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Days Between Stations - Giants CD (album) cover

GIANTS

Days Between Stations

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars "Giants" is a decent album from these guys, though it sure has the Billy Sherwood stamp all over it (not a bad thing!), especially the songs on which he sings. He also plays bass (some really nice Chris Squire style), and some surprisingly great drums. I especially like the way they miked the drums for this album - feels a bit like you're sitting in the middle of the drumkit.

A couple of songs or passages of songs still have that Pink Floyd feel. A lot of this album then comes off sounding a bit like a YES album with Sherwood's Squire-like vocals and bass playing, and some very good keyboards from Fuentes. I have to say that I'm not overly impressed with the guitar playing from Samzadeh. It is generally mixed kind of low on the album, and I feel (personally) that the whole album could have benefitted from bringing the guitar a lot more up front in the mix. He favors that "wailing" sound; it's very subtle playing. But he still just doesn't impress me. If Steve Howe is a 10 (and he may just be an 11... ;-) in the world of prog rock guitarists, then this guy comes in at around a 6 or 7? He's good. I like great.

Good album! The opening track is the best - energetic and interesting. I feel like I've heard track #4 "Goes By Gravity" someplace before; perhaps on some various artists compilation album. Or it's very close to some other song? Nothing to skip on the album, but perhaps not as evenly original or impressive as I would like these days. 3-1/2 stars today.

Report this review (#2450193)
Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | Review Permalink
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3 stars At a very first glance ... well ... the cover art, painted by Paul Whitehead, reminded me of the Nursery Crime album somehow. And then I was pointed to some greek legend, I mean the tied up giant somehow. The huge robot on the other hand wears a dinosaur pic ... uhmmmm .... this is somewhat weird. Some food for thought in any case, about a possible concept existing behind that for example. DAYS BETWEEN STATIONS are Sepand Samzadeh (guitars) and Oscar Fuentes (keyboards). It's their third album in the meanwhile, released seven years since the previous 'In Extremis'. And now attention, they have teamed up with jack of all trades Billy Sherwood yet on this occasion. Everybody who is fairly up to date when it comes to the prog scene will know that he had a presence on uncountable productions recently, more than every other musician, at least I'm aware of. Not sure if he still has the overview. Much of it didn't appeal to me really, to be honest, but luckily it is different this time.

Hey, the Sherwood impact is important here, as he rather skillfully plays bass and drums throughout, and cares for the lead vocals on top. Above that he was in charge as the producer and helped the band with arrangements and lyrics. Experience pays off. Hence here we have a recommend issue. Take your time for this excurse. Exemplarily I will highlight the extended opener Spark that shines with varied layers and moods, Hammond and Mellotron drenched moments, partially reminiscent to the likes of Genesis and King Crimson. Finally the The Common Thread is a song written by Sherwood himself, and shows some obvious YES similarity. DAYS BETWEEN STATIONS have produced some proper delicate progressive rock stuff with a total length of about 60 minutes. Aside from the aforemetioned influences fans of Big Big Train and similar should pay attention also. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#2455370)
Posted Sunday, October 11, 2020 | Review Permalink
3 stars DBS is releasing its third album at the end of the year with more accomplished, more complex and a little less unstructured titles than its predecessors. The titles have a good taste of the seventies, there is an obvious jazzy side to certain pieces, others are more in the form of "radio-edit" titles if the radio could still spend a little musical creation, that's another story . Confirmed artists like Billy Sherwood come to set the rhythm of dinosaurs like YES; Durga McBroom just gave her voice more sensitivity on "Witness the End of the World" and I had stopped on this album too to listen to the still young voice of Colin Molding on "Goes by Gravity"! It's done, it's beautiful, but it still remains on the same Yessian tone of the 70's with a fruity and variegated progressive rock quite difficult to access; you have to land several times to dive into their crazy and extroverted world and not hesitate to go through their musical drawers to go far, very far. A more successful album but with the same creative blood as their predecessors.
Report this review (#2525725)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sepand Samzadeh (guitars) and Oscar Fuentes Bills (keyboards) met in 2003 and have been making music under the Days Between Stations project name since 2007 (based on the title of Steve Erikson's debut novel). However, it was only with the release of their third album, Giants in September 2020, that I came across them? and I'm very pleased I did, too.

Giants is one of my albums of the last year and is a sumptuous slice of '70s epic prog rock with a modern edge, intermingled with a range of compositional styles and moods across the seven tracks.

Fuentes and Samzadeh are joined by a number of guest artists for this, their most proggy album, and it is the presence of Billy Sherwood of Yes which contributes to the soundscapes resulting across most of the tracks. He previously co-produced their second album in 2013, but here he contributes vocals on most of the songs, as well as bass and even drums. The combination of personnel works very well.

The album kicks off with an almost 17-minute epic, Spark, and the '70s Yes/ELP-style keyboards set the tone for a lot of what is to come. Sherwood's driving bass and strong multi-tracked vocals, allied to the ebb and flow in tempo of the retro keyboards and some lovely plaintive guitar runs, makes it a great start to proceedings.

However, the beautiful, piano-led and multi-layered ballad Witness the End of the World provides a refreshing contrast, and the rich vocals of Durga McBroom (Pink Floyd touring vocalist) are a real treat. Last time I heard her was on some great backing vocals to the 'Prog From Home' version of Dave Kerzner's Into the Sun (one of my lockdown highlights from those dark days).

Another Day has some of the best, most emotional vocals I've heard from Sherwood, supported by deep, growling bass, and flowing symphonic prog ensemble work ? the pace often mirrors the labours of Sisyphus as he pushes the boulder up the hill day after day, to great effect.

Fourth track Goes by Gravity is a complete contrast and shows that the band do not want to be tied down to a particular prog-style all the time. The distinctive vocals of XTC's Colin Moulding accompany an '80s synth-sounding piece of power pop/art-rock that would have not been out of place in his former band's singles catalogue. Wickedly catchy, it's an earworm that will stay in your head for a while, if you let it. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a quaint diversion before a full return to prog rock on the title track.

Giants might be four minutes shorter than Sparks but it is another epic and more than its equal. A piano introduction and soothing flow of guitar and keyboards, with almost Big Big Train-style lyrical content, gradually opens up in true Transatlantic or Wobbler fashion, with lush instrumentation, searing solos and even a Floydian ending to bring it to a close. Lovely stuff!

After that, the final two tracks would always struggle to match that intensity, but the instrumental The Gathering packs a lot into its four minutes. A late-night jazzy piano gives way to Hackett-like acoustic guitar, the pace picking up steadily as the layers of music are applied.

Final track The Common Thread is a Sherwood-written song and could easily fit on a latter-day Yes album ? especially with the Howe-style soloing and the vocal harmonies that conclude it. With funky, rich bass, the vocals are almost Winwood-like at times. It's a good track but perhaps lacking the coherence or 'wow factor' the earlier epics had.

The overall result is a fine prog rock album which deserves a much wider listening on this side of the 'Pond'. Funetes and Samzadeh are very talented musicians and composers who have benefitted from some of the best work I have heard Billy Sherwood deliver for some time (as if freed from the weight of expectation he faces from some Yes fans in filling the shoes of the iconic Chris Squire). He even does a respectable job on the drums, although I did wonder what a more experienced progressive drummer such as a Gavin Harrison or Craig Blundell might have added to the party. Maybe next time?

Finally, it is great to see Paul Whitehead supplying the album cover art ? a real bonus. I didn't spot any croquet mallets and hoops on the lawn, but they might be there somewhere!

(From The Progressive Aspect)

Report this review (#2581390)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2021 | Review Permalink

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