players here; Marillion's Steve Rothery has gone on the record as appreciating Andy Glass's style but feeling that Silent Dance didn't really capture him at his best, and here you can get a better appreciation of just what Steve saw in Andy's work.

The compositions here don't quite feel as powerful as those on Silent Dance, but the improved sonic clarity compensates for this nicely, and I'd say that this album is worth a listen for anyone who wants to dig a little deeper into Solstice's peace sign-waving, good-natured spiritual neo-prog.

Report this review (#2314392)
Posted Monday, February 10, 2020 | Review Permalink

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