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THE LIFE OF THE HONEY BEE AND OTHER MOMENTS OF CLARITY

Abel Ganz

Neo-Prog


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Abel Ganz The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity album cover
3.93 | 80 ratings | 3 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity (12:37)
2. One Small Soul (5:52)
3. Arran Shores (2:40)
4. Summerlong (5:22)
5. Sepia and White (13:31)
6. The Light Shines Out (6:16)

Total Time 46:18

Bonus track:
7. One Small Soul (radio edit) (3:57)

Line-up / Musicians

- Davie Mitchell / guitars
- Jack Webb / keyboards
- Mick Macfarlane / vocals, guitars, bouzouki
- Stephen Donnelly / bass
- Denis Smith / drums, vocals (6)
- David King / guitars, keyboards (1,6), drum programming (6)

With:
- Alan Hearton / keyboards (1,5,6), vibraphone (5)
- Fiona Cuthill / fiddles & recorders (1)
- Alex Paclin / harmonica (1)
- Snake Davis / saxophone (1)
- Emily Smith / vocals (2)
- Frank van Essen / strings (4)
- Stevie Lawrence / low whistles (6)
- Signy Jakobsdottir / congas, percussion (6)
- Marc Papaghin / French horns (6)

Releases information

Label: Self
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital
Release date July 6, 2020

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ABEL GANZ The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity ratings distribution


3.93
(80 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
23%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
51%
Good, but non-essential (19%)
19%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

ABEL GANZ The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by horza
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I first became aware of Abel Ganz when their lead singer Alan Reed replaced Euan Lowson as the singer in Pallas, a favourite band of mine in the early 1980's. Pallas had played my local music venue a couple of times and I have to say that I was spoiled as Marillion, Pendragon and Solstice also graced my wee Scottish town with their prog magnificence. I must now confess that I am a fairly recent Abel Ganz convert, after having met their new guitarist, David King, at a Genesis tribute band gig.

I have been listening to this album a lot since it was released and did the fanboy thing of buying a signed copy (you have to support your local progsters). The whole package is a labour of love, from the music production all the way through to the artwork. The album is meticulously mixed by Simon Vinestock (who has apparently worked with artists such as Texas, Blur, Robert Plant and Simple Minds) and brims with class and finesse.

The album opens with the eponymous track which reminds me in places of Big Big Train and the Tangent. It is an epic, reassuring piece which just breathes progressive rock. I look forward to visiting their back catalogue and feel quite guilty that it has taken me so long to appreciate their talent.

Next up is 'One Small Soul' which features Scottish folk singer Emily Smith, who duets delightfully with Mick Mcfarlane. This is a superb track, heartfelt and uplifting, melancholy and serene. A radio edit also appears at the end of the album.

Track three, 'Arran Shores' is a paen in honour of one of Scotland's jewels, the Isle of Arran. Written and performed by David King, it is a haunting instrumental which reminds me of Newton Faulkner in places.

'Summerlong' is a sentimental, evocative piece, which conjures memories of lives and loves past. Quite sad actually. Midway a Genesis-type keyboard solo raises the tempo before the song draws to a close.

'Sepia and White' then raises the rafters! It reminds me of Magic Pie and The Flower Kings. I love the soulful keyboard solo about five minutes in which heralds a Threshold, Dream Theater-type section. The electric guitar really shines in this track. I wish I could play like that. But I know a man who can.

'The Light Shines Out' is my favourite track. I just LOVE this song. This one takes me back to my all-time favourite album - 1984's 'A Walk Across The Rooftops' by The Blue Nile. The vocals are a cross between Paul Buchanan and Peter Gabriel. This song is now WAY up there for me. It ends with a funky section which I would have LOVED to segue into a longer movement.

Do yourself a favour. Give this album a listen and be thankful that Abel Ganz produce songs of grace, feeling, emotion and hope.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An album of highly emotional, confessional, even reverential songs. One of the finest crafted albums of 2020.

1. "The Life of the Honeybee and Other Moments of Clarity" (12:38) a smooth, gorgeous, STEELY DAN-like gallivant through melodic bliss. The only flaw with this beautifully sounding song is that it could use some dynamic changes--even subtle ones (other than introducing soloists). Otherwise, this is one of my top five favorite LP songs of 2020. (23.5/25)

2. "One Small Soul" (5:52) part VAN MORRISON, part BRUCE HORNSBY or ANDREW GOLD, part GARTH BROOKS, this one has a bluesy Country-Western sound and feel to it--even the story the lyrics tell. It has a nice little interlude in the third and fourth minutes before returning to the opening form. (8.5/10)

3. "Arran Shores" (2:40) a solo steel-string acoustic guitar instrumental that sounds like a Windham Hill guitar piece. (4.25/5)

4. "Summerlong" (5:22) piano opens and establishes a DAN FOGELBERG "Same Old Lang Syne" ballad. It's very pretty, very well arranged (with strings) and touching lyrically. At 3:15 drums and bass kick in to launch the song in a new direction. Chunky bass and soaring synth solo definitely gives it that proggy feel. At 4:25, though, it returns to the opening piano with vocal to the end. (8.75/10)

5. "Sepia and White" (13:38) don't let those opening sounds turn you away, this song develops into quite a nice, well-constructed and, as par for the album, emotional song. (25.75/30)

6. "The Light Shines Out" (6:16) BLUE NILE-like drum machine with low synth wash opens the song before recorder solos. The Blue Nile reference is enhanced by the Robbie Robertson-like voice that sings the lyrics but the real ticket to seal the fact of this being a Blue Nile tribute is the use of many Blue Nile catch phrases throughout the song's lyrics--like "closing time," "headlights shining," "ticker tape parade," "radio waves," and many others. And I haven't even mentioned the other instrumental riffs and sounds that come straight out of Blue Nile songs. I can't think of a better band to pay tribute to--especially as its one that seems to receive far less praise or credit than it deserves. (9.25/10)

A pristinely composed, performed, and rendered album (one of the best sounding albums of 2020). Also, this album presents an ensemble of truly heart-felt and heart-wrenching songs--which seems rare in Prog World.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece and a very welcome addition to the Crossover/Folk side of Prog World.

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Life of the Honey Bee and Other Moments of Clarity is only the seventh studio album from Abel Ganz, veterans of the 1980's prog scene, this owing to a long hiatus which ended in 2008 with the excellent Shooting Albatross, although given that this is only the third since then, this is not exactly throwing works out at pace.

This is a shame, because this new work is really very good. The band are well and truly on the pastoral side of progressive rock, and those who enjoy thoughtful and emotional music will find a great deal to enjoy here. The overarching theme is one of memory and loss.

The title track opens proceedings clocking in at over 12 minutes long. It is a gentle affair, and sets the scene for all that is to come. Mick Macfarlane is a soothing presence on vocals, whilst there is plenty of room for solo artistry to shine, with a nice violin solo and an extended Dave Mitchell guitar piece. Altogether mesmerising, it draws you into the work as a whole before you really know that you are there, and therefore succeeds tremendously. With the "symphony of wings" lovingly described, there is a brief saxophone solo of virtuosity to close the track.

What follows is enough to melt the coldest heart. Duetting with Macfarlane on One Small Soul is the gorgeous voice of Emily Smith, and this is pure melancholy set to music. Jack Webb's piano literally cries, and the whole track has a bluesy warmth to it. Quite wonderful, and a highlight of 2020 for me.

Arran Shores, named after the Isle of Arran, home to a particularly fine distillery, is a short and emotional acoustic instrumental by David King. Close your eyes, and you are there, and, again, a piece of music which sets a mood perfectly.

Summerlong is that rare beast, an intelligent piece of music which evokes an emotional response and means whatever the listener wants to take from it. For me, the reality of my love and I spending lazy and hazy days together. The opening, dreamy, sequence morphs into a more "traditional" synth passage set against a symphonic backdrop, before we return to the lovers reminiscing. Really rather lovely and evocative.

The opening passage of the longest track at over 13 minutes long, Sepia and White, really hits you after this, because this is a rocker featuring a thunderous bass line by Stephen Donnelly. Normal service is, however, resumed with a gentle piano and the main passage intersperses this with guitar with feeling, and the colour of sepia keys, before building into a classic prog rock wall of sound. Lyrically, the I, I Remember You closing passage is wonderfully intelligent, marking the passage of time and long lost love to wonderful effect accompanied by some marvellous fret work and those bass pedals working overtime overseen by a guiding organ.

The album closes with The Light Shines Out, the most overtly Celtic influenced track, with vocal duties taken on by drummer Denis Smith, who adds some nice drum machine work here as well. The track reminds me a great deal of some of the better tracks on Gabriel's Ovo, including the vocals, and the wonderful thought of nicotine clouds takes one back to smoky, hazy, bars of yore.

This really is a wonderfully enjoyable record, and a tribute to some wonderful musicians who have stood the test of time. Very highly recommended, and an excellent addition to any collection.

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