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The Inner Road

Symphonic Prog

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The Inner Road Visions album cover
3.68 | 49 ratings | 7 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hidden Sea (6:37)
2. Day of the Sun (6:32)
3. Morning Mist (4:55)
4. Heaven (7:24)
5. Life (5:54)
6. Lost Man (5:45)
7. Night Light (3:50)
8. Dreamcatcher (8:44)
9. Visions (6:14)
10. The Lowlands (4:29)
11. Eclipse (6:27)
12. Beyond the Horizon (6:28)

Total Time 73:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Gresswell / keyboards, drums, bass, orchestration

- Phil Braithwaite / rhythm & lead guitars

Releases information

Artwork: Bruce Rolff

CD Orbital Productions ‎- ORBCD0012011 (2011, UK)

Thanks to toroddfuglesteg for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE INNER ROAD Visions ratings distribution

(49 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THE INNER ROAD Visions reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Inner Road is one of those stupendous homegrown releases that I, as a dedicated progfan truly admire and consequently constantly find myself on the constant lookout for. Far from the lavish, multi-layered productions that litter our genre, these seasoned musicians opt for the true essence of progressive music= melody, emotion and vivid soundscapes that take the listener into a fabulous world of introspection and bliss. Certainly, these gents do not aim for mass appeal, rather concentrating on finding fans that would coalesce with their vision of what synphonic prog should be. For fame and fortune, guitarist Phil Braithwaite and keysman Steve Gresswell depend on Coalition, a more commercial leaning neo-prog group with a vocal slant. In this concept, The Inner Road finds a lot in common with fellow countrymen Elegant Simplicity, a formula that relies on extended instrumental voyages that expose a myriad of tones and atmospheres, exploring new melodic concepts that seek to stamp an imprint on the listener's soul.

On the very first run through of any album, I tend to not listen too intently, so as to have some original detail leap out and seize my attention, a method that has proven its merits over the decades. On Visions, the aspect that made me look up and consistently admire were the superbly crafted melodies that saturate this 70 minute + jewel. No track goes beyond the 9 minute mark, so the restraint is most welcome. I love Italian pasta and Vietnamese soups, so I have no problem with endless noodling, even if the musician occasionally flutters into oblivion and forgets where it all began. The preeminence of the main melody is irresistible and the passionate soloing is just way beyond the norm!

From the dazzling opening seconds of "Hidden Sea", the ears pick up the tinkling synths in the style of Oldfield's stellar "Foreign Affair", clinging and clanging deliciously while Braithwaite unleashes the first of numerous solos that litter this remarkable release. The main melody is irresistible and the passionate soloing is beyond the norm. The drums are real, the bass is authentic and everything is just pure harmonic bliss, in a style reminiscent of instrumental Dutch masters Odyssice or Polish wunderkinds Lebowski. Each piece has its own distinctive stamp, such as the unaccredited female choir wailing, the spoken word samples and the sax sounding synth on "Day of the Sun", a strong Elegant Simplicity vibe here that is undeniable. Gresswell's orchestrations are slick, never heavy-handed and always accurate in keeping the mood intact. I mean that 2 songs in and you're already hooked, even if you do not pay too much attention at first, the music has a head-turning effect that is uncanny! Every piece is simply magnificent and powerful. The opening bars of synth-strings on the magical "Morning Mist" should humble the staunchest prog curmudgeon, with luminous guitar solos that recall Dave Bainbridge (of Iona fame), and as stated so astutely by 'toroddfuglesteg', a palpable British style that is undeniably pristine, evocative and yet structured.

The pace never dies off, no filler anywhere as the celestial "Heaven" shows its grace, an oboe-patch synthesizer waddles in lovingly, paving the inner road for the soaring electric guitar that scours the stratosphere. Such beautiful music! On "Life" the guitar really craves out some sonic escapades, within the realm of assorted effects and slithering synth solos, all crowned by some thunderous male operatic samples! Both 5 minute pieces "Lost Man" and "Night Light" offer more sizzling stylings that would make Tony Banks and Steve Hackett shudder with delight, liberally detailed with lush orchestrations and galloping arrangements, the music is never static or ambient. The regular use of choral orchestrations is also phenomenal, adding some detailed color to the proceedings.

The acme is perhaps reached with the torrid "Dreamcatcher", with its correlative American Native Indian sensibility, a sumptuous creative detail that I find astounding and ultimately clever, without ever falling into any New Age formulaic abyss. The musical interpretation is expressive and dreamy, deeply melancholic and utterly defined. A simple Indian flute melody is steadfastly held together by a hard beat, while the guitar slashes a few scalps mercilessly. The resulting solo is crafted with precision and effect. The contrast between the serene segments and the brazen blowouts is delicious. The title track does not relent, supporting a bright, rollicking air that wanders into various comfort zones, as always portrayed by some deft synth playing (that sax patch setting is stellar!) in the meantime, the feral axe shatters through the mellotron-like waves like some Exocet missile skirting the ocean's fury, searching out its target. Funky bass goes popping along for the mercurial ride. I mean this piece has everything to exalt over. "The Lowlands" is a heavily orchestrated tune that has a Celtic tendency (those bagpipe samples) but is topped off by an untamed and robust series of solos on the e-guitar. "Eclipse" is another selection that substantiates their craft with well thought out melodic structures and resonating sounds, perhaps more pastoral and fleeting that the previous stuff but still gushing with crafty keyboard solos and fretboard genius. Braithwaite is rambunctious even though the chorus seems celestial and vaporous. Finally "Beyond the Horizon" closes out this masterpiece with conviction and grandeur.

I thank you torodd for seducing me into getting this one with his words but this is my style of prog and I can only gushingly give this the maximum score allowed and then some, as I could listen to this everyday, forever. Fans of gorgeous melodies, expert playing and modern symphonic prog would be missing out not getting this marshaled into their collection. All I can say is that I found my Inner Road!

5 highway mirages

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK duo THE INNER ROAD was formed by Steve Gresswell and Phil Braithwaite as a side project to their main creative outlet Coalition when it turned out that the two of them both had material at hand that didn't really suit that band. "Visions" is their debut album, and was released by Orbital Productions in the fall of 2011.

If you have a general taste for symphonic progressive rock as it was made back in the golden decade of the 1970's, The Inner Road has released a CD you will want to investigate. In particular of you tend to enjoy the instrumental variety of this style. A high quality production that should find favor amongst most, even listeners as obsessed with minute details as this writer.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars The inner road is one of the most intresting and captivating bands I've come across lately. This is a young band formed around two musicians Steve Gresswell/ drums, bass guitar, keyboards and Phil Braithwaite / rhythm guitar/lead guitars, the album released last year 2011 named Visions is a killer one in every aspect. Highly orchestral symphonic album with plenty of memorable passages and inventive arrangements. They took me by surprise, never known that they sound so great. All album is instrumental with sporadicaly spoken words and excellent choruses. Visions sound like was issued in the glory days of prog, very smooth and elegant music, with long enough pieces to demonstrate that they mean bussines with this release, the album overall clocking around 70 min pure grandious music. Very enjoyble, at least 4 pieces are absolutly awesome and very intresting like Hidden Sea, Day of the sun, Dream catcher and Visions. One of the top albums in last years I've heared from symphonic prog, perfect written parts and musicianship is great. Maybe to some listners the problem will be that the album is mid tempo most of the time lacking in energy, but after more spins definatly they will change their minds, definetly a grower. Very diverse in arrangements with fascinating keyboards, guitars and some great drum parts, Visons is a winner in every way. Elegant is the main word if I'll discribe this album in one word. Another aspect is that I can't trace the influences behind this release, it sounds so good and almost original at best, a hard thing to achive these days in prog music. In the end 4 stars easy , recommended for sure, fans of the genre will love this album as I did. Very strong and a fresh air in today prog world.
Review by Warthur
4 stars Visions is a collection of charming prog instrumentals by multi-instrumentalist Steve Gresswell and guitarist Phil Braithwaite, doing business as The Inner Road. The album is clearly a labour of love and has a few rough edges here and there - the production, whilst competent enough, isn't exactly finely polished, and some of Gresswell's keyboard tones feel a little low-budget, though the duo do an admirable job of working with these limitations by crafting compositions which work well within the production constraints and sound good with the occasionally quirky keys. Reminiscent of a more ornate and baroque version of The Lens, what I glimpse in Visions gives me high hopes for the project's future output.
Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I find a little bit impossible to enjoy the debut album of the English duo The Inner Road. First and foremost, I don't really mind instrumental music, I kinda enjoy it from time to time. I just don't understand what's the point of albums like Visions (2011).

Usually, instrumental music has a way of using instruments as voices, so they speak. And no, I'm not talking about virtuosity and display of great technics. The problem with Visions (2011) is that each and every song on the album have all the blank space that usually a singer would fill in. And that's EXACTLY the problem. What's the point in making instrumental music where ever song is build as if you have a vocalist???

Steve Gresswell and Phil Braithwaite are good musicians, here their compositions are not that good, too simple and too predictable. The guitars sound great throughout the CD, keyboards are ok, basses are ok, drums (programmed ones) are just boring playing the same patter over and over.

If you like instrumental Prog that doesn't dare to go deep into music and doesn't mind with programmed drums, this one's for you. For me... it doesn't work.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While writing material for the first work of Coalition, their leader and keyboardist Steve Gresswell entered quite often more symphonic territories.At the end he felt that these recordings were not really suitable to the style of Coalition and thus The Inner Road came to life in 2011 in Reading, UK, featuring also Coalition's guitarist Phil Braithwaite.The debut album ''Visions'' was apparently a composing collaboration between Gresswell and Braithwaite and found its way into the market in October 2011, released under the management of Gresswell's Orbital Productions.

The good and the bad appear both in this album, but fortunately the positive elements are more than the negative ones.Gresswell's succesfully marked this project as a Symphonic Prog one, even if the occasional Neo Prog flourishes dominate the album at moments.12 tracks in here and all of them sound tasteful, well-composed and enjoyable with strong symphonic textures in a modern style, led by Gresswell's impressive keyboard twists and the good guitar plays of his collaborator Phil Braithwaite.Shadows of early IQ, STEVE HACKETT, Dutch veterans TRION and FLAMBOROUGH HEAD and even instrumental ARENA are evident throughout an album, which also contains lots of sampled orchestral moves, programmed flutes and maybe some Mellotron echoes as well as a strong sense of melody.Most of this material is bombastic, atmospheric and pompous with Gresswell providing a great instrumental richness with his keyboards, ranging from cinematic soundscapes to full-blown instrumental Progressive Rock, powered by his flashy synthesizers.On the other hand the computer drumming, even if it comes as flawless, sounds quite mechanical, almost robotic, while some of the programmed orchestrations are pretty thin and pale.The majority of these pieces follow the same formula, at the end sounding a bit similar to each other, making their own identity a questionable matter.However the music is played with inspiration, passion and nostalgia, offering eventually interesting, instrumental material along the lines of the Neo and Symphonic Prog genres.

You will hardly find any elements in this album, which will distinguish The Inner Road from the mass of second-wave Symphonic Prog bands.What you will find though is some well-crafted and melodic instrumental music of fine quality.Recommended.

Latest members reviews

3 stars A new and welcome addition to the symph prog scene in England. This band is a new band and this is their debut album. The musicians have a lot of experience here and I refer to the interview for the full band story. The experience though shows throughout the album. The music here is instru ... (read more)

Report this review (#568032) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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