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Shadowland Through the Looking Glass album cover
3.20 | 60 ratings | 14 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Matter of Perspective (2:16)
2. The Hunger (6:27)
3. Dreams of the Ferryman (8:44)
4. Half Moon Street (7:17)
5. When the World Turns to White (9:05)
6. The Waking Hour (7:49)
7. Through the Looking Glass (11:19)
8. Mindgames (7:21)

Total Time 60:18

Bonus track on 1997 reissue:
9. So the Music Stops (4:29)

Line-up / Musicians

- Karl Groom / guitars, co-producer
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, violin, vocals, composer & co-producer
- Ian Salmon / fretted & fretless basses, acoustic guitar
- Nick Harradence / drums, percussion

- Tina Riley / backing vocals (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Willebrord Elsing with Steven van der Hoeff (photo)

CD SI Music ‎- SIMPly 46 (1994, Netherlands)
CD Verglas Music ‎- VGCD010 (1997, UK) With a bonus track and new cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SHADOWLAND Through the Looking Glass ratings distribution

(60 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (45%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SHADOWLAND Through the Looking Glass reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Prognaut
4 stars A middle 90's point of departure album. Sometimes compared to Steve HOGARTH's MARILLION and clearly influenced by some other neo progressive bands such as ARENA and IQ, "Through The Looking Glass" broke through the progressive scene beautyfully with its awesome mixture of the old prog school and the ravenous and unpredictable mood swings. Breathtaking! SHADOWLAND also speaks up for the unrecognized Dutch bands, proving they can rock alright in spite of the incessant attacks "neo prog" has received. The album itself is pure and modest, much of the instrumentation displayed in here follows a plain line that doesn't lack of distinction. Clive NOLAN plays his trademark keyboards superbly all along the "Through the Looking Glass" experience. "When the World Turns to White" and the self-titled song deserve special attention, the most remarkable suites out of the nine tracked production. There's no possible way you can go wrong with SHADOWLAND, but for starters either with "neo prog" or the band itself, you can refer to previous releases such as debut album "Ring of Roses" and "Dreams of the Ferryman" for a complete interpretation.
Review by Menswear
3 stars An album without pretention.

Clive Nolan is a busy man. A very, very creative brain that seems to teem with a godzillion songs. For 20 years now he's been on the road with at least 4 differents bands which 2 of them made history: Arena and Pendragon.

Shadowland is an almost secret project to expel the dark thoughts of Nolan into songs. The reason why considering Shadowland is about the 'dark side of the force' if I may use that expression. They play dark, gloomy music with relatively heavy guitars and the usual touch of Nolan on the keys. Not much sunshine seems to pierce through that thick layer of clouds, and that's quite cool with me. Lots of the same elements of Arena but Shadowland songs are harder to get into. Funny, they're longer but they seem to be stretched more than being really progressive.

Less melodic than Pendragon and less progressive than Arena, this is a rather linear album with no real surprises. One surprise for me was to hear Nolan's vocals for the first time. Quite surprising! He sings rather well, putting emphasis on emotions. A curious feeling of hearing an UK version of Joey Ramone gets me.

Being the center core and only contributor on the songwriting, Nolan shares a lot with The Cure's one and only beloved leader, Robert Smith. They sing in a rather same way and some stuff on Through the Looking Glass could've been heard on Desintegration (The Cure's last good album). Nolan being the only captain on board seems not to be the best bet to accumulate acclaims. When Pointer and Mitchell joined with Arena, the mixture really gelled and a particular spark could be detected. But with Shadowland, the songs are still good, the musicianship is still profesionnal (especially with Groom on guitar and Salmon on fretless bass) but nothing seems to part from the herd.

Basically Shadowland is a subdivision that gives a chance to Nolan to express more negatively his potential. Prepare for more tragic compostions, the ones that you use to listen in your depressing phase as a teen.

A step higher of most néo-progressive bands mostly because it has it's own signature. It's good to hear something not ripped off from the usual suspects. We can give that to Nolan: he rarely gives us a half-assed product. The guy just cares too much.

Play several times before buying BUT fans on Nolan will find candy for their sweet thooth!

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Karl Groom and Clive Nolan have both certainly left their mark on the Prog world. They always give us accessible and well played music, and this is no exception. Some of their mates they thank in the liner notes are: Mick Pointer, Martin Orford, John Jowitt, Nick Barrett, Fudge Smith, Peter Gee, Damian Wilson, Tracy Hitchings and many others. Some good and funny pictures in the liner notes of the band.

"A Matter Of Perspective" is a mellow, acoustic song with vocals and the shortest track on the album.."The Hunger" is a melodic and upbeat tune. It settles some when the vocals come in. A tasteful guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. One of my favourites is "Dreams Of The Ferryman" with it's mellotron and violin, it has a dark sound that eventually becomes quite uplifting. Great sounding guitar 3 1/2 minutes in as bass throbs.

"Half Moon Street" is even darker with heavy drums and some great bass playing. "When The World Turns To White" is mellow to open with some violin joining in. Thankfully it kicks in after 2 minutes to a more uptempo sound. "The Waking Hour" is a favourite of mine. I just like the sound and the vocals. It's a feel good track. "Through The Looking Glass" is the longest track at over 11 minutes and it's full of great keyboards and guitar. Kind of a "Alice In Wonderland" theme here. "Mindgames" ends the album much like it started. "So The Music Stops" is a bonus track and features the amazing piano playing of Clive Nolan, worth the price of admission alone.

A good release and one i'm glad I own.

Review by Fishy
3 stars Shadowland was Clive Nolan's first attempt to create a real progressive band outside Pendragon. Even though the band appeared in the nineties, they explore the neo prog pop of the eighties. You easily notice the influences of Marillion (period 1987 - 1989) or Pendragon but also British pop bands like Simple Minds or Then Jericho, just to name a few. The pop tendencies were the heritage of the music Nolan wrote prior to his joining of Pendragon. Hearing it now, one can wonder if the music is able to survive that period of time. Songs like "dreams of the ferrymen" or "The waking hour" are little more than catchy pop tunes with a an impressive progressive arrangement with heavy guitar chords and moogs. In case of "The waking hour" it works out fine. The chorus tune is most enjoyable and the arrangements impressive. "Half moon street" is the track I love the most. This wonderful track combines dark atmospheres, accessible emotional melodies and a big dark rhythm section. Another splendid chorus melody and the double guitars form an astonishing wall of sound at the end of the track. Guitarist Karl Groom does an excellent job throughout the whole album. His guitar parts are heavy in most parts but there's also plenty of slide guitar and every now and then, there's a gentle sounding part. The title track is based on the work of Lewis Carroll of the same name. This is the emotional heart of the album. The composition of different parts and fragments would fit in on an Arena album perfectly. Still I cannot deny the feeling there's something missing.. Lyrically "When the world turns to white" is about the beauty of a landscape covered with snow hiding the rubbish underneath. A great idea for a lyric. The song starts with a harpsichord with a violin on top of a great vocal part of Nolan. The wonderful chorus melody gets broadened later on by adding spooky key lines and heavy guitar chords underneath. Great track !

This is quite a strange neo-prog album. A combination of sing a long melodies, popish atmospheres, haunting horror themes in the arrangements and lyrics. There is a strange kind of desperate, paranoid feeling to the music and especially the vocals. Nowadays I guess a lot of people would find this pathetic but until the beginning of the nineties, emotional music was sustained. Nolan wrote all of the album and I suspect him going through an emotionally difficult period at the time. So this isn't exactly what I would call uplifting music. Still the inspired melodies show what a musical genius this man really is.

"A matter of perspective" and "mindgames" have Floydian influences. These rather plain tunes are awesome thanks to the excellent melodies. The interesting lyrics sum up the general idea in the lyrical themes on this album. From the three albums this band released, this is the most consistent and interesting to my humble opinion but I guess it's solely a matter of personal taste. Still I doubt whether I would recommend "Through the looking glass" or not. The small scale production, boring rhythm section and dated key sounds are the main reason. Still this album could interest the legion of Arena fans.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Shadowland´s second CD is quite different from the first. It seems that Clive Nolan found his voice (yes, the man can really sing). He has a limited range but does it with passion and feeling, never trying to stretch too far. This is the first (and only) time I ever heard him playing the violin (on the introduction of When The World Turns To White, with a good effect) The sound here has nothing of the pop/new wave flavours he used on Ring Of Roses. The resulting Cd has a heavier sound, closer to Arena sometimes, but not as much as they did on their third and final album, Mad As A Hatter.

Certainly the band was very inspired and it shows throughout the whole disc, the music is powerful and exciting. Lots of keyboards swirls, great guitar lines, Ian Salmon´s bass never sounded better and the drumming is astounishing. The second part of the CD is where the best songs are, but on the whole this is a great neo prog album that is quite original. It is a pity that the follow up did not match the first two. (for further information about it see my review of Mad As A Hatter). Recommeded to any neo prog fans in general and to Arena ones in paricular.

Review by progrules
3 stars I think the average rating for this album is just about right after 15 reviews. It's what I had in mind when I gave this a last and final listen yesterday. And in fact it was a long time ago since the previous time. This was neo I played in the mid-nineties when this band was at its peak and then I mean mr. Clive Nolan in particular.

In the beginning I really loved this one, Half Moon street was the first track I got familiar with thanks to a sampler. I thought that song was very good but when I analize it afterwards it was also because the rest of the sampler was far less. Still, a nice track this but other tracks appeared a lot better even, like The Hunger and Through the looking glass. I still feel that way, the other tracks are really not that great to me.

This is more or less a concept album about Alice in Wonderland, I don't know the story in detail (it's a typical British tale) but it's of course recognizable to let your concept album deal with such a famous story. At least you already have your lyrics as a start. In this album I also feel the story is more significant than the music, that is if I compare this album with the other two.

It's because I'm not too thrilled musicwise I can't go as far as 4 stars for this, so 3 (3,25 to be more precise) it is.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I was positively surprised by the vocal capabilities of Clive on the debut ''Ring Of Roses''. And this one is not shy of, at least as far as the vocal department is concerned.

In terms of music, I have to say that this album is not as strong as its predecessor. I also feel a bit tired about these ''conceptual'' albums. As if it was necessary to produce such albums to be credible. As far as I'm concerned, if a band puts six of seven good songs together and records an album, it is pretty fine for me. To defend some thin concept is a lost battle IMO.

This album is quite ''Arena'' oriented: it is heavier than their debut and I have some difficulties to identify great songs here. The album starts with the third track: ''Dreams Of The Ferryman''. But before this one, one had to digest ''The Hunger'' which is quite a hard task.

I have the feeling that inspiration was not at its peak while Clive wrote those songs. Average music performed by skilled musicians. There are hardly any surprises while you listen to this work. As if those guys were heading the factory to work for the day and then leave after their shift. I can't feel lots of emotion here.

This album is for sure not a gem of music. Still, I will go and see them in their reunion tour soon, because those guys really mean things to me. But when an average work is released, I can't be over enthusiast about it.

The more I listened to this album, the less I could be charmed. The popish ''Waking Hour'' won't change my opinion of course. The long title track is a descent into the abyss of dullness until a great guitar break woke me up and to be complete it is followed by a dynamic and bombastic closing section.

This album sounds flat to my ears. Two stars.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Beware of the Ferryman (cos I'm sure he's going to get you)

Following the success of their début album "Ring of Roses"and subsequent live performances, Shadowland regrouped in 1993 to record a follow up. Clive Nolan already had much of the material for the album written, the style of the songs being very much in the same vein as the the previous album.

We open with a brief acoustic song,"A matter of perspective" which effectively merges with the upbeat "The hunger" to form an 8½ minute two part song. For their recent concerts, captured on the "Edge of night" DVD, these two track remain entwined as they open the gig. Nolan's vocals show signs of a growing confidence here and throughout the album although I suspect he will never be entirely comfortable as a front man. "The hunger" has all the feel of a track from Arena's latest album (at time of writing), "Pepper's ghost". The catchy hook and powerful instrumentation climaxing in superb lead guitar from Karl Groom.

The epic "Dreams of the ferryman" is for many the high point of "Through the looking glass". This was the last track to be written by Clive for the album, inspired by a recurring dream he was having about a serial killer known as "The ferryman". The song takes us on a wonderful musical journey the lyrics being dark but not overtly disturbing. Towards the end we find some delightful mellotron like sounds, and a Genesis ("Los Endos") like melody. "When the world turns to white", has more in common with older Arena songs the likes of which appeared on that band's first two albums.

"The waking hour" is arguably the most accessible of the songs, and undoubtedly a true crowd pleaser when played live. The pleasing melody and infectious beat combine to form a highly commercial yet still creditable number with a strong hook. The longest track is the 11 minute title song. While there is no apparent overall concept to the album, this track also appears to describe an unsavoury character of sorts. The original closing track was "Mindgames", a softer song which reminds me of Arena's "The visitor" (title track). The piece builds to a repetitive anthem like chorus, with female backing vocals and a lovely, but unfortunately fading, lead guitar break.

The Japanese release of the album, and the Verglas label re-issue both contain the bonus track "So the music stops". As a marked contrast, here we have what is effectively a Clive Nolan solo spot, with just vocal and piano.

While "Through the looking glass" breaks no new ground when compared to its predecessor, we must keep in mind what a fine album "Ring of roses" was. This is a solid second album which serves to consolidate the excellence of the music of Shadowland.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Mercy, please don't do this to me, let this be my nightmare

Through The Looking Glass is, in my opinion, the weakest of the three Shadowland albums. My first impression of this album was that the guitars have a somewhat harder sound here and the mood is perhaps a bit darker. But first impressions notwithstanding, Through The Looking Glass is even more hook-laden and poppy than Ring Of Roses. Like on that previous album, several of the songs here have overly strong choruses that stick to your mind like glue, but do not affect you of any deeper level. Also, for an album being released in 1994, Through The Looking Glass still has a sound that seems to belong in the 80's.

The album starts in a very promising manner with A Matter Of Perspective, a very good acoustic and vocal number that functions as the introduction to The Hunger. While A Matter Of Perspective is a very nice opener and a great mood setter for The Hunger, and the intro to that song itself is very promising, the letdown is significant when we get to the main melody of the song. And while verses are strong, the chorus of the song is actually quite hard to stomach. Clive sings "You've got no hold on me - scream and shout your cold frustration. I'm not your fantasy - there is nothing you can do about it" in a melody so catchy that it would not be out of place in the Eurovision Song Contest! The lyrics here are banal and it is hard to believe that they come from the same man who is responsible for the great concepts behind Arena's The Visitor and Contagion albums. No guitar solo in the world could restore the credibility of this song, but the guitar solos from Karl Groom are indeed very good throughout the whole album.

The next song takes as its subject matter a nightmare that Clive had about a (supposedly legendary?) serial killer called 'the ferryman'. With such a grim subject matter, the song is surprisingly cheerful and judging from the sound and feeling of the song, it is indeed very hard to believe that this song is about a horrible serial killer, and when Clive sings "Mercy, please don't do this to me, let this be my nightmare" etc., again with a strong hook, he fails miserably in conveying the scary message (if you want to hear scary, listen to the title track from Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album!). The light-hearted nature of the music does not fit well with the subject matter of the lyrics and this takes away some of the credibility of the song.

Like the other two albums released by Shadowland, Through The Looking Glass too, contain some very good songs. The next two songs are the highlights of the album for me. Here we are finally given songs that are a bit more in line with what you might expect from a band that calls themselves "Shadowland". Half Moon Street has a strong melody that does not come across as too catchy and the nine minute plus When The World Turns To White is a very good song that features violin to great effect (credited to Nolan himself, he has so many unexpected talents!). Here the mood is a bit darker, less melodic and perhaps more progressive.

The Waking Hour is again a catchier song reminding me of the Pomp-Prog band Magnum. The title track is the longest and most progressive track of the album with its 11 plus minutes. It is a decent song with good keyboard and guitar work, electric and some acoustic, but it does not leave a strong lasting impression on me. The album closes with Mindgames which is a reprise of A Matter Of Perspective with same melody and lyrics, it is a good album closer.

Clive Nolan is an impressive multi-talented artist, but only small glimpses of his genius can be found on Through The Looking Glass. It is hard to believe that only one year after this album Clive founded the great Arena and created their excellent debut album Song's From The Lion's Cage. Nothing by Shadowland is up to par with even the least good songs by Arena in my opinion. Since I am a fan of Clive Nolan, for me, Through The Looking Glass is a nice addition to my collection, but it is certainly not the best place to start.

I am very happy to own all of the Shadowland albums as part of the limited box set called Cautionary Tales. This box set is, as far as I know, the only way to get these albums now and it is a very nice package with an informative booklet with a biography and all the lyrics to all the albums. The set also includes the good live DVD Edge Of Night. All the albums also have bonus tracks. There are three bonus tracks on the Through The Looking Glass disc. So The Music Stops, which is a very good piano ballad, strongly evokes Queen and I can even imagine this song being both written and sung by the great Freddie Mercury! I actually enjoy this song more than several of the songs that ended up on the album proper. The second bonus track is a demo version of Half Moon Street which is nice because this is one of the better songs from the album and this version is quite different from the one they put on the album. The third bonus track, Foreign Lands is very close in style to Ring Of Roses (the title track) and this could easily have been a radio hit in the late 80's/early 90's. This would have made Phil Collins proud!

Some good moments here for sure, but also some less than good moments. Overall, a rather average album.

Review by Warthur
2 stars A similarly AOR-leaning followup to the preceding Ring of Roses, Through the Looking Glass shows very little in the way of musical development or transition from its predecessor. If you liked that album, you'll probably like this too, but for my part I find it just as lightweight and forgettable. Clive Nolan's vocals at points remind me of a more amateurish attempt at the sort of performances he'd later inspire from the various vocalists who've worked with Arena over the years, so I guess in that context he finally found singers who could do justice to his ideas; this time around, alas, his musical ideas fail him.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Following the warm praise of the press and Neo Prog fans worldwide, Shadowland entered the Thin Ice Studios to record their second album.Featuring Tina Riley on backing voices, the whole process would last only about a month, between October and November 93', and the new work would see the light in 1994 on SI Music under the title ''Through the looking glass''.

As Shadowland's style was always quite song-oriented and with generally simplistic structures, noone could expect a massive change in terms of style, however Shadowland seem to have added another dose of accesibility in their sound, which now has plenty of AOR vibrations in the more mellow moments and the catchy choruses.Of course this is nowhere near cheesiness, because Nolan often takes over with some trully bombastic keyboard waves, while his voice is always expressive without any hear-melt orientations.I could say this is closer than ever to (Nolan's future project) ARENA's more edgy and accesible tracks or LANDMARQ's pair of opening albums with lots of interesting guitar solos, powerful synthesizers and well-crafted melodies.Surprisingly the tracks are rather long, but do not expect any particular variations, the extended durations come as a result of a couple of long intros along with the dual keyboard and guitar flashes along the way.Despite its simplicity and lack of trully adventuruous spirit, ''Through the looking glass'' remains a fairly decent album due to its interim, highly atmospheric pomposity, the huge amount of energy and dynamics throughout and the decent sum of good, memorable melodious parts.

Recommended to all fans of well-composed Neo Prog.Passionate music with dramatic segments, carefully executed rhythmic and melodic parts and sufficient vocal performance.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Well, it seems my tastes are different. I listened to mostly-praised albums from Marillion and IQ (Script For A Jester's Tear, Fugazi, Brave, Dark Matter, Frequency) and the only album I generally liked was IQ's "Frequency". As I'm a die-hard fan of Pendragon and Arena, I decided to give Clive N ... (read more)

Report this review (#2011235) | Posted by PureViewer | Friday, August 31, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Again, as with their first album is the sense of deja vu, a neo retrogressive tendency, with elements of others to flavour, Pink Floyd, Marillion (early), a smattering of Simple Minds, the vocals remind of Marian Gold (Alphaville)? The drums continue to enthral and annoy, the sound is like the ... (read more)

Report this review (#116318) | Posted by huge | Sunday, March 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Shadowland continue their exploration of dark neo-progressive rock, dark melodious sympho, with swirling keyboards, good guitars and a perfect rhytm section. uptempo multi- layered melodic songs, with shifting time-signatures, mood swings and great musical storietelling. great, but not comparab ... (read more)

Report this review (#6572) | Posted by tuxon | Friday, March 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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