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Steve Howe - Voyagers CD (album) cover

VOYAGERS

Steve Howe

Crossover Prog


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3 stars The collaboration between Steve Howe and Paul Sutin resulted in an album very closed to the concept of New Age music. I guess it wasn't a bad idea at all for SH to explore such musical ideas. His guitar talent is not at all to ignore in playing acoustic latin-shaded parts. There is only one rhythmic track-Fantasia for Fin-a little bit different to the others. The rest of songs are only for relaxation and meditation (I would say staying on a luxury boat or and watching the blue horizons...titles of songs are indeed referring to the ocean in his splendour). The mixture of piano, keyboards and acoustic and non-acoustic guitars is good, but generally speaking, the album is not brilliant. I dare to say it's one of the multitude of albums in the New Age long list. Like all the others voyagers,you can dream about your freedom and taste the sweet eternity into the ocean light!

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Send comments to Sachis (BETA) | Report this review (#170055)
Posted Tuesday, May 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The whales and dolphins of Switzerland

This 1995 release is actually credited as a collaboration between Steve Howe and Swiss born keyboard player, guitarist and composer Paul Sutin. The line up is competed by keyboard player Mike Marshall and drummer (and Yes remixer!) Dylan Howe, son of Steve. This was the second collaboration between Howe and Sutin, and while the contributions are more evenly balanced than on "Seaphim", Sutin remains slightly the more dominant influence.

The tracks were mostly conceived by Sutin working alone in Switzerland, where he recorded the majority of his parts first. Howe and the other contributors then added their contributions with Howe being heavily involved in the final mixing. The album was originally to be called "Voyagers in the blue universe", the music being inspired by dolphins. It was decided though that since similar themes were being used by other artists, the dolphins link would be played down.

It is hard to classify the music here. The easy option is to simply place it in the new age category, and to do so might be convenient but it would also be highly misleading. What we hear is certainly soothing and pleasant to listen to, but there are subtle complexities in the arrangements and the performances which make for what is actually a very interesting album. Take for example the guitar work on "Sanctuary", which stands alongside much of what Steve has done with Yes over the years, while revealing a jazz orientation he seldom allows to come to the fore. Howe also demonstrates the diversity of his talents on "Quantum leap" and "Pied Piper", where he plays keyboards.

"Fantasia for fins" (the fins being those of the aforementioned dolphins) is rather different to the rest of the tracks an the album, as the piece has a much more defined upbeat rhythm. The overall feel remains smooth, but the track features brass like keyboards and some intricate Santana like guitar work.

The final tracks (on the Armoury release) continue the oceans/whales/dolphins theme through "Sonar call" and "Ocean light". "Sonar call" is very oceanic, conjuring appropriate pictures in the mind as the symphonic keyboards mingle with the sounds of the sea. Once again, the feel is new age, but the music is so much more than that.

In all, a very enjoyable and relaxing album which blends the compositional strengths of Pual Sutin with his diverse talents and those of the legendary Steve Howe. While the main interest in this release will undoubtedly be through Steve's association with Yes, there is little overlap between his work with that band and what is to be heard here.

The 2000 re-release of the albums sees the track order revised by Steve Howe to "introduce a soothing element earlier in the album". This does indeed seem to improve things, the album building subtly from start to finish.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#178457)
Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
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Symphonic Team
1 stars I'm rating this with one star not because the quality of the recording itself is poor, but because this makes a very poor Steve Howe album, and an even poorer Prog album. In fact it is not a Steve Howe solo album, but an album made by Howe together with Paul Sutin and is credited to both of them. However, I think that the input is larger from Sutin than it is from Howe.

This all instrumental music is extremely subtle and subdued, almost like sophisticated elevator music! It is clearly designed for relaxation. Soft keyboards are the dominating instrument here and not Steve's guitar playing. Only on a couple of passages is the music recognizably Howe at all. This is basically a Paul Sutin album, I think.

The instrumentation is as simple as is the arrangements, the keyboards are not very varied and the only other instruments are acoustic guitar and electric guitar and sometimes drums. Only one track is really annoying, with a more rhythmic approach (I don't remember which one, but it is one towards the end). The rest is listenable, but utterly forgettable.

For the general Prog fan there is nothing of interest here, and not even for the Steve Howe fan (like myself) is there anything of particular interest.

Ignore this one!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#197577)
Posted Tuesday, January 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 'Voyagers' - Steve Howe & Paul Sutin (43/100)

The members of Yes aren't particularly known for much post-peak success in their own careers, whether together or apart. No decade was so bad for them as the 90s, and no member's solo career was perhaps as inconsistent as Steve Howe's, whose guitar work is often surprisingly underwhelming outside the context of the band. The album Voyagers came out in the middle of Steve Howe's weakest decade, although to call it a Howe record might be misleading. This instrumental new age album was largely penned by Swiss composer Paul Sutin, who was supposedly inspired by dolphins while writing it, or something. As collaborations go, this one feels imbalanced to the point of being a cash-in. Howe's guitar lazily meanders atop Sutin's gentle electronica, and the music urges the listener to relax, almost to the point of putting said listener on edge. Voyagers makes a novel departure from any Yes- redolent expectation one may have had approaching something from Howe's back catalogue, but it would be a hard sell to recommend this album as more than spacey wallpaper. This is what Ozric Tentacles might sound like after checking into the retirement home.

I generally find New Age skirts a fine line between sounding legitimately relaxing, and pushing that relaxation to the point where it sounds irritating, like elevator music, or the godawful diabetic noise they blare through the phone when you're on hold with customer service. While fellow Yes-man Jon Anderson found a great New Age collaboration with the almighty Vangelis, Howe's work with Paul Sutin is decidedly less impressive, and all the less 'relaxing' for it. Although there's precious little to keep a listener intrigued for long, Sutin lays a steady foundation with flutes and basic soft/space electronica. The beats are soft and floaty, and sometimes, they actually work. "Ocean Light" and "Sonar Call" aptly convey the desired aquatic atmosphere, and some other moments on the album successfully managed to lull me into an Atlantean bubble of relaxation.

No doubt most people who've listened to Voyagers were keeping their ears out for Howe's contributions, but his guitarwork is an accoutrement at best. Paul Sutin would write what are essentially backing tracks for Howe, and Howe would play over them in parts. That playing sounds like a pretty blatant cash-in. While there's not much space to excel past a few 'soulful' Gilmourisms in such a mellowed out context, I do feel like Steve Howe should have taken greater care to let his playing come to life. While his performance is vaguely similar to his style with Yes, the solos sometimes sound like they were written with the most basic taste in mind. Then again, I don't know how much of this may be attributed to a lack of passion so much as the album's aim and intent. One of the rare exceptions to the rule on Voyagers is the more upbeat "Sanctuary"; here, both Howe and Sutin excel at their respective crafts, with Howe taking a jazzier mode to his playing, and Sutin injecting his electronic form with a much-welcome urgency. Yes, an album of stuff like "Sanctuary" would be worth hearing by much more than merely diehard Yes fans, and it might even be enough to save this album from the dump heap. But generally speaking, I can't fathom returning to a Howe/Sutin collaboration when the sleepiness dares to outweigh the interest.

Between Howe and Sutin, I actually find myself more impressed by the work of the latter. Whereas Sutin sounds like he's composing with tenderness, Howe generally sounds like he played his parts with eyes open halfway. Voyagers generally sounds like a lazy album, and not in the way the artists intended.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#1439461)
Posted Sunday, July 12, 2015 | Review Permalink

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