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Chroma Key

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Chroma Key Dead Air for Radios album cover
3.99 | 203 ratings | 25 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Colorblind (4:51)
2. Even the Waves (6:33)
3. Undertow (4:49)
4. America the Video (4:29)
5. S.O.S. (5:24)
6. Camera 4 (3:49)
7. On the Page (4:21)
8. Mouse (5:10)
9. Hell Mary (4:02)

Total Time 43:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Kevin Moore / vocals, keyboards, bass (1,2,6-9), co-producer
- Jason Anderson / guitar
- Joey Vera / bass (3-5)
- Mark Zonder / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Esther Mera & Kevin Moore

CD Fight Evil Records ‎- FE001 (1998, US)

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CHROMA KEY Dead Air for Radios ratings distribution

(203 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CHROMA KEY Dead Air for Radios reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kevin Moore obivously chose to do something completely different when he left Dream Theater. I think the term Space Rock fits best, although this has nothing to do with Pink Floyd, I don't even think there's any guitar involved. On second thought - there are guitars involved, but only in the background. The main instrument on this album is the piano, and lot's of keyboard textures - and samples.

It all creates a soothing ambience of sound. Moore's voice get's a little dull sometimes, he rarely uses any advanced phrasing technique - it's a strange mix of talking and singing. That - and the lyrics - remind me of Roger Waters a little bit.

I give this album 4 1/2 stars - I really can't put my finger on it, but something is missing for this to be a masterpiece. It's very good though, and really deserves to be more popular among prog fans than it apparently is.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars I've never felt excited about doing a review like I am for this record.This album shows the genius of Kevin Moore, and I will also say that this is one of the deepest records i've ever heard. If you have heard it a few times and dismissed it, please give it careful attention, and many spins. I spent quite a bit of time with this record over the Christmas holidays a couple of years ago, and subjected my family to it as well. They felt it was PINK FLOYD influenced. Kevin had helped out FATES WARNING on the "A Pleasant Shade Of Grey" record, and Mark Zonder and Joey Vera return the favour forming a very strong rythm section. I don't no who the guitarist is but I can tell you that the lead guitar is not the focus, mostly adding to the fulness of the sound.

The first song "Colorblind" is a fan favourite. It's a slow atmospheric tune with crisp drumming, electronics and piano. And of course Kevin's reserved vocals that sound amazing. "Even The Waves" is a little more intense than the opener, with similar melodies, great song ! "Undertow" opens with drums and a cool guitar melody. This is an uptempo song with the drums ever present and Joey doing his thing on bass."America the Video" has a catchy beat and electronics throughout. More beautiful piano melodies from Kevin. "S.O.S." has a gorgeous piano intro with a monologue then singing. "Camera 4" is all samplings. "On The page" features great lyrics and vocals, with piano throughout. The genius of Kevin comes through on the final two songs.

The song "Mouse" apparently got it's inspiration when Kevin was visiting a friend and saw a mouse in the guys house. Well some time later this friend phones Kevin, leaving the actual message that is heard on the song on Kevin's answering machine. By the way Kevin thanks the mouse in the liner notes. This may sound confusing but the lyrics Kevin sings on "Mouse" are the lyrics given for the next and last song "Hell Mary" a song that has no lyrics in the actual song. The brilliance for me is that the lyrics sung on "Mouse" are about a relationship that has ended, and the actual song the lyrics are given for "Hell Mary" is a song that features a woman witnessing the end of the world and telling us what she is seeing. It is so powerful and real, but the connection is that when relationships end it feels like the end of the world ! Incredibly spine tingling. Oh, and the "Mouse" song that has the phone message on it is hilarious ! To paraphrase he says "Now I know i'm not crazy, the f***ng mouse is back, and he's in the radiator eating a f***ng dorito, and he's looking at me, i'm going to f***ng kill him !" This is just so funny, no wonder Kevin saved it.

This is a masterpiece !

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars A classy mixture of ambient and pop sensabilities, induced with copious amounts of electronic experimentation, "Dead Air for Radios" is an artistic and entirely listenable release by Kevin Moore.

This album is slick and highly produced, performed at an easy pace and with understated musicianship. Many songs slink their way through one's ears, their inticing mixture of styles and airy grooves catching one's attention every now and again, but for the majority of the time simply filling the space with very cool sounds. His lyrics and singing voice are generally bland, but fit into the clinical tapestry of sounds nicely. There are a few rousing moments, like in the upbeat "On the Page", but for the most part "Dead Air for Radios" is an exercise in style and subtlety. Very rewarding, and very unique.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Another belated thank you to my esteemed colleague sinkadotentree for stoking my interest and subsequent hunt for Chroma Key's alleged masterpiece. Even though I can claim to have an above average knowledge of prog, there are always artists that I have never heard, for a myriad of misconceived reasons, which shows precisely how precious a resource PA is. I am no great aficionado of Dream Theater. Not my quite my mug of cocoa! Maybe because I never cared much for Yngvie , as well as other "see how good I can play" maestros such as Stanley Clarke, Alvin Lee or Keith Emerson. The massive thumbs up from PA reviewers made the quest to eventually purchase this recording an inexorably growing impulse. In reading the comments, it was clear that the context was quite remote from the metal genre and even in its proggiest version. In fact, it is closer to John Foxx, The Legendary Pink Dots or Thomas Dolby than Symphony X, Fates Warning or Rhapsody. This made my appreciative pleasure even more exalting, because Kevin Moore has courageously "progressed" into a very personal electronic art-rock vein which is not only extremely successful but also highly worthy of the praise it has received. His keyboard work is less symphonic colorings (as with his former gig), quite clearly in a more Kraftwerkian vein with metallic "Kling Klangs", almost industrial rhythms, filtered vocals, electro-whispers , assorted samples (Yes, some are quite funny, Mouster Davie!) but enhanced with real drums, some lead guitars and real bass. The lyrical content, the somber vocal delivery, the rather gloomy overall tone all combine to make this a highly melancholic, brooding , almost dark set of electro-prog of the highest caliber. Extremely disturbing and very original psychedelic-electronic music. In my mind, this is more dream theater than Dream Theater! I guess Kevin got it right. 5 fizzling dials
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Dead Air for Radios" is the debut full-length studio album by US ambient/atmospheric pop/rock artist Chroma Key. The album was released through Fight Evil Records in December 1998. Chroma Key was formed in 1998 and is essentially a solo project for keyboard player Kevin Moore, who is probably mostly known for being the original keyboard player in Dream Theater, but also for his involvement with O.S.I. and Fates Warning. Kevin Moore had already recorded a demo in 1995 under his own name, but opted for a name change to Chroma Key.

Although Kevin Moore was a central figure in Dream Theater and the creation of their unique sound, he never cared much for touring and didnīt embrace his celebrity status with joy, so he called it quits after recording his parts for Dream Theaterīs 3rd full-length studio album "Awake (1994)". He was replaced by Derek Sherinian for the tour supporting the album.

In that light itīs maybe not surprising that the music on "Dead Air for Radios" is not loud and flashy progressive metal, but instead a laid back, mellow, and pleasant ambient/atmospheric type of pop/rock. The only thing Kevin Moore did with Dream Theater, which remotely resembles the sound on "Dead Air for Radios" is "Space Dye West". The atmosphere is melancholic, the playing and the singing subtle, and the omnipresent piano and keyboards pleasant and well composed.

The material on the 9 track, 53:28 minutes long album is slightly one-dimensional in terms of atmosphere and itīs not exactly dynamic either. Emotionally monotone is probably a valid description, because even though there are plenty of melodic themes on the album, they arenīt hook laden, and therefore very few tracks on the album stand out or are memorable after the album has stopped playing. The most aparte track on the album is the electronic almost techno inspired track "Camera 4", which is also one of the highlights.

"Dead Air for Radios" is very well produced although the drum sound could have prospered from a more organic tone. Overall itīs a nice laid back atmospheric pop/rock album and a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I see it burning in the sky... it is a red ball of fire...

Also a household name in the prog community, Kevin Moore will likely never be able to shake of his ex-Dream Theater tag that's followed him around for so long. Even if the music that he makes could not be further removed from his old band at all, most people might come marching into his other project expecting a similar sound. However, as mentioned before, these people are likely to be let down. Chroma Key is Moore's first solo venture and it really sounds like he was trying to do something different. More of a venture into electronic psychedelica than a prog-metal affair, this is a spacey album who's overall ''darkness'' factor is a little more than overwhelming.

Characterized by piano, synths and Moore's voice, this was obviously a project where he intended to show off his strengths. He does so very well, because while he may not be the best singer in all the land he certainly knows his limits and stays well in them. His voice often comes off as hypnotic, and I remember the first time hearing it wondering if they had added a constant effect to it. They haven't in all cases, the man simply sounds like a computer. This is a good thing though, because his voice suits the music just so and he doesn't ruin it by trying to be flashy. Comparisons to other bands here are not easy, but the easiest comparison (perhaps obviously with the ability of hindsight) is to his future project OSI but without the guitars. Perhaps a more spaced out and electronic, guitarless Tool would also be a fair comparison for those who haven't heard Moore's other projects.

The songs themselves are rather short, there's no sprawling compositions here to speak of. All of the songs as well are quite evenly matched and stay within the confides of a (kind of) set theme, as well, they're quite catchy with some memorable hooks without becoming too simple for the proghead to enjoy. Ironically, between all the computers and the computer sounding voice there is a very real emotion to be had behind all the songs. Even in the computerized spoken word coda Hell Mary there is a terrible sense of fear and sadness given the context of the words and the ambient music in the background. This is the most extreme example on the album of course, as it's more of an outro than a song, but the real songs on the album do much the same thing. The for example the amazing On The Page, one of the highlights of the album, here we have a delicate piano melody led by Moore's mechanical voice and given life by some very melancholic lyrics that all combine with a good hook to create something very special. Other standouts on the album include the opener Colorblind, the frantic drum beat of Undertow, the accusing America The Video and the haunting Mouse.

While hesitant to give this one a full five meaning 'essential' since some people may not be able to enjoy the electric feel of this album it is certainly an amazing disc which deserves a spin by everyone wanting to give it a shot. If you enjoy dark music driven by keyboards then look no further. People who find something to like about this one but think it needs to be heavier should definitely look up OSI. Highly recommended, this one gets 4.5 cameras out of five. Very near perfection, and an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars It took Kevin Moore some time to deliver a follow-up to his DT experience. Some three years after having left the band, he delivered this album (on his own label).

As mentioned previously, the music featured here has nothing to do with DT: it deals more with electronic and sampling than anything else. This means that it sounds somewhat cold and impersonal.

Some tracks are just bearable and draw this album on the down side ("Undertow", "America The Video"). Actually, there are hardly a great song out of this debut album; I would say that the Floydian "Even The Waves" is the closest one to come to this standard.

When I listen to "SOS", I wonder if he was not calling out for help: this is flat and uninspired and those samplings sounds are truly indigestible during "Camera 4" which sounds more as an experimental and dull number than a true piece of music.

Moore can't be considered as a great vocalist either, which makes this album just an average experience. At times, some more pleasant melody like during "On The Page" is welcome, but let's face it: we are far to be in front of a masterpiece.

If you are in for artificial sounds, this might be for you. But I don't feel a lot of interest for such an album. The repetitive and boring Mouse together with the indescribable "Hell Mary" definitely put this album on the lower rating side.

Two stars.

Review by jampa17
4 stars An unique journey... each time you play the CD...

To be completely honest, I'm sure must prog fans could hate this album, but non could denied the talent and the master mind of Kevin Moore... sure here there are not guitar solos, not a single one, there's not long epic songs, is difficult to listen a heavy driven guitar... this is just... different... but great in every department...

The album is oriented to piano, moody ambient and a lot of electronic samples. All works to make the journey very unique. The slow motion start of the album is perfect to set the mood... a lot of samples, piano and a very robotic-feelingless voice... just great... cause the lyrics are very cleaver, mental and left without too much emotion... but you have to feel the music, let you surrounded with the ambient to really discover what he really means... is very tricky and very ethereal...

Ok, for the prog fans... if you listen to the prog rock is cause you have an open mind -sure, must don't, but it suppossed to be- you might enjoy this strange journey... your'e warned, there's no long heavy fast music.. this is ambient-rock... or space-rock... that you should dive in to get a chance... but depends a lot in your mood... is better to hear at night, with the lights off... jajaja... but i'm being serious... really... and hear it as a whole piece... 'cause sometimes takes a while to dive in... for me is great, maybe one of my favorites albums... but for prog fans... I say.. .4 stars... 'cause it really woth it...!!!

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I got into Kevin Moore's Chroma Key project via OSI. A logical entry point as Chroma Key is also keyboard and song-oriented, it has no musical connection whatsoever to that band Moore had left a few years earlier.

For fans of OSI, this band has the exact same song creativity and rich keyboards on offer, be it without any guitars. But they aren't missed. The piano, samples, synths, subtle drum rhythms and Moore's poignant vocals have the focus, building lush arrangements with a pervading dreamy melancholic mood we all know from Pink Floyd. The keyboards are never showing off any virtuosity but they are very functional and inspiring. Next to a few instrumentals, the songs all have verse chorus structures and display qualities that could convince Floyd fans as easily as lovers of Depeche Mode or even the Cure. Highlight tracks worth checking out would be Colorblind, Even the Waves, Undertow and On The Page.

With his first official album, Kevin Moore reveals he's more than just a keyboard player, his song writing skills along with his limited but touching voice make this into a most charming little album. Recommended to fans of The Wall and anybody else looking for some really great melancholic music.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This is prog-lite. Space rock...mmmm there might be some resemblance in a few places that can't really be considered ambient, but in actuality it is more like prog related music with very few prog elements. Not that it's a bad album, it's mostly quite enjoyable, but there isn't much on here that is very challenging. I don't mind Kevin Moore's voice, in fact I find it very recognizable and must say that I enjoy it more in his work with O.S.I. The fact that this album is drenched with piano and keyboards is also a great thing and probably the reason I enjoy it more than anything.

Most songs are upbeat with straightforward rhythm and meters. There is a little experimentation on "Mouse" and "Camera 4", but the music doesn't develop much or lead to anything very interesting. But there is a lot of enjoyment to be had in the music if it is taken as a prog-lite album. As much as I would like to find some challenge to the music, it doesn't really happen.. So, in short, I find the album enjoyable but not progressive enough to be interesting. Good, but not essential.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Let it never be said that Kevin Moore lacks artistic integrity: after departing from Dream Theater during the Awake sessions, he could have gone for the easy money and simply churned out something imitating the commercial hit style of Images and Words, but instead he followed his own muse and established Chroma Key, a space rock project. After producing a range of demos over the next few years and lending Fates Warning a hand in realising A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Moore would release this album to unleash the Chroma Key sound on the world.

That sound, to me, sounds a bit like where mid-to-late Pink Floyd may have ended up had they scaled back the spotlight on Dave Gilmour's guitar work and made the keyboards more prominent. (The vocals even kick off doing the whole "singing through a telephone" thing that Pink Floyd-inspired groups seem to love to do.)

It's all rather pleasant stuff, and at its best is rather relaxing, but at the same time I can't find it in myself to really have especially strong feelings about this album; it's competent enough, but it's just kind of there, and it's in that awkward space where it's ambient enough to be forgettable but not quite ambient enough where that's sort of the point.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars 'Dead Air for Radios' is the debut studio album by Kevin Moore released in December of 1998, under the moniker Chroma Key - a record on which Moore displays his creative interests and sonic desires in a way that is entirely sincere, sheltering, calming, and appealing, delivering an eclectic short collection of electronica-inspired songs, even better, an eclectic collection of very personal musical shards.

Moore is well-known as the original keyboard player for Dream Theater, from the times when the band was under the name of Majesty; also, as a collaborator and a band member (for a short period of time) of Fates Warning, as well as the leader of the experimental progressive metal project Office of Strategic Influence (or O.S.I.), where he shared songwriting duties with his fellow friend Jim Matheos, Fates Warning's very own guitar maestro. Also involved in some soundtracks, Kevin Moore is a very interesting creative entity, and I can surely proclaim that he was on top of his game on the Chroma Key albums.

'Dead Air for Radios' can be very generally described as a mellow rock album, but that would be insufficient to effectively depict with words all that is going on. In fact, 'Dead Air for Radios' is an album rooted in electronica, one of the primary interests of the enigmatic keyboardist, as well as atmospheric rock. The most vivid trace of this record is the fact that it is absolutely nostalgic, slow-paced, and embracing, giving a strong indication that Kevin Moore is a masterful creator of moods and settings, sonic settings that let the listener tune in for a soundscape-like ride through the weird but curious stories that this man has to tell.

'Colorblind' is the opening song on the album, one of the most recognizable and memorable songs from Moore, I think. It definitely has a touch of pop to the overall style of it, something that is not so typical for the mastermind behind Chroma Key. 'Even the Waves' is one of the atmospheric, experimental tracks. 'Undertow' is another very strong number; It is generally hard to assign some sort of label to any of the tracks, as they are very different from anything else that is circulating in the broad landscape of prog; Moreover, the Chroma Key project sounds nothing like Dream Theater or O.S.I., or Fates Warning, it is a very unique creature!

Other highlights are definitely the haunting 'Camera 4', an intelligent instrumental patchwork of otherworldly keyboard sounds and voice recordings, probably from a movie or a radio show, 'On the Page' with its lovely piano riff, very reminiscent of 'Space-Dye Vest' that Moore wrote while in Dream Theater, and 'Mouse (Now Watch What Happens)', another haunting composition.

'Dead Air for Radios' is not an everyday listen, or a necessarily uplifting one; it is also not your typical prog album, if it is a prog album at all! What I think it is, is a very ominous and personal collection of songs that require the listener to lay down and embrace himself in the genial mind of Kevin Moore, and just to listen and contemplate.

Latest members reviews

5 stars After listening to the side projects of Kevin Moore (OSI and Chroma Key) you can only discover that he is a complete genius and a master in playing the keyboards and composing. Sometimes I wonder why Dream Theater decided to leave him. Was it because of the musical direction intended with his ... (read more)

Report this review (#1035597) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Sunday, September 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you're coming at this from a Dream Theater point of view, then, if you hadn't already realised, take note that this is very, VERY different to Moore's work in the prog metal band. The closest Dream Theater song to the style Moore shows in Chroma Key is Space-Dye Vest from Awake. Dead Air for R ... (read more)

Report this review (#203397) | Posted by Una Laguna | Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I decided to pick this up based on the rave reviews and the strength of the song "On The Page." It is a good song though not a great one. Unfortunately nothing else on the album is as good or better. If I had to sum up Chroma Key's sound on this disc in one short phrase I would call it "prog's a ... (read more)

Report this review (#176306) | Posted by epignosis11 | Monday, July 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Here it's when it comes real. This is minimalistic.This album sure is repetitive, but I still like it. If i had to discribe this music, i'd say its space oriented, with lots of FX (noise), resembling Kronos Quartet and John Cage in some way. The dominant instrument is naturally the keyboards, f ... (read more)

Report this review (#103725) | Posted by Revan | Tuesday, December 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Kevin Moore leaves Dream Theatre after doing an amazing job and what would someone expect him to do would be to create a solo album close to what he did with DT in order to keep a fan base. However Kevin Moore doesn't seem to care much about all that and what he does is record a minimalist and ... (read more)

Report this review (#100393) | Posted by sularetal | Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Kevin Moore's first Chroma Key projects sends a profound message to his fans that he's much more than the ex-keyboardist from Dream Theater. Sick of the style of substance all to common in prog-metal, Moore creates a bare bones, minimalist album, devoid of anything resembling a solo. This ambi ... (read more)

Report this review (#88513) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Wednesday, August 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars this is exactly the reason that made Kevin Moore leave Dream Theater... fed with tech music and wanting to create a keyboard centered band (which means a solo project with session musicians) takes the risk and creates Chroma Key... the risk is not only that he left the hottest prog name at ... (read more)

Report this review (#86073) | Posted by toolis | Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Thanks to, I was able to extensively explore this album (along with all his others) before decideing to purchase it. Let me just say that I had mixed emotions at first. I am a huge, HUGE Kevin Moore fan. I loved his work with Dream Theater so much that I knew I had to find ou ... (read more)

Report this review (#76492) | Posted by KansasRushDream | Thursday, April 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars OHHHHHHH BOYYYYYYYY(i know its the third or fourth time i say this, but im only reviewing masterpieces today) It's a extremely soothing soundscape, that can take you inside someone's elses life for a few seconds, thanks to moore's master use of samples with voices and noises and everythin ... (read more)

Report this review (#38135) | Posted by | Friday, July 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Obviously, a very different approach from Moore's work back with Dream Theater, but he opened his own doors to his own sound of something much more artistic and creative. Chroma Key is a "love them or hate them" kind of band, but it takes a musical mind to understand such music. Moore really i ... (read more)

Report this review (#26677) | Posted by slavetothestix2 | Wednesday, May 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars YES! I did read the message saying "now think about this once again, dude, you can't give every "great" album 5 stars" - but if I had to choose a score of records to give 5 stars, I'm pretty sure this one would be one af them. My greatest problem is, that I find it extremely hard explaining wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#26675) | Posted by von Phanoe | Saturday, March 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars a record that shows a more matture player and composer, leaving all of the influence of his previous band (dream theater), and focusing into a more melodic, ambient oriented music. Songs like Undertow and On the Page follows more structured arrangements than anyb other past compostitions; the playin ... (read more)

Report this review (#26673) | Posted by | Wednesday, April 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The solo effort of Dream Theaters ex-keyboardist is the last thing you'd expect from someone who used to play in a band renowned for their instrumental excesses and drawn-out songs. It serves more effectively than any words Kevin Moore could have uttered to explain why he left the band. DAFR is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#26672) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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