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Cryptic Vision - Moments of Clarity CD (album) cover

MOMENTS OF CLARITY

Cryptic Vision

Heavy Prog


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5 stars In the candid photos included in the CD booklet for Moments of Clarity, the members of Florida's Cryptic Vision can be seen wearing Yes, Spock's Beard and Dream Theater T- shirts - appropriate attire considering that Cryptic Vision's highly accessible and pleasing music plays out like an amalgam of those three bands. Throw in some additional inspiration from Saga and Kansas, and you've got a fresh-sounding symphonic progressive rock band that's not afraid to aim for mass appeal. And Cryptic Vision - comprised of three American music veterans: vocalist Todd Plant, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Rick Duncan, and guitarist/keyboard player Robert Van Dyne - do so without sacrificing any of its artistic integrity. Save for the out-of-place spoken-word section on "Contemplation," Moments of Clarity is a thought-provoking concept album. The disc opens with a five-minute instrumental that encompasses the band's musical dexterity before segueing into "New Perspective," which highlights Plant's crystalline and emotional voice. From there, the layered harmonies on "Grand Design" lead into the soaring AOR arrangements of "Angeline" and the brief "Losing Faith," which give way to the heavenly choir on "Angel's Requiem." The extended guitar and synth solos in "Colored Leaf" offers shades of Pink Floyd, while "Shock Value" is a solid rocker that echoes Eighties arena rock. And the 12-and- a-half-minute, four-part title track will have progheads salivating amidst swirling synths, odd time signatures and vocals that recall Enchant. By the time closing track "Ascension" plays out, the album is over much too quickly - even with a running time of almost an hour.

Plant was a solid rock vocalist in the AOR outfits Eyewitness and Millenium (and he apparently sang wrestler Hulk Hogan's theme song) but who knew he had something like Moments of Clarity in him? And Duncan may be - just maybe - a budding Neal Morse, sans the voice. Cryptic Vision's second album will be crucial to this band's trajectory.

Michael Popke, Sea of Tranquility.org

Report this review (#32239)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars This CD was not bad, but seemed to lack the certain something that makes a record stand out from the crowd. To be honest it could have been so much better. I was disappointed in that I bought the CD partly because of good reviews on this website.

The vocals were good but the playing lacked that something that makes you sit up and take notice, in other words the CD had a somewhat bland feelingto it. This and the fact that all the album lacked variation in tempo or dynamics, meant that I was somewhat bored by the end.

A typical worthy bland US effort at prog.

Report this review (#32241)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Agree with Jon H. I bought this album on high recommendations and the band being touted as the 'next best thing' Well if I wanted to hear Starcastle merged with Kansas and Saga then I would play those band's music instead.

It is not a bad album , but found it a little dull at times and unmoved and nothing made the hair rise up as was evident with say...Satellite's new album (now there is a superb album) Clearly Kansas are a reference but when I listened to the album I kept thinking that I had heard all this before many times by different bands. The band play well but there is nothing there that makes them different to so many others.

Dissapointed and unlikely to take it out frequently. I also think that comparing this band to Spocks Beard is a joke. There is neither the complexity, melodic brilliance or superb vocals (although the vocals are not bad) that is associated with early Spocks and also nothing in there to make me think of Pink Floyd. However, when all is said and done, it is not the worse album I have bought this year. I also took the advice of some to buy Enchant and what a major let down that was. Not prog, more AOR just like this album which is mainly in the latter's genre.

Report this review (#32242)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Cryptic Vision has received enthusiastic press for this debut. and I'm going to add to it: This is an exciting, beautifully realized piece of work. The core of the band is Todd Plant on vocals, Rick Duncan on keyboards, guitars, drums, bass, and djembe and Robert Van Dyne on keyboards and guitars. Duncan is the chief songwriter here and his absorbing compositions are full of great hooks, soaring melodies, and skillful use of tension and release. I'm assuming Plant is responsible for the vocal arrangements, which through his own overdubs plus several backing vocalists, expand his pliant emotional voice into frequent, rapturous choruses. With their excellent, complex songcraft, multiple keyboards, and use of several violinists (including David Ragsdale), the music often recalls Kansas, while song structures, and those vocal arrangements, evoke Yes. But what's most appealing about Cryptic Vision - and it's a quality shared by those influences - is a heart- swelling positivism that hits the listener like a head rush. Inventive guitar work, cool organ solos and tremendous joy in music-making abound. Highly recommended.

Larry Nai, Progession Magazine

Report this review (#52272)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Opening with the most wonderful instrumental "Introspective" the listener immediately realizes this is going to be a top flight CD. Slowing building this prelude if you will, has you on the edge of your listening seat from the get go. What Cryptic Vision has created here is nothing less than a stellar CD dripping with great prog rock hooks, vocals, masterful playing and a story line that rips at your heart while all the while offering up the ultimate answer to all the evil that attacks us day in and day out. Cryptic Vision has put together a series of songs that address those deep soul searching questions in each of our lives. Songs of perspective, contemplation, love, love lost, moments of clarity, salvation and ascension. (Sounds like song titles to me!) The music is bright and full of life even if some of the songs touch on such great loss in ones life this reviewer found himself almost in tears. There is nothing here that makes you think, wow, I've never heard that before but you will find strong hooks, mellotron, violin work that sends chills up and down your spine, great guitar work, a super strong rhythm section and excellent vocal harmonies. In the end this is a CD where Cryptic Vision takes the listener on a journey of discovery. A journey where you seek answers and find some. Seek love and find a personal meaningful love between two humans. But this journey is much like life as love is lost and you even forget what the questions were. Even worse the journey takes you through a loss of ones faith. But the journey does not simply end; no Cryptic Vision takes you full circle ultimately to that Light that leads to Eternity. Excellent music, excellent musicians, excellent story. A phenomenal CD that will not disappoint any fans of melodic symphonic progressive rock. I just hope they can pull this off live.

Stephen Ellis, Prog4you.com

Report this review (#84536)
Posted Saturday, July 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After years of being a fan of prog Rick Duncan decided to take the plunge and write and record a prog album. Joining forces with vocalist Todd Plant Rick came up with 11 tracks coming in just under an hour.

WARNING: For those who hate the vocals of Journey, Styx and Kansas or anything else you consider AOR to the point that it ruins the music for you stop reading now and go on to other groups. You won't like this!

For those of you more open to such things then this is a good album. Outside of a few keyboard parts Robert Van Dyne plays and a couple of great violin solos from David Ragsdale (Kansas) all the other instruments are handled by Duncan while Plant does all the vocals. The album lacks some feeling of being finished and I would think that comes form the fact Rick, while competent is not a master of everything he plays.

The album is a concept album of a man who has tsuffers the tradgedy of his wife dying that brings him to question what he believes and it is his search within and without that constitutes the story. The music is passionate and emotional to match this story. Rick Duncan is influenced by Kansas, Spock's Beard (although I would guess it is Kerry Livgren and Neal Morse more specifically) as well as Dream Theater and Yes. These are influences are apparent with out being derivative. Still there is plenty to like in songs like Introspective, The Grand Design, Shock Value, Moments of Clarity and Ascension. The songs are well crafted even the more simpler tracks like Angeline and Colored Leaf. I look forward to future works from this group.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#170793)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Facing the front cover of this album and knowing that this CD is related to progressive rock,you almost can imagine what to expect.After PRESTO BALLET,CRYPTIC VISION is another US band that tries to bring the 70's spirit of KANSAS,YES,STYX and SUPERTRAMP to surface in a modern hard progressive way.And I admit they have done it in a good way...

The members of the band aren't amateur musicians.In fact they are very experienced like Todd Plant,Rick Duncan and of course David Ragsdale.That is also obvious also by the songs' format as none of them has obvious weaknesses.The band is very much influenced by KANSAS and secondly a MAGELLAN- and SAGA related sound is also evident.The album to almost a full hour of music approachable also for non-prog listeners...

''Introspective'' is a great intro with stunning musicianship,great keyboard and guitar work here, followed by ''New prespective'',which sounds like a modern KANSAS tribute.''Contemplation'' is a nice mellow track with beautiful melodic SAGA-like ending theme.''Grand design'' is an alternating complex/melodic track in the vein of SUPERTRAMP and MAGELLAN.At this point of the work begin some ballad-like tracks,among them are ''Angeline'' (cheesy and AOR-ish,rather weak),''Losing faith'',''Coloured leaf'' (both in the vein of KANSAS/STYX/AOR,nice tracks) and ''Ascension'' (a YES/KANSAS combination).''Angels requiem'' is an opera/classical influenced piece of music with female operatic vocals,while ''Shock value'' is a hard rocking,almost metal speed track reminiding me of ARTENSION with John West-like angry vocals.''Moments of clarity'' is the 12 min.epic of the album with influences by YES,KANSAS and SUPERTRAMP, a very good easy-listening track with decent performance by all the members...

It is obvious that CRYPTIC VISION tried not th show music skills but to have fun and create an accesible prog rock album with catchy songs in a progressive way.This is a very enjoyable album and a good break between prog efforts that really take a lot of spins to appreciate.So,have a break,listening to this album that combines 70's prog,heavy prog,AOR and hard rock in an nice way...3 stars...

Report this review (#187015)
Posted Sunday, October 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Well this does come as advertised with that AOR flavour and a KANSAS / STYX vibe. I really have had a hard time enjoying this mainly because this just isn't the style of music I can appreciate.

"Introspective" is the opening instrumental and we get some spacey atmosphere to start before a beat, synths then a full sound kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes.This is good. Violin after 3 minutes and the guitar solos late. "New Perspective" sounds like a KANSAS track unfortunately and I don't like the harmonies. "Contemplation" opens with some good sounding atmosphere. Spoken words before 2 minutes then it kicks in with vocals. A guitar solo a minute later. "Grand Design" is my favourite track. A heavy beat to start and when the vocals arrive they remind me of YES. Heavy drums are back before 4 minutes. Some guitar and organ follow then harmonies. "Angeline" features some heaviness early then it settles some when the vocals arrive.The heaviness does come and go.The lyrics are too syrupy here. "Losing Faith" is mainly strummed guitar,vocals and piano. Sappy lyrics too.

"Angel's Requiem" is melancholic with piano and organ.Some good vocal melodies and drums arrive late. "Clored Leaf" is piano and reserved vocals. It picks up some after 2 minutes and gets fuller. Some wicked guitar follows. "Shock Value" opens with experimental sounds then it kicks in with vocals. Not a fan. "Moments Of Clarity" opens with atmosphere then it turns uptempo before a minute.Violin 2 1/2 minutes in.The atmosphere is back after 3 minutes then it kicks back in with vocals a minute later. Ripping guitar after 11 minutes. "Ascension" is a pleasnt closer with vocals. Some violin after 3 1/2 minutes.

A long listen for me even if it is under an hour. I hear their next album is better. I'll let you know. Fans only.

Report this review (#393598)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permalink

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