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Geoffrey Downes

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Geoffrey Downes Geoffrey Downes & New Dance Orchestra: The Light Program album cover
4.26 | 20 ratings | 2 reviews | 35% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

- Symphonie Electronique :
1. Prophecy (3:44)
2. Mountain (1:16)
3. Majesty (3:12)
4. Softly (3:12)
5. Funkrati (1:24)
6. Megalyth (1:58)
- Oceania :
7. French (1:54)
8. Daybreak (2:24)
9. Steam (1:31)
10. Surfin' (1:27)
11. Polar (1:14)
12. Seapeace (2:30)
13. Stellar (2:28)
14. Spring (3:14)
- Ethnic Dances :
15. Bourée (1:46)
16. Merrydown (2:43)
17. Jigtime (0:47)
18. Jethro (1:47)
19. Finale (1:30)
20. Ice Dance (3:12)
- East West :
21. Shooters PNO I (4:08)
22. Chopstik (2:35)
23. Synthcry (1:54)
24. Bazaar (1:48)
25. Indosax (1:30)
26. Shooters II (2:50)
- Urbanology :
27. Groundfunk (0:32)
28. Geoffunk (1:34)
29. Stevie (2:32)
30. Curryclub (1:01)
31. Safari (2:45)
32. Redrap (2:48)
33. Regiman (2:54)

Total time 87:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Geoffrey Downes / composer, producer

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Glenn Travis Associates

CD Geffen Records ‎- 9 24156-2 (1987, US)
CD Blueprint ‎- BP216CD (1996, UK) Remastered

LPx2 Geffen Records ‎- GHS 24156 (1987, US)

Thanks to SouthSideoftheSky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy GEOFFREY DOWNES Geoffrey Downes & New Dance Orchestra: The Light Program Music

GEOFFREY DOWNES Geoffrey Downes & New Dance Orchestra: The Light Program ratings distribution

(20 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GEOFFREY DOWNES Geoffrey Downes & New Dance Orchestra: The Light Program reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Ethnic dances

In 1986 Asia was on hold and Geoffrey Downes found himself on his own. This situation gave him the opportunity to record his first solo album for which he adopted the moniker of The New Dance Orchestra. There is no orchestra here, however, and neither is this by any means dance music. Rather, what we have here is an electronic symphony of sorts, with everything done by Geoff himself on his multitude of electronic keyboards and acoustic piano.

The Light Progam consists of five long tracks ranging from 11 and a half to 16 and a half minutes in length. All of the five movements are packed with strong melodic ideas and despite the album's considerable running time of well over an hour, Downes still manages to keep the listeners interest throughout. Admittedly, it is quite possible that this music could have sounded even better than it does had Geoff hired a real band to back him up. Some real drums, some bass guitar, and perhaps some electric and acoustic guitars could probably have done wonders. However, what is here is surprisingly good and the programmed drums sound surprisingly lively and Geoff succeeds well in mimicking other instruments with his plethora of synths and keyboard instruments.

What carries the music forward is the melodies that are here in abundance. No part overstays its welcome but moves into something new just at the right times to keep things fresh and exciting. The melodies are varied and there are many different styles and sounds perfectly interwoven to form an appealing musical tapestry. I especially enjoy the several ethnic and folky elements.

Of course this music cannot be compared to that which Downes had made with Yes or Asia, but it does compare very favourably with many other keyboard players' solo efforts and you can hear how Downes is influenced by Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman and how he in turn influenced Erik Norlander whose Galactic Collective album is a reference point here.

Downes' best solo album and an excellent album of its kind!

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of prog's finest attributes is that the fan and the artist can have different opinions on the music created, proving that beauty is in the ear of the beholder. As fans and reviewers, we are constantly faced with decisions based on whether an artist or an album is or is not prog. Steve Wilson is perhaps the current prog standard bearer but he is adamant in describing his music in non prog-rock terms, which many of us find odd and yet amusing. Yes, I have opinions too, for example, I believe that genial acts such as John Foxx, Ultravox, Mick Karn and Magazine should be included in progworld but there is a serious argument by some collaborators against it. Well so be it!

So I was thrilled to bits in seeing Geoff Downes being added to the prog universe, even though his credentials with the commercial side of prog may turn a few heads (Asia, Downes/Wetton and the recent Yes meanderings) , the truth remains that his debut New Dance Orchestra album, "the Light Program" has been one of my all-time masterpiece selections, owning both LP and CD versions to my utter delight. I never thought it would be welcomed into the progressive community, because it may have been perceived (wrongly) as a dance/electronica monstrosity that may be closer to Depeche Mode or Blancmange, even though there are no vocals on this recording whatsoever.

In my humble opinion, "The Light Program" is as fundamental to modern keyboards as the celebrated "The 6 Wives of Henry VIII" by Rick Wakeman (see review below, how is that for timing, eh?), a solo work of phenomenal melodies that immediately grabs ones attention for ever more. The synthesizer work is simply outstanding, the bass synth beyond belief and frankly, the programmed percussion is some of the finest ever recorded. The arrangements span a wide variety of styles from symphonic bombast, electro-funk and medieval-tinged folk balladry to almost calypso-like patches that constantly astound. What makes "the Light Program" so tantalizing even after so many years is the editing, a long suite of brilliant snippets of genius that never bogs down into repetition (a common occurrence with electronica). The brief piano melody on "French" is sheer scintillation lasts only a couple of minutes but what a thrill! Same can be said for all the other tracks as well, an endless river of stellar sounds and creative expression that boggles (Buggles?) the mind! There are a few series of pieces such as the fore mentioned "French" that leads through quite a convoy = the stunning "Daybreak", the slick "Steam" and the cosmic "Surfin" , a cavalcade of shimmering beauty.

This segue style is repeated a few times , such as with the 5 part section that starts with the peaceful "Bouree" , and lingers on with the pulsating "Merrydown" , the Irish lilt of "Jigtime", continues on with the playful "Jethro" and the stimulating "Finale" and ends with cinematic "Iceman" . Totally refreshing synthesized pleasure! The kicker is the final section that has the glittering and ultimate melodic beauty of "Shooters II", followed by "Groundfunk", "Geoffunk "and "Stevie". All of these gems strive for a sense of sonic accomplishment that still holds my attention after nearly 29 years of continuous replays. The final "Regiman" is electronic reggae that will make the coconut trees sway in the warm Caribbean breeze.

One of my all-time favorite recordings, a sheer monument in the progressive pantheon.

5 sunlit agendas

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