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Patchwork Cacophony

Symphonic Prog

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Patchwork Cacophony Patchwork Cacophony album cover
3.41 | 13 ratings | 6 reviews | 23% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sketch of a Day (16:03)
2. No U-Turn (2:58)
3. Dance of the Fleet-Footed Heffalumps (2:51)
4. Brinkmanship (10:57)
5. Nylons for Parot (2:18)
6. Dawn Light: Prelude (2:07)
7. Dawn Light: Change in the Air (3:51)
8. Dawn Light: No Time (3:24)
9. Dawn Light: Reprise (1:42)
10. Dawn Light: We Can't Stay (3:24)
11. Dawn Light: Rest My Feet (2:07)
12. Dawn Light: Scorched Earth (2:35)
13. Dawn Light: Final Sunset (6:12)
14. Dawn Light: Twilight Procession (2:37)

Total Time 63:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Ben Bell / all instruments

Releases information

Self released CD and digital

Thanks to bhikkhu for the addition
and to aapatsos for the last updates
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Buy PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Patchwork Cacophony Music

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Patchwork Cacophony ratings distribution

(13 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Patchwork Cacophony reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I've always said i'm a music fan not a music critic, but whenever I give 3 or less stars I feel like a critic because I have to explain why I didn't give a higher rating and that becomes the focus. So it's times like this that I dislike reviewing because Ben Bell the man behind this one-man project is very talented and ambitious and has put so much time and energy into the music he loves. It just so happens my tastes don't align with the music here for the most part.

Having said all of that if your a fan of keyboard driven music then look no further than PATCHWORK CACOPHONY. Ben plays everything on here but his speciality appears to be the various keyboards he plays like the piano, Hammond organ, Prophet '08 synthesizer, Clava Nord Stage, Yamaha TG55, and Taijiguy and Emu Classic keys mellotron samples. We're only a quarter of a way through the list of instruments he plays at this point. Wow! He composed all the music and wrote the lyrics, as well as producing and engineering this album.

"Sketch Of A Day" is the 16 minute opener and it's all instrumental with piano only to start as we get some mellotron sounds and more joining in before it kicks into full sound around 2 1/2 minutes in. Lots of keyboards and a beat standing out here. A calm with piano 5 1/2 minutes in before it turns full again before 7 minutes as themes continue to be repeated. A pretty good instrumental that gets fairly intense later on before it ends like it began. "No U-Turn" is an uptempo keyboard-led instrumental. It's okay. "Dance Of The Fleet-Footed Heffalumps" is mainly keys and picked guitar I believe. Some sampled mellotron just before a minute that is like sunshine peering through the clouds. "Brinkmanship" reminds me of CAMEL at times, I think it's the organ. Piano to start then it kicks in before a minute. This is good with that organ leading the way. It picks up before 5 1/2 minutes with piano leading then the organ starts to lead the way once again. It settles before 8 minutes then rebuilds. I like the organ late. This is my favourite song of the first half. "Nylons For Parot" is a short tune with picked guitar and tapping throughout.

Next is the "Dawn Light" suite with around 30 minutes of music over nine tracks. "Prelude" features these spacey synths ala "Lost In Space" a TV show that only us old folks will remember i'm sure. Lots of atmosphere as well. "Changes In The Air" is the first song where we get vocals. Man this song reminds me so much of DISCIPLINE. Excellent track and my favourite overall. "No Time" on the other hand is my least favourite. It has vocals as well but it just doesn't do anything for me. "Reprise" is a short song with slowly played piano throughout. "We Can't Stay" has these high pitched vocals along with an instrumental back- drop that i'm not into. "Rest My Feet" has these sparse piano melodies as laid back vocals join in. It blends into "Scorched Earth" where it picks up quickly with a fuller sound. Some spoken words as well later on. It blends into "Final Sunset" where vocals arrive then we get a keyboard solo after 1 1/2 minutes before the vocals return a minute later as contrasts continue. "Twilight Procession" ends it as we get plenty of atmosphere.

A good album no doubt but one that just doesn't have enough positives for my particular tastes in music. Keyboard fans have to check this album out!

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Patchwork Cacophony is the new album envisioned by multi instrumentalist Ben Bell, featuring 14 tracks, 9 of which encompass the epic 'Dawn Light', and mastered by Peter Maher. The CD comes with a nicely illustrated book including some quirky portraits by Candy Medusa that represent the instrumental content, such as a plucky parrot perched like a plectrum on an acoustic guitar and two roosters going head to head about to press the red button to prevent a fox from devouring the other, or are they? One may ascertain that the red button releases a trap door for the other rooster to fall into the fox's gaping maw. But if they press at the same time both are certainly doomed. Included also is a delightful piece of artwork with two elephants swinging from trees adorned by a spider in a hat, forest animals dancing, ladybirds and the tired old fox sleeping beneath the trees - perhaps sleeping it off after dining on the gullible roosters. This wonderful artwork represents the whimsical track 'Dance of the Fleet-footed Heffalumps', a title reminiscent of the imaginative books of Dr Seuss.

I like the way that each song is represented by some information to alert the listener to the type of music that is being experienced and the inspiration behind each track is outlined on Bell's liner notes. The lyrics are also included and this is always a nice touch and really helps to enhance the enjoyment of the album.

The album is primarily a solo effort though had some input from others in an inspirational sense. Bell plays such instruments as piano, Hammond organ, Profit 08 synthesiser, Clavia Nord Stage, Yamaha TG55, Mellotron, drums and cymbals, fretless and fretted bass, electric and acoustic guitars, jam blocks, Timbales, congas, cowbells, telephone bells, kazoo, nylon brushes, tin cans, jingle scarves, tambourines and all vocals and multitracked voices including the Fabled Choir of Doom.

It opens with a 16 minute piece 'Sketch of a Day' that bounces between piano and synth lines with lush Mellotron washes cascading over. It builds gradually into a heavy percussive treatment. Layer upon layer of keyboards melt together with tasteful bass and drums. The organic sound and focus on piano is reminiscent of Rick Wakeman in many respects. It is very complex and dense in structure and features a grand finale of synth soaked flames flickering brightly over a choral section, Pink Floyd majesty shining through. A grandiose start to the album and one of the highlights for sure.

'No U-Turn' has a melodica instrument that bounces merrily over an effective baseline. The exuberant melody is upbeat and frolics over Hammond stabs and strong drum beats. The happy Organ sound is akin to the early Keith Emerson style of ELP.

'Dance of the Fleet-footed Heffalumps' has a flute synth and lush mellotron washes. It is a bright sound helped by acoustic vibrations. The deep bass synths are effective too in this short but loveable piece.

'Brinkmanship' opens with well executed piano played with classical flair. The rhythm kicks in with bass and drums and then a synth plays the fractured melody. This has a more progressive rhythmic feel. The catchy tune is accessible after a while and this may be one of the more memorable tracks on offer. It changes time sig and moves into a fast cadence with some wonderful keyboard finesse. The Hammond blazes over piano staccato notes and then settles into a slow melancholy steady rhythm. The sound reminded me of Procol Harum the way the Hammond organ shimmers and prominent piano is ever present. One of my favourites from this album; almost 11 minutes in length and a masterful track.

'Nylons for Parot' is a guitar laden piece with synth pads; short and to the point like a Steve Howe acoustic workout. Originally written for piano the piece works as a transition between the mini epic previous and the huge epic to come.

'Dawn Light' is an epic suite of over 26 minutes broken into many sections. This is where the album changes gears and features some spacey synths and thought provoking lyrics. In 'Change is in the Air' the verse opens with "Dawn light grows as darkness yields, sunshine falls on golden fields, all the signs of a normal day, but something pulls my mind away, can you feel a change is in the air?" The vocals are welcome after all the instrumentation. They are mixed rather low with the hypnotic piano motif taking centre stage. A synth with a retro sound enters and lifts the atmosphere.

The song 'No Time' has the repeated verse like a mantra "no time to think things over, no time to watch and wait, grab a bag and travel late, it'll all be over if we hesitate." Again the song is dominated by a keyboard motif that locks in the brain. The organ solo is enjoyable and upbeat. The Hammond quivers are fabulous and the runs that rumble add a sense of dramatic tension. It's a pity it fades out rather than segues seamlessly to the next track as this is far more effective.

'We Can't Stay' has lyrics that question our position at the crossroads when facing decisions "Where are we going? The pace is slowing, can we all slow down now? can we stop and wait? Are we nearly there yet because it's getting late." Such lyrics cause us to ponder on life itself, searching for answers and whether it is safe to go home, or travel forward or turn back. In any case it makes the point we cannot stay the way we are because it is not going to work; we must go one way or the other. I think many listeners can relate to this state of being. The lyrics resonate with me on a personal level also. The piano is played with some heavy handed stabs. The best is uptempo and the vocal style is multi layered though a bit too high in the vocal register at times. I wasn't as taken in by the vocals here but I liked the jaunty melodic sound of the keyboards.

The melancholy sound of stripped back piano and soulful vocals is on 'Rest my Feet'. It slows the pace considerably. Sounding slightly like

'Scorched Earth' is an instrumental with organ crunches and fast tempo switches. The odd dialogue is a mystery to me but seems to fit in okay.

The epic concludes with 'Final Sunset' with lyrics that come full circle but this time the sentiment is "Are we looking at the final sunset? Are we coming to the end of the line? Are we living through the final days of the world? Is this the end of our time?" Such lyrics remind me is the early works of The Moody Blues particularly their debut album "Days of Future Passed". The rhythm is strong and fast paced. The multi tracked vocals sound good here. The epic might have been better if it had been one seamless track rather than with definite breaks between tracks. I think of the works of Caravan who always segued each track seamlessly and how great that feels when one listens to those long tracks.

Overall this is a solid album from Ben Bell with some thought provoking content and inspirational instrumental pieces. The multi movement suite of 'Dawn Light' is a definitive draw card to the album but it all culminates in an enjoyable musical experience. I believe that although it doesn't quite reach the mark of other 4 star albums I have heard this year, at least in production, it still warrants a 3 and a half star rating. I will have to round it down to 3 stars as there is room for improvement here. I hope more Patchwork Cacophony albums are forthcoming as this features some excellent material.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My honorable colleague, compatriot and confidant, mellotronstorm suggested to Ben Bell, the man behind Patchwork Cacophony to send me a copy of his debut album in order to evaluate it, perhaps with more affinity than John did, as he gave an honest and appreciative review and felt that I would be perhaps a better suitor to trumpet the merits of this album. And he was right! Not really surprising in light of our past and current relationship that lives on, in suggestive anecdotes (musically. Hey!) propelled by the urge in stretching prog's bountiful borders. Thank you, Mr. Davie!

Yeah, this is my kind of progressive rock album, seduced by an opening piano motif that lights up the epic 16 minute introduction to keyboard-driven bliss, a majestic and adventurous layering of softer and wilder sections, extremely melodic and exploratory. The way keyboard prog should be, virtuoso and 'soundscapist', pushing the boundaries that have illuminated our genre and help it to survive. Ben is a wicked player, a mix of Gary Wright and Manfred Mann on the synths, as well as a classically-trained pianist that hints at two Ricks, Wakeman and Davies of Supertramp fame. "Sketch of a Day" is a thrill, a track that will demand repeat listens. The bright opening piano segment could easily have been part of 'Fool's Overture', a rather lusty but deserved accolade, as it slowly builds into a more symphonic piece, boisterous synthesizers sliding into the midst, mellotron in support, yet maintaining the focus on the piano at all times. There are some clever choir-likes crescendos that expand the orchestral grandeur and give a lot of depth and creative lineage to the piece. A melancholic piano waves a solemn good bye towards the setting sun. A truly satisfying opening salvo that bodes well for the ensuing set of tracks, particularly the lengthier arrangements.

Two mini-stylistic presentations are in order, "No U-turn" is a playful ditty, Ben Bell trying out his Booker T organ lessons and succeeding nicely. It's pleasurable, unpretentious, almost boogie-woogie progressive with synthesized mayhem and a melodica-led theme. "Dance"is a lighter, similarly brief piece that is fluffier, something Geoff Downes would do with his New Dance Orchestra, and I enjoyed the playful mechanisms that envelop the listener, a feel-good sense that is quite graceful.

But the true measure of the album remains pointed at the more successful longer tracks, so its back to another long one, the 11 minute "Brinkmanship" , a stellar ride that is quite an anomaly in that its seems so fresh and exuberant. The classically tinged piano spearheads the remaining keyboards (organ and synth) to assault the senses and create a rather bombastic, modern sounding mini-opus. The drums are kept in the background and there is nothing extravagant about the keys being so front and center. The 'ooh' backing choir thickens the plot and pads the thick mellotron mattresses while the boogie piano is once again in the spotlight. There are some Emerson/Wakeman winks as well as a few nods to Jon Lord (the organ work), the piece's development is an all-keyboard affair again, with multiple visits and revisits.

The breezy pastoral air of "Nylons for Parot" is an another nice 2 minute intermezzo, with the acoustic guitar taking up the slack and sugaring the road ahead with some delightful vibes as the segue into the album's core is next and last up, the titanic 26 minute "Dawn Light" suite. This heavenly ivory-laden behemoth is broken down into nine nimble sections, with the wind-swept synths leading the gorgeous "Prelude", a perfect electronic opener that would make even the great Vangelis envious. On the next section "Changes in the Air", the piano hogs the stage again, with Ben Bell's voice supplying some drama to the worried lyrics, as the drums muscle onward. The jumpier "No Time" has a jagged edge, brusque and raging when need be, steered by bruising bass and relentless organ flurries, Ben Bell's reedy voice has tinges of Guy Manning and gives the lyrics some meaning. The brief piano "Reprise" has a child-like innocence that cannot go unnoticed, as it's utterly compelling. "We Can't Stay" slings into another direction quite unexpectedly, fusing incorrigible Gentle Giant-like counterpoint vocal harmonies and once again giving the stage to some deft piano work. It's fabulous for me but I can see why mellotronstorm would cringe a little bit. On "Rest my Feet", Bell intones his exasperated exhaustion convincingly, a subtle vocal and sterling piano accompaniment that makes this wee section a real treasured highlight. Contrast that with the squeaky insanity shown on the aptly-titled "Scorched Earth", featuring a squirming synth that is just out of this world, voice effects in the background! Now elevate that to a higher notch with the propulsive attack on the 6 minute ramble "Final Sunset", a featured e-piano solo that has a busy clavinet sound to boot, a great slice of intricate keyboard-driven prog rock. His Manning-tinged voice does well again, reaching high spots that are confusingly adroit, under the circumstances. The suite ends with the melancholic grandeur of "Twilight Procession" and that is exactly what is conveyed, a sense of gentle accomplishment and a keen eye on the road ahead.

Though showing a few 'raw' moments (which I happen to admire a lot in a debut work), there is a huge talent at play here, an artist that has successfully displayed his craft and can only get even better with his next effort, perhaps finding instrumental partners that may heighten the already lofty stylistics at hand here. The lengthy pieces are superb entertainment and underline a quality musical mind at work. The piano playing is thunderous and the sound is majestic.

4 makeshift discords

Review by aapatsos
3 stars My first acquaintance with Ben Bell's work was back in 2013 with the "debut" album of Fusion Orchestra 2, an excellent example of long heavy progressive rock compositions. Here Ben takes it on his own to create a much more symphonic progressive rock album, keyboard-laden and mostly instrumental.

For a one-man job, Patchwork Cacophony is impressive, full of original ideas, talented keyboard playing and two major moods: the dreamy (even spacey) 70's symphonic rock side (mainly influenced by Genesis) and another, much more jazz/funky one, which counterbalances the melody with more dynamic passages and keyboard lines. Ben experiments with all sorts of keyboard sounds, from moog to organ, piano and so on. See for example the "trouble-free" No U-Turn, a tune to accompany you to your summer drives across the coast. The two moods interchange often and the track lengths as well, offering the right amount of variation.

Dance of the Fleet-Footed Heffalumps does what it says: a folksy/dreamy atmosphere on acoustic guitar and flute driven sounds, perhaps somewhere in the middle of the woods with Gryphon lurking in the background; Nylons for Parot flows in a similar vein, proving a nice interlude before the multi-part Dawn Light. Brinkmanship is perhaps the highlight with a playful main theme which does not tire, no matter how many times it is repeated. It follows a melodic piano intro, similar to how the album opens in Sketch of a Day. In fact the two tracks are very similar in the way they evolve, with the former being the flagship of the funky side of Ben and the latter the more melodic, Genesis-inspired, earning even more points by its grandiose ending.

The Dawn Light suite starts off with an Eloy-inspired theme but continues with two parts accompanied by Ben's vocals, in a mid-tempo rocking background, the more impressive of the two being No Time. The jumps between reprises and rock tunes continues throughout the duration of the suite, with Scorched Earth taking me by surprise by its dynamic, swinging keyboard riff. The underlying Deep Purple influence is confirmed in the melodic hard rock tune Final Sunset; I would expect you be up and dancing by now, while the Purple/Heep organ solos rage on. Not a very coherent suite all in all, but certainly with enjoyable moments.

Apart from the excellent keyboard work and surprisingly good performance on vocals, the rest of the instrumentation/arrangements are fairly basic and are there to support, rather than create, with the drum arrangements perhaps in need of the most improvement. However, this does not affect the professional work produced in this album. This is the second album I get to listen to this year that has such a high level of keyboard talent and ideas, the other being Unreal City's sophomore release.

Is it the era of keyboards? We shall see - this is certainly a great way to start a solo career.

3.5 stars. Highlights: Brinkmanship, No Time, Scorched Earth, Final Sunset

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Ben Bell might be an unknown name in prog circles, but belive me he is one great keyboard player that worth to be discovered worldwide. Around 2007 he got the chance to play with Fusion Orchestra 2 on their debut Casting shadows from 2013 - a reincarnation of Fusion Orchestra (a good british band from early '70s) revived by Colin Dawson. Soon after he begun to work on his solo album and the first offer was out in 2014 named Patchwork cacophony. The album is quite good from start to finish, with nice shifting keyboards arrangements and pleasent yet nothing spectacular vocal parts. I can say that Patchwork cacophony is heavy keyboard driven prog yet quite melodic in many parts, combining symphonic prog with crossover prog, jazzy interplays, all done with taste. Lush arrangements and instrumental sections are far better then the vocals, if it was entirely instrumental I would give a higher rate. Anyway to me the second half of the album is better, meaning Dawn Light" suite covering almost 30 min of great playing and intresting instrumental melodic duels. A nice discovery for me after I've listen to Fusion Orchestra 2, Ben Bell worth to be more known in prog circles , his debut and contribution on Fusion Orchestra 2 is without doubt more then pleasent to my ears. 3.5 stars for sure. Nice intresting art work and booklet.

Latest members reviews

5 stars It's been a long time since I listened to a new prog album where I enjoyed everything but this fits the bill. Starting with Sketch Of A Day, a little concept album in itself, I find myself looking forward to the next musical style twist with each new track. I adore the mellotron sound on Dance ... (read more)

Report this review (#1339840) | Posted by comfy_chair | Sunday, January 4, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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