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Geoffrey Downes

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Geoffrey Downes Geoffrey Downes & New Dance Orchestra: Electronica album cover
2.63 | 5 ratings | 2 reviews | 25% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Shine On (4:33)
2. Forgiven (4:25)
3. Movin' On (4:33)
4. Rainbow's End (3:25)
5. Breaking The Spell (4:15)
6. Love Is Not Enough (5:19)
7. Jinx (4:39)
8. Hanging By A Thread (3:52)
9. Remember The Day (4:37)
10. Dance To The Music Of Time (5:35)
11. Walking Through The Fire (3:17)
12. Golden Days (3:51)

Total time 52:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Geoffrey Downes / performer, composer, producer
- The New Dance Orchestra

- Anne-Marie Helder / lead vocals

Releases information

CD NDO Records ‎- NDO CD 002 (2013, UK)

Thanks to SouthSideoftheSky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GEOFFREY DOWNES Geoffrey Downes & New Dance Orchestra: Electronica ratings distribution

(5 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (25%)

GEOFFREY DOWNES Geoffrey Downes & New Dance Orchestra: Electronica reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Vox humana

Geoffrey Downes has to date released four full-length albums under the name "New Dance Orchestra". These four albums are rather different from each other. The best of the four is by far the 1986 debut The Light Program, an all-instrumental, keyboard-driven symphony in five parts. The second best New Dance Orchestra album is 1999's The World Service, likewise an all-instrumental work. 1992's Vox Humana was more of a song-based album with various guests singing lead on different tracks. This brings us to the present album, released in 2010, entitled Electronica. Comparing this to the previous three New Dance Orchestra albums, the most similar is Vox Humana in virtue of this being a song-based, vocally driven album.

The vocals on all 12 songs are handled by Anne-Marie Helder who has a fine voice. Downes himself stands for keyboards and programming. There are no other musicians involved and there are no real drums on this album and neither is there bass, guitar, or any other instruments. The songs are not poor as such, it is just that this is not the kind of music that I want Geoff Downes to make. Electronica is 100% pure electronic Pop music with absolutely nothing progressive about it. As such, it bears no relation whatsoever to Geoff's previous solo albums or to his day jobs in Yes, Asia or even The Buggles.

Best avoided!

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My only peeve with prog-rock critics is the common reviewing fallacy (in all spheres of music BTW) that seeks to highlight and hammer at: WHAT a musician SHOULD be creating, instead of what they ARE creating. I have always felt that premise to be quite an arrogant and misplaced entitlement, giving the writer some kind of divine perspective on something that does not belong to him in the first place. It's not his muse, nor his inspiration. It belongs uniquely to the artist. Therefore my view has always been based on the quality of the work for what it is, not what it should have been! Many long-careered artists have faced this stupid tendency, be it Jethro Tull's electronic phase (Under Wraps), Oldfield's more new age stuff or even Tangerine Dream's 90s 'fluffier' production. What do you want Thick as a Brick, ad nauseam? Tubular Bells VI? Really?

Geoff Downes is probably one of the most controversial and thus ultra-targeted musicians in prog, still slandered by the 'buggling' Video Star label, still maligned by the Asia AOR slant and unjustly reviled by many as a sell-out. Perhaps that is true in a multitude of ways but his keyboard playing has been superlative on albums such as the 2 Buggles albums, Yes' Drama and more expressly, the dazzling display on the Light Program, the New Dance Orchestra's debut work. The disc remains a sensational example of modern keyboard-driven symphonics. Hey, Geoff has laid a few poor releases, of that there is no doubt but so is life, artistic life in particular. 'You can't always get what you want' was a clever Stones lyric (a rare event IMHO) that should argue against any undue criticism. Yes, 'Electronica' is pure electro-pop, much like acts like recent Midge Ure ('Fragile'), the still urgent Depeche Mode and past wonders like The Beloved, Telex or John Foxx. Intelligent electronic pop music is still better that the slop available on the radio, no? Two great attributes crown this disc: firstly, Ann-Marie Helder is a sensational voice, famous for her work with Karnataka, Panic Room, Luna Rossa, Mostly Autumn, Steve Hackett, Fish, Dave Kilminster, Parade and Tigerdragon. She is my favorite PROG vocalist by a long shot. Secondly, Geoff really does create some stunning melodies throughout and the man has incredible talent on his keyboards.

The end result is to judge for what this is and not what we the fans would wish it to be. There is a lot of good stuff interspersed with little details that suck, best exemplified by the opener 'Shine On', a sublime melody with a perfect delivery from Ann-Marie, great main melody and production but irritated by sloppy 'whoop-whoop' synth loops that make it sound like an old Madonna outtake and then the rather puerile lyrics that do kind of grate on the ears. 7

Then you have a perfect pop song like 'Forgiven', where all is pardoned due to a crushing melody, a heavenly chorus and a mesmerizing searing in the soul. This is one hell of a great song, simple, effective and memorable. 10

'Moving On' shuffles along convincingly, just a bit too accessible but Helder really uses her rich voice brilliantly, you just can't help admire her immense talent. 8

Back to utter sonic beauty with the subtle 'Rainbow's End', a truly lovely melody and a whopping lead vocal that would leave anyone shivering, the synths are breathtakingly haunting while the mechanical percussion is well- conceived. 10

'Breaking the Spell' is very close to the Beloved, a smartly played pop song with dance tendencies, very radio/club friendly. Choppy e-drums and slippery synths rule the roost. 8

Things get interesting with 'Love Is not Enough', a lover's lament at the obvious disappointment of a failed relationship, Geoff's piano glides amid the synthesized carpets, blown away by Ann-Marie's powerful and convincing vocals, full of soul, pain and despair. 9

'Jinx' is quite fun, a slight change of pace and mood that sits well within the flow, a more brooding melody and a quirky synthesized delivery that hints at New Muzik at times, echoing electronic patches , and another conclusive vocal performance from the Helder. 9

The mood shifts once again into a slight more experimental slant with the more dramatic 'Hanging by a Thread', still very commercial but sharply performed, giving the impression that this has been heard before somewhere, sometime. That wee native Indian riff is quite clever and the arrangement gets more room to develop. 8

'Remember the Day' is another top notch tune, pushed by a strong bass synth riff, colliding synth riffs, very electronic and something Madonna would have done with William Orbit in tow. Helder's voice nears a whispering pant which is extremely attractive, seductive and downright sensual. 10

The dance floor shakes with the suave onslaught of 'Dance to the Music of Time', a moody shakedown of pouting lips 'moving to a beating drum', a searing chorus punctuated by a shrill mellotron sound, clanging keys and stunning rhythmic pulses. 10

'Walking through the Fire' continues the melodic onslaught, delivering another divine melody and a masterful display of a voice that understands emotion and feeling. Simple but hypnotic, accessible but utterly pleasing. 9

The much-maligned disc ends with 'Golden Days', a Downes'led piano that thrills mightily, evoking Wakeman at his finest while Ann-Marie convinces us once again with a lovely performance. 10

Though I am a devoted and dedicated progman and have certainly the credentials to prove it, I cannot help to be swayed by wonderful melodies and then be totally seduced by a voice that makes my knees shake. It must be the stupid romantic in me, influenced by the sweet honey of unrequited love. It all started with those 'chansons de geste' I was subjected to in French school! That being said, this will do fine when I have a lightweight day in mind, maybe some cuddling or caressing with my little lady, if I am a good boy!

Am I 'Forgiven' ?

4 pop soda synths

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