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Third Quadrant - Layered CD (album) cover


Third Quadrant


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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The sleeve notes quote Kepler (1610): "Let us create vessels and sails adjusted to the heavenly ether and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty wastes." THIRD QUADRANT was a little-known band (Chris Dunn on synthesizer/vocals, Simeon Manners on guitars, and Chris Hare on drums), with help on this album from Dave Forster on bass. The band, from the North West of England, wrote, played, recorded and produced this album themselves, releasing it as a few hundred musicassettes (that's how I got hold of it back in 1988). Only a year or so ago I was delighted to discover that the album had been re-released by the Italian Progressive Rock label Mellow Records, this time on CD. It can be bought direct from Mellow Records or via some of the Web shops that specialise in the genre.

Although the music is not quite as polished as that of full-time musicians (these guys had day jobs!), the song writing is very good, the music pleasant and accessible, and this album can hold its own against many Prog Rock releases from better known Prog bands. I've been listening to this album since 1988, which should say something.

All of the tracks are good. My particular favourites are 'With Wings And Sails' and 'Famulus'. The style of music is rather less synthesizer-based and more guitar and drum based than other neo-Progressive bands that I've heard. Chris Dunn, who is also the singer (a good one, too), uses the synthesizer well, but it's usually woven into the music rather than up front and in your face. Simeon Manners' guitar work is very pleasing, with a variety of moods and styles throughout the album. Chris Hare's drums are a bit uninventive on the first track, but his drum work on later tracks is very good - I particularly like his African take in 'Chicken Run'. Bassist Dave Forster puts in a very credible performance too. If I had to draw any comparisons, I would say that there is a slight resemblance to YES, but THIRD QUADRANT very much have their own sound.

'Listen To The Sky' starts with a spacey, echoey intro but turns into an up-tempo number that pumps along with thumping bass and drums. The tune is good, as are the synth and guitars (particularly in a YES-like instrumental interlude).

'Dream Time' again has some good guitar and synth work with YES hints and is a pleasant tune. I like this one.

'With Wings And Sails' starts off as a calm number and then becomes boppy. It has some pleasant acoustic guitar, plus good bass and synth. The melody is excellent and it's a nice song. The drums are varied and noticeably good on this one. Towards the end of the track there is a great instrumental section with guitar, bass and drums.

'Chicken Run' is another thumper, with some pounding bass and drums. There is a sound bite of the BBC newsreader Michael Buerke talking about the tense situation in Africa. The bass and 'African' drumming on this track are particularly good.

'Famulus' is another track that starts with some good bass. It's a calmer number with a great tune and is a real foot-tapper. Part way through there is an instrumental section with some very good guitar.

'Bloodbath' is the only instrumental track on the album (although all the tracks have lengthy instrumental sections). The track has a bombastic start (think 'enter the gladiators') then some good drums kick in, the synth produces the sound of an explosion, and the track speeds up with guitar for a while before returning to the slow theme from the beginning. There are several changes in tempo and style: the piece has slow, upbeat and helter skelter moments, with choppy axe then war drums, and some good sounds from the synth.

Overall, then, this is an interesting album and a worthwhile investment in my opinion. I would give it 3.5 stars if such a thing were possible but will go with 3 (Good, but non-essential) although I'm tempted to bump it up to 4 (Excellent addition to any Prog Rock collection). I'm certainly pleased to have it in my collection.

Report this review (#31112)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars In my opinion, in his second studio albun of entitled "Layered", the English band THIRD QUADRANT, presents a sonority much more approximate of the pop music than of any category of progressive rock presented in Progarchives. Because, although the musicians that it composes the line up of the band make an effort in trying to create in some moments "progressive landscapes" as it happens for instance in the track 2 "Dreamtime" starting from 3 min 32 seconds (approximately), I think it is not enough for this work to receive a note that recommended an appreciation for the prog fans, in fact if we analyze for instance the track 4 "Chicken Run" we will see that she stays practically for all duration of 6 min 07 sec in the same rhythm! For the reasons exposed above, I cannot credit to this disk a good quotation. My rate is 2 stars.
Report this review (#475486)
Posted Monday, July 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For about 5 years nothing have been heard around Third Quadrant and the band was fairly considered dead, but in 1988 they returned with a new cassette album under the title ''Layered''.The official core has been reduced to a trio, as bassist Chris Palin was no more part of the band, and bass duties were provided by Dave Forster.This would have propably remained another very rare album by Third Quadrant, as a few hundred copies were pressed, if it wasn't for the team of Mellow Records, which reissued the album in 1993 on CD.

Soundwise Third Quadrant have not changed much compared to their debut, playing a laid-back Neo Prog with spacey overtones and a discreet New Wave vibe in the vocal parts, building their ideas on electrocacoustic changes reminiscent of YES and spacey keyboard textures in a style closer to PINK FLOYD.The music is quite accesible, often melancholic but always deeply atmospheric with balanced instrumentation, sensitive and clean vocals and a combination of cheerful rhythms and more elaborate synth-drenched textures.However their overall approach still holds strong similarities with the early explosion of the 80's New Wave of British Prog, even if they have adapted some evident New Wave stylings over the years.The material is quite interesting although far from trully exciting, not actually surpassing the quality of their debut for the most of its part.All these just before the ending, stunning instrumental ''Bloodbath'', where the prog influences of the group come fully on surface, offering propably the best track of the band in their early days.Dramatic, semi-symphonic Progressive Rock with PINK FLOYD, CAMEL and GENESIS touches, passing from atmospheric keyboard textures to rockier guitar moves to bombastic Classical-based Prog with a dominant, cinematic sound.

The last track along deserves a warm place in the heart of any Neo Progger out there and it's the one that makes ''Layered'' slightly better than Third Quadrant's debut.Recommended to all fans of 80's Neo Prog and even Space Rock.

Report this review (#1107609)
Posted Sunday, January 5, 2014 | Review Permalink

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