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DARWIN

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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DarWin biography
A UK-originated 'masked' oneman unit DARWIN has hailed from the near-future virtual world, with a first single release titled "Escape The Maze" upon September 28 2018. His full-length debut album "Origin Of Species" (featuring the single "Escape The Maze") had been recorded in collaboration with a jazz rock vanguard Simon PHILLIPS as a drummer and co-producer, and released in December 2018. "Origin Of Species" features Simon (drums), Matt BISSONETTE (voices, bass), and lots of guest musicians like Jeff BABKO (keyboards, quartet arrangements), Greg HOWE (guitars), Dennis HAMM (keyboards), Ernst TIBBS (bass), Katisse BUCKINGHAM (flute, soprano saxophone), Samuel SIM (orchestral and quartet arrangements), Peter NICKALLS (orchestral and quartet arrangements), The Origin Of Species Quartet (Los Angeles), The Reykjavik String Quartet (Iceland), or The Chamber Orchestra Of London (Conductor Matt Dunkley).

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DARWIN discography


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DARWIN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.70 | 12 ratings
Origin of Species
2018
3.57 | 13 ratings
DarWin 2: A Frozen War
2020
3.97 | 10 ratings
DarWin 3 - Unplugged
2021

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DARWIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 DarWin 3 - Unplugged by DARWIN album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.97 | 10 ratings

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DarWin 3 - Unplugged
DarWin Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars After the first two albums were completed, DarWin, Simon Phillips and Matt Bissonette realised that if they stripped the albums back to just the acoustic and orchestral elements, they had something quite different indeed. Phillips set to undertaking new mixes with the exact same instruments and tracks from the earlier recordings, while Matt also recorded two new solo versions of "Slowly Melting" and "One Horizon" with just his voice and bass. The former is one of the highlights of this release, recorded as a live take with vocals and bass parts at the same time, the combination of the reverb on his vocals and the atmosphere provided by the highly sustained bass notes makes for something quite special indeed.

As with the second album, this is considerably shorter than the debut, at only 35 minutes, and was actually originally available as part of a limited edition deluxe release of 'Darwin 2' but earlier this year it was released as an album in its own right and to be honest it does deserve to be heard in its own right as the songs are very different indeed when in this stripped down and much less rocky version. It allows them to break out in a far more beautiful manner, and there is far more warmth and passion while also more restrained and delicate. I have really enjoyed all three DarWin albums to date and it will be interesting to hear how the story progresses from this point onwards.

 DarWin 2: A Frozen War by DARWIN album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.57 | 13 ratings

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DarWin 2: A Frozen War
DarWin Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Following on from the debut, 'Origin Of Species' in 2019, the second album came out towards the end of 2020. Guitarist DarWin has again joined forces with drummer Simon Phillips (Toto/The Who/Jeff Beck) and singer Matt Bissonette (Elton John, David Lee Roth, Ringo Starr) as the core unit. As with the last album he has brought in a host of stellar musicians to fill out the sound, including bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr Big/ Steve Vai/Winery Dogs), guitarists Guthrie Govan (Aristocrats/Asia/Hans Zimmer/Steven Wilson) and Greg Howe (Michael Jackson/Justin Timberlake) and keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater/Alice Cooper/Black Country Communion) along with Alex Sill (acoustic guitar) and Jeff Babko (keyboards) while The Reykjavik String Quartet also return.

The first album was a double CD event, but the second is far shorter, just five songs and 31 minutes long (although it is also available in an extended version where there are a further 9 songs as orchestral versions ? this was later released as album in its own right as 'Darwin 3' in 2021). This is a direct continuation to the debut album, where the story was set in 2028, where an exhausted ecology, and global conflicts, have led to a huge upheaval of the world order, straining, and diminishing human populations. The lives of everyday people and families have been turned upside down by the intense ecological pressures related to climate change. This polished, layered, progressive rock music with great performances from all involved ( as if we would expect anything else from these guys). The standout for me is the last song, "Another Year", which is a wonderful duet with some great female vocals (I have no idea who it is, sorry) and it is the interaction between her and Matt which really makes this shine. High class, powerful and middle of the road prog with strong songs, great performances, guaranteed to make any proghead smile.

 Origin of Species by DARWIN album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.70 | 12 ratings

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Origin of Species
DarWin Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Now, I only have a digital download, so you need to bear with me a little on this. According to the research I have undertaken, this concept double album comes with a graphic (comic) layout which also tells the story. It's roughly ten years from now into the future, 2028. An exhausted ecology, and global conflicts, have led to a huge upheaval of the world order, straining and diminishing human populations. The lives of everyday people and families have been turned upside down by the intense ecological pressures related to climate change. No longer just a theory discussed by scientists and politicians, climate change is wreaking havoc on the world. Chaos and confusion reign as fighting for basic resources continuously escalates. "Day Zero" has occurred, when nuclear attacks punctuated what had for many years been a civility between nations and people. As Earth rejects life, those of us who remain struggle to survive. It depicts the role of a changing planet, and the potential, as well as limitations, of technology to help solve mankind's greatest challenges.

DarWin himself provided the songs and some guitars, and from what I can ascertain is based in Iceland. This project started when he contacted famed drummer and producer Simon Phillips to undertake some recording, and then over time they brought in bass player and singer Matt Bissonette and there are also performances from the likes of Jeff Babko (keyboards and quartet arrangements), Greg Howe (blazing lead guitar solos), Dennis Hamm (keyboards), Ernst Tibbs (bass), Katisse Buckingham (Flute, Soprano Sax), Samuel Sim and Peter Nickalls (orchestral and quartet arrangements), The Origin of Species Quartet (Los Angeles), The Reykjavik String Quartet (Iceland), and The Chamber Orchestra Of London (Conductor Matt Dunkley). It is an ambitious project, and the website is also massively over the top and worth investigating to get some idea of scale.

But, first and foremost this may have an incredibly important story to tell (even there seem to be some important politicians in the world who forego scientific evidence and feel there is no such thing as climate change), but musically this is one hell of an album. Progressive, melodic, rock, this takes all of these elements and wraps them into the story so people will be singing this without realising just how important this is. It feels fresh, it feels inviting, and with Phillips at the back it is always being driven in the right direction. This is another album which invites the listener deep inside, deep into the thought processes of DarWin, moving from frantic riff and hook-driven rock into melodic and orchestral with nary a pause for breath. It is exciting, invigorating (and long, very long), yet the listener feels refreshed by playing this. This isn't an album to be dipped in and out of, nor something for the background, as it refuses to stay there but always moves forward and demands close attention. It is to be savoured, enjoyed, discovered, loved.

I may not have seen the full package, but the music has grabbed me since I first heard it, and overall this must be some release. Highly recommended

 DarWin 2: A Frozen War by DARWIN album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.57 | 13 ratings

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DarWin 2: A Frozen War
DarWin Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars DarWin is a progressive rock infused exploration into the future of humanity and the difficult world around us, supercharged prog metal, it says. Darwin is a collection of musicians ranging from Darwin to Phillips, Bissonette, Sheehan, Govan, Howe, Sherinian who have played in TOTO, BECK, VAI, MR BIG, LEE ROTH, ASIA, DREAM THEATER or STEVEN WILSON. It's their 2nd album coming out that features edgy tracks with heavy guitars and grooves; the musical frame leaves it in sound and progressive regions well worked.

The "Nightmare Of My Dreams" amazed me with the very texture of the piece mixing instruments including the enjoyable Guthrie solo, climates to the superbly introduced violin, 7 minutes which send you to purgatory for redemption due to a world going into an infernal spiral. "Future History" and its superimposed voices, this melodic guitar tune which makes you travel beyond the time of the said song, losing you in a meander of the most beautiful effect. "Eternal Life" intro with slide guitar à la Ry Cooder for an 80's FM track, ballad to set a stadium on fire, far from what is currently possible; easiest track to awesome or enjoyable guitar solos and synths, yours to see, that get you going. "A Frozen War" stunned me with this bewitching riff that becomes very fat and edgy, better than a good AYREON riff that is to say, a track that goes easily with a slightly simplistic declining end on the other hand. "Another Year" is the AOR or FM track from the 80s revisited with melody and chorus, female vocal addition to get on the radio waves, oh yes I forgot your own radio; aerial solo, airy, suave as the voice! The album is also available in LP with poster and covers of songs from the 1st album plus two from this EP. The album was composed separately in view of the current pandemic, all pulled together to deliver an instants-time, detailed, dramatic musical track with many progressive drawers. A heavy rock with basic choruses superimposing vocals to give more warmth and giving pride of place to individually worked solos, giving time to time. A much more complex and delicious album than it initially sounds, but considering the crowd inside it almost makes sense. Darwin makes us dream and hope it is already unexpected in these dark times.

 Origin of Species by DARWIN album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.70 | 12 ratings

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Origin of Species
DarWin Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

3 stars The Sci-Fi epic articulating this album is well-known (and has the undoubtful merit of every lucid warning): Our planet on the verge of ecological disaster, ill-advised decision "to establish control over all networks and computers on Earth" seeking equilibrium, protagonist escapes from the resultant world domination, and he/she gets back with a revolution. What can I say? C'mon people, I saw Logan's Run when I was fifteen, and it was as fine as it was enough! Besides, one (having every right) may reasonably expect to listen to a piece of music more than once, and knowing the plot doesn't help.

The music itself is good, however: great drumming by the legendary Simon Phillips in his best prog-fusion style, and nice sax soloing in that same vein. Really accomplished vocals ranging from AOR to Hard-Rock by bassist Matt Bissonette, in a style reminding of Joe Lynn Turner, blending nicely with the instruments. Very good electric & acoustic guitar interventions, and yet, some moments of heavy riffing sound a bit cliché, even dated nowadays. And, last but not least, the sinergy of piano, string section and flute adds much value for the prog ear.

Final word of advise: Listen to the warning, forget the story, sit down & enjoy.

 DarWin 2: A Frozen War by DARWIN album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.57 | 13 ratings

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DarWin 2: A Frozen War
DarWin Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Iceland based project DarWin, spearheaded by the composer and musician using the DarWin moniker as his creative alias, first came to some prominence in 2018 when the double concept album "Origin of Species" appeared. DarWin has since worked on finalizing material for his second album, "A Frozen War", which is scheduled for release in late November 2020.

DarWin presents us with a short and concise album for his second outing, featuring an array of high quality musicians that provides instruments and vocals in compelling and relatively easy going songs with a foundation in the calmer, AOR-oriented parts of the progressive rock universe but with detours to both orchestral, pastoral, hard rock and progressive metal territories along the way. The most striking aspect of this album for me is the quality musicianship, and I'd recommend this album to those who generally enjoy progressive rock explored in a more careful manner, that appreciate a fair degree of style variations thrown into the mix and most of all those who generally enjoy listening to music provided to them by a vast array of high quality musicians in the described context.

Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition.

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