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Touchstone The City Sleeps album cover
3.84 | 97 ratings | 8 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Corridors (5:50)
2. When Shadows Fall (10:02)
3. These Walls (3:40)
4. Throw Them To The Sky (5:04)
5. Sleeping Giants (4:16)
6. Good Boy Psycho (6:47)
7. Horizons (6:38)
8. Half Moon Meadow (5:17)
9. The City Sleeps (11:40)
10. Corridors Epiphany (Instrumental) (1:56)

Total Time 59:20

Line-up / Musicians

- Kim Seviour / vocals
- Rob Cottingham / vocals, keyboards
- Adam Hodgson / guitar
- Paul "Moo" Moorghen / bass, backing vocals
- Henry Rogers/ drums

- Anna-Marie Wayne / narrator (9)
- John Mitchell / guitar solo (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Adam Hodgson

CD Steamhammer ‎- SPV 309582 CD (2011, Europe)

Thanks to yam yam for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TOUCHSTONE The City Sleeps ratings distribution

(97 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TOUCHSTONE The City Sleeps reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Touchstone belong to that school of British prog that includes the likes of Panic Room and The Reasoning. In other words accessible and melodic prog with female vocals. The City Sleeps is their third album and very good it is too.

Female fronted prog bands haven't exactly been in short supply in the UK over the last decade but fortunately Touchstone are able to stand head and shoulders with the best of the bunch. Kim Seviour may not have the vocal range and playfulness of Panic Room's Anne Marie Helder but is nevertheless in possession of an impressive voice with plenty of her own character to set her apart from the crowd. Keyboard player Rob Cotingham also shares some lead vocals and is himself an impressive enough vocalist but Seviour has the edge, his own style being a little too clean cut for my taste. The band all play well with a highly proficient and solid rhythm section laying the foundations for neo prog style keyboard work and largely heavy guitar parts which often ventures in metal territory. This is perhaps what sets Touchstone apart from the rest of the UK female fronted crossover prog bands - being the heaviest and most metallic but equally sharing an ear for strong melody. This they demonstrate throughout The City Sleeps and while no track screams absolute classic the consistently high level of songwriting makes it a winner.

Prior to this release my only exposure to Touchstone was a few tracks given away on Classic Rock cd's which admittedly hadn't set my pulse racing. However having bought The City Sleeps and been able to listen to it as whole rather than random snippets has given me fresh interest to visit their previous two albums.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the third studio album from this UK band Touchstone, planned to be released in January 2012, however, thanks to Freeman Promotions I am able to listen and review it already. To be honest, this was my introduction to the band, so I cannot give you a context nor compare with their previous works (which is something good, actually), so I will only focus on the album itself. Entitled "The City Sleeps", it contains ten compositions and a total time of one hour.

"Corridors" is the one that opens the album, and since the first seconds we will notice that the band has a strong keyboard sound. After one introductory minute the female vocals appear accompanied by nice bass lines and guitars. Then the track begins to progress and show its road; after some minutes it becomes more intense and emotional. Cool first song.

"When Shadows Fall" is the first of two epics included in the album, this one with a length of ten minutes. It starts with a futuristic sound created by keyboards, I clearly imagine a spaceship in another galaxy, finding its way home, or trying to achieve something, haha, that is why I love music, my imagination really works. After two minutes there is a moment where everything stops, and then a delicate piano appears and a new structure begins. Just before the third minute the prominent keyboards appear and create what I would call modern symphonic sound (though it is reminiscent of older bands, I know), until that moment everything is perfect, but?later where vocals appear the rhythm changes and becomes really light, catchy and even poppish, but well, fortunately it is only in a short part of the track. Later it changes, slows down and takes to another place, here, on the other hand, the voice makes a beautiful sound accompanied by piano and guitars. After six minutes, now a male voice appears with a charming tone, following the music's path. The last part of the track is emotional, full of colors and elements that help us finishing our journey. What a wonderful song!

"These Walls" has a rockier style, closer to hard rock, with cool guitar and bass sound, along with great drums and keyboards. The woman's voice is actually very good, however, I can't say I love it, no, in moments I would actually prefer the pure instrumental passages. This short song is not that good, and it negatively contrasts with the previous track, which was a gem, this one is just a simple track. "Throw them to the Sky" shares a first minute of tranquility, but later it becomes heavier and faster, the guitars show their roots and inspirations. Here we can listen once again to both, male and female voices interacting and making a unit, one voice together. The song is gradually progressing until reaching its climax in the final part.

"Sleeping Giants" is a mellow track, with piano and male vocals, later female joins and begin to build up the track. That tranquility ceases after two minutes when keyboards appear and take the leading role for some seconds, however that sensation of charm prevails during the whole track, creating a strong composition that I particularly loved. "Good Boy Psycho" has a bombastic keyboard and guitar sound, accompanied by powerful drums for the first seconds, later female vocals appear and the music slows down and becomes lighter. This track has good changes in time and mood, and a diversity of sounds in every passage. What I like of the album is that rhythmical change inside the tracks, and between tracks. "Horizons" has a charming and beautiful beginning with delicate female vocals; then it changes a little bit and the rhythm increases, now with the addition of a male voice. Then it returns to its original form and then again it changes and produces new sounds and introduces several elements that make us create our own images once again; there is a nice keyboard solo after four minutes. . "Half Moon Meadow" continues with the gently and comfortably sound created by female vocals; the compositional skills of the band are really good, so far with the diversity of the tracks and their structure, that is something evident. In this song, after three minutes there is an explosive passage with a powerful sound, wonderful guitar riffs and a cool keyboard oriented moment.

"The City Sleeps" is the longest composition with twelve minutes length; it is the album's representative track, and another example of Touchstone's quality. The first introductory minute is instrumental, with nice keyboards, later vocals appear and a new structure is being built and progressing little by little. Here I like a lot the drums and its versatility, also the piano that delicately sounds as background while vocals and strings work as fore. After six minutes the song changes and retakes that spacey or futuristic sound, now with female spoken word. Later it changes again, it is like a novel and its chapters, the only thing you should do is imagine them. The album finishes with "Corridors Epiphany", two friendly minutes with a repetitive but addictive sound, purely instrumental.

Touchtone is giving us a good material, worth checking out, so when it is released, I recommend you to buy it. My final grade will be four stars.

Enjoy it!

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A quality album with symphonic prog metal and no filler.

Touchstone's "The City Sleeps" is a very enjoyable album that features an outstanding hybrid of traditional metal and symphonic prog. The musicianship and vocals are excellent throughout which ranges from beautiful ballads such as the exquisite 'Sleeping Giants', with a mesmirising duet between Rob Cottingham and Kim Serviour, to the heavy riffing onslaught of 'Good Boy Psycho'. There are some awesome riffing guitars on this album such as the chugging rhythm of 'These Walls' and it is not without some wonderful lead soloing, notably on the fantastic opener 'Corridors' and the killer lead break on the ending of 'Good Boy Psycho'.

'Horizons' is very accessible traditional rock, Kim's golden tones are balanced well with Rob's singing. They trade off taking turns on verses and duet harmonies. It is a pleasant listening experience and the music builds into heavier guitar in the break. The album is always providing metal and symphonic in equal doses without one overpowering the other. There is enough on this to appease metal and prog fans alike and that is a feat in itself. It reminds me of the kind of music from other female led acts such as Nightwish, After Forever, Epica, and Panic Room although Touchstone really have a tendency to be more ambient and focussing on beautiful melodies than indulging in a Gothic opera style. In this case the band are more like Mostly Autumn, Magenta and even Ayreon, the way the female and male leads trade off, notably in the wonderful 'Half Moon Meadow'. The lead guitar shredding is a real drawcard on this track with an amazing performance from Adam Hodgson. The keyboard solo on this from Cottingham reminded me of the way Dream Theater trade off on solos.

The album features two complex epics that are full on progressive, 'When Shadows Fall' and 'The City Sleeps', both prime examples of Touchstone at their best. 'The City Sleeps' is perhaps the best track with an odd time signature and Kim's vocals are gorgeous, joined by Rob's clear vocals. This track has a lot of variation and seems to build from a basic structure into a time sig change and it has a heavier riff than many other tracks. In the mid section the keyboards are spacey and Kim narrates some seductive space whispers, better than Gilli Smyth. The song then has a lovely ballad segment, Rob sounds terrific here, and the lead guitar motif is catchy. Kim really lets loose on some powerful vocals to follow, and the song finally ends with a blazing lead solo. Incredible song by any standard, and so delightfully similar to the work of Ayreon's duets.

This album certainly grows on the listener and certain tracks jump out such as 'Corridors' due to the oriental Arabian sounding melodies, guitar riffs, and wonderful soaring vocals. The two epics stand out of course but I am also taken with the ballads 'Sleeping Giants' and 'Half Moon Meadow'. There are no bad songs at all so this is definitely worth at least 4 stars. It is verging on masterpiece status though it didn't quite provide the complete package. In any case this is an essential listen and one of the best albums for 2011; a stellar year for new prog.

Review by lazland
4 stars There has been a lot of hype this past year or so about this talented British band, and, in fact, Classic Rock Presents Prog seems to have adopted them as the standard bearers of the new wave of prog. With all of this going on, the new release was always going to be a huge challenge in living up to expectations, and I bought it with a sense of both anticipation and nervousness, to be honest.

It opens in a rip-roaring fashion with Corridors, a good, radio-friendly track. Midway through, a lovely, gentle, guitar lilt kicks in, with imaginative keyboards and delicate vocals, before the main riff returns. There is a nice guitar solo at the close, with effective use of a drum machine, before Rob Cottingham (who shines throughout this album) joins in the fun with Adam Hodgson.

When Shadows Fall is the first of two epic tracks on the work, clocking in at just over ten minutes long. It starts with a lovely, dreamy, proggy intro, with a simple synth overlaying interesting sound effects. Instrumentally, this phase reminds me of later period Genesis. At two minutes in, there is an "all stop", before the main part of the track and riff commences, which is quite dark, with moments that are very much of a spirit of latter day works by artists such as Pallas & Pendragon. When Kim Seviour is introduced, she is wonderful, backed by a fast and heavy riff. As with Wintercoast, the predecessor album, the harmonies between her and the boys in the band are very effective. This is a suite of moods. The quieter passages delight, whilst the heavier ones keep you deeply alert. In the former, Cottingham shows just how well he can take the lead vocal duties. This is a fantastic track, which shouts out the band's prog roots and ambitions loud & clear. The close soars into a massive climax.

These Walls follows, and this is about the only real disappointment for me on the album. It's not a bad track by any means, but it strikes me as heavy rock by rote, especially Seviour here, who comes across as being slightly disjointed.

Throw Them To The Sky is more like it. Far more imaginative, with some good harmonies alongside a very effective wall of noise. Strangely enough, the second half of the track reminds me strongly of an old folk/punk band from Wigan called Tansads, who remain one of my favourite acts, and I mention this comparison very much as a compliment.

Sleeping Giants is delicate, with some nice string effects, and turns into one of the standout ballads of 2011. Cottingham absolutely shines here, proving this is not a "run of the mill" female fronted band. The man can sing as well as Seviour, and she is at the top of her game on this one. The synth lead is incredible, and Andre Moorghen & Henry Rogers provide a massive rhythm backdrop. This is a stunning track, and a highlight of the year for me.

Good Boy Psycho (a great title) is good power rock, with more than a passing nod to the mass radio market. It is nothing remarkable, but it moves along at a fair old pace and is very well played, whilst Seviour is a joy to listen to. When the track slows down and develops into a nice, pastoral, piece, it is far more effective. The bass line is incredible, whilst the remainder is dominated by a massive, and brilliant, guitar solo backed by a symphonic wall.

With Horizons, the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. I just adore the way Seviour manages to sing so delicately and full of fragility, whilst Cottingham takes the more aggressive male lead (I take the lyrics to denote a relationship breakdown), and it is all backed by a fine instrumental performance, the sound of a band enjoying every minute of playing together. All prog fans will adore the symphonic instrumental passages, as I did.

Half Moon Meadow, to me, again demonstrates that the band's strengths lie in the range of gentle, pastoral, to symphonic/neo sensibilities, rather than as a pseudo heavy prog band. This track plays to all of those strengths. It is exceptional, and feeling vocals blend with an ensemble creating a sound which transports you to a higher plain. All of this is transfused with an ear for a commercial appeal as well. This is a great track, with no weak moments at all, and a pulsating guitar solo is thrown in for good measure.

The title track is the longest on the album, and has epic written all over it. It commences with the type of pomp opening Arena would be proud of, before entering a more thoughtful, and almost jazzy, phase. There is a great deal going on in this track, giving a lie to the myth that all crossover bands do is play it simple and straightforward. This lot, it must be said, are a PROG band, pure and simple, and in this one, the heavier phases are, in contrast to These Walls, done intelligently. It never loses the listener's attention. It is also, by the way, the clear sequel to the Wintercoast story, and carries on some of that album's finer moments. A true highlight of a magnificent album.

The whole thing closes with Corridors Epiphany, a short instrumental which returns to the themes of the opener, but with a gentle, swaying keyboard solo and a clever bassline. There is some clever percussive work, before the guitar takes control, with the tempo rising all the time to its denouement. A very fine way to end proceedings.

So, is all of the hype justified with this band? By and large, I would say a clear and loud yes. Touchstone have released an exceptionally well produced and well performed album, one which, in terms of maturity, propels them leaps and bounds beyond the last album (and that wasn't a bad album by any mark). The City Sleeps has sold well, and deservedly, and it should prove to be the springboard for them to the top division of modern prog rock.

Four stars for this. An excellent album, which comes very highly recommended. The next one, I predict, will blow your minds away.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Touchstone elicited my interest only because among my many favorite prog styles, I have always enjoyed female-fronted prog-rock bands, not afraid of a little sexy rock music, especially if its vehiculated by a strong voice and some inspired playing (like Karnataka, Breathing Space, The Reasoning, Panic Room, Mostly Autumn etc?). I was worried that Touchstone may be a little too metalloid for me but its just the right amount of power and bombast, as the keys play a massive part, Rob Cottingham likes to weave some slithery synths into the melee and does so often. Plus he is unafraid to introduce the piano with regularity which is always a good sign of musicianship and creative vision. That being said, guitarist Adam Hodgson likes to rasp the fretboard with unfettered zeal, his rhythmic work really putting some steel into the arrangements. His leads are definitely in the John Mitchell/Nick Barrett line of sizzling playing, always astute and arousing. Henry Rogers drums like a rock drummer should, solid and intrepid. But the combined vocals of stunning babe Kim Seviour and Cottingham are really what make this such a consistent joyride. Finally bassman Andre P Moorghen plays with bruising bravado on all tracks, mixed nicely so we can all hear him rumble with authority. He is good, very good indeed. As far as the material on this album goes, the release has three basic variables: The great prog, the good prog and then the no-prog .

1-We have a thrilling opener (I have never heard them before, so it was crucial initial anesthesia) in "Corridors", a perfect bustling intro into their musical vision. It's followed by a massive gem in "When Shadows Fall", an epic 10 minute explosion of style that caught me completely off guard. The keys are magnificent, superb piano and whopping synths by Cottingham, who otherwise excels on sharing the mike with Kim. "Sleeping Giants" is a drop-dead beautiful ballad that has a superb symphonic edge (colossal waves of luscious keys) with excellent vocals, male and female, detailed orchestrations (plucking strings) and memorable verses and chorus. Wow! Highlight reel, please. There is another scintillating ballad here in the shape of "Half Moon Meadow", where Kim just soars with utter delight, Cottingham joining in what is perhaps best described as a prog duet , not always a successful etude. But here it's just beyond words, the playing equally superlative, as per the rousing lead guitar solo that devastates with rage and passion. I could listen to this all day. Plus a synth solo just in case you is hungry. Wham Bam Baby! The epic title track is fully deserving of its marquee status, an explosive symphonic ride that is simply beyond the norm, reptilian bass furrowing through the urban decay, whizzing along with the drums flailing away, the keys and guitars ablaze. This is why I enjoy prog, there is such a thin line between sweat and courage, so when you combine the two, you get a just listening reward. "Corridors Epiphany" is perhaps the proverbial cherry on top, a superb little ditty that is heartstoppingly astounding and finishes off the disc.

2- Decent tunes like "Throw Them to The Sky" provide a little breathing room, a pleasant track that delivers a good vibe. The ribald and lusty "Good Boy Psycho" is brash and bruising yet has a mischievous spark that grabs one's attention immediately, contrasting heavy riffs with bombastic vocals, sort of a nasty yet seductive selection. The sweet and gentle mid-section is a complete surprise with some fab effects, could wind up in the 1 category, just on the knife's edge. "Horizons" also likes to teeter-totter between the rough and the serene, pastoral one moment and bellicose the next, I guess this is what makes Touchstone tick. The rough bass line is to expire over, gritty and fuzzed out just like I like it! Suave axe solo to boot. Yeah, this is also near 1 territory.

3- Less interesting is the brief "These Walls" a more straight ahead rocker, that punishes but shows little afterglow. In the end, it does not affect the outcome at all.

This is a cool, refreshing album that will please many in the sympho crowd, the fans of female fronted bands and the metal boys/girls out there who like to flaunt their leather. I am enthralled by this introduction to my collection and I look forward to their next killer album. I also intend to give this many future spins, as there is really too much to like here.

4.5 rocky fingers

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is a strange one for me. I had previously heard Touchstones' Wintercoast album over a year ago and had not been particularly enamoured by it. I listened to it a couple of times and then quietly put it to one side. It wasn't that Wintercoast was a bad album. It just didn't do much for me. ... (read more)

Report this review (#604510) | Posted by Richens | Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have always been, to put it as gentle as I can, sceptical towards this new wave of female fronted british bands. The bands in this scene has been hyped pretty well by Classic Rock Presents Prog. Hyping bands and scenes is like waving a piece of red scarf in the front of a bull = myself. In shor ... (read more)

Report this review (#568077) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars From a promo copy... At last....finally ...the expected album of Touchstone. Yes in the first 2 albums i found Touchstone had potential to be a good band,to develop good seemed may be neo prog. The first albums showed something good but you didn,t know where they were going: . ... (read more)

Report this review (#550199) | Posted by robbob | Friday, October 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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