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THREE COLOURS DARK

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Three Colours Dark biography
THREE COLOURS DARK were founded as a new project from Rachel COHEN and Jonathan EDWARDS, and their first writing / recording collaboration in the 16 years since their partnership as two of the founding members and main songwriters of the award winning original line-up of KARNATAKA.

Following the dissolution of that line-up in 2004 both continued to forge independently successful musical profiles, Rachel with The Reasoning and Jon with Panic Room and Luna Rossa. THREE COLOURS DARK sees the pair reconnecting to build on their professional achievements to date by delivering an album of fresh new music that has nods to their joint past but is determinedly forward looking.

Their debut album "The Science Of Goodbye" was recorded and engineered by Panic Room producer, Tim HAMILL, who also plays guitar and bass throughout. Rachel & Jon also asked some special guests to add their talents to the mix and the album features performances by Dave GREGORY (XTC / Big Big Train) and Chantel McGREGOR on electric guitar, Steve BALSAMO (ChimpanA / The Storys) on vocals, Kate RONCONI (The Rag Foundation) on violin and Nathan BRAY (Paloma Faith / Mike Rutherford) on trumpet & flugelhorn.

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THREE COLOURS DARK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.13 | 26 ratings
The Science Of Goodbye
2020
4.32 | 10 ratings
Love's Lost Property
2021

THREE COLOURS DARK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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THREE COLOURS DARK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Ordinary World
2021

THREE COLOURS DARK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Love's Lost Property by THREE COLOURS DARK album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.32 | 10 ratings

BUY
Love's Lost Property
Three Colours Dark Crossover Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

3 stars Restrained, Aching, Wistful

Two Veteran Musical Compadres Brood About Love

In this achingly lovely sophomore release by Welsh duo THREE COLOURS DARK comprised of veteran musicians Rachel Cohen (vocals) and keyboardist Jonathan Edwards- both with extensive musical resumes- lyrically and musically address the vagaries of 'love' in its many guises.

Classical Greek thought identified eight kinds or varieties of love- which means to me that this is a complex subject, and of course even a few moments' thought might bring to mind a wide variety of songs about love. "Burning Love". "Love is Strange". "Love is Like Oxygen". "Love Stinks". And so on.

CAN Love Be Lost?

And if so, where did it go? Is love like energy- it never diminishes yet takes different forms? "Where is the Love?". These are the concepts that propel the music on this brooding, melodic, lush album- and I take it on faith (since I didn't have access to the lyrics) that the parts I COULD understand dealt in rainbow fashion with a number of facets of love and relationships.

Music

Most striking on this album is the sense of brooding wistfulness, vulnerability, and sensitivity. Rachel's voice is clear, pure, and straightforward. No vocal theatrics or burnishments. No harshnesses or gimmicks. I was at times reminded of early Clannad.

Jonathan's keyboards provide stately, lush, mystic walls of synths, organ, piano, and keyboard effects, all of which are prominently featured.

(Almost) third member Tim Hamill, who adds acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and programed drums, plus a variety of guest musicians utilizing oboe, saxophone, guitar, violin, and additional vocals embroider and add depth to the core songwriting skills of Cohen and Edwards.

Music Takes Time

That is to say, the music unfolds at a leisurely, measured pace. There is never a sense of hurry. The mood does intensify at times, yet emotions are subtle and require careful listening to fully grasp. I was reminded of an artist I knew years ago who worked closely, carefully, nearly obsessively on her pieces, and was challenged by an instructor to LET LOOSE, to THINK BIG and to ENLARGE THE SCOPE.

I had the impression THREE COLOURS DARK could stand some of that challenge. Each track is lovely and haunting, and at times I longed for some fire and less restraint- something I heard only in "Eye For An Eye", where guitars get a little heavier, there's a bit more boldness, and intensity is a bit more obvious.

Sum It Up

Absolutely gorgeous, thoughtful, restrained crossover progressive rock music (although there were times I wondered about this designation), with carefully and meticulously constructed compositions done with great care and skill. The chief caveats for me would be that all-in-all I wanted a bit more fire and abandon, and perhaps more overall variety, since there was a kind of similarity in the feel, the sound, and the atmosphere in each track.

My Rating

Three point five moody, tender stars meaning "Good" to "Excellent" as an addition to your progressive music collection.

 Love's Lost Property by THREE COLOURS DARK album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.32 | 10 ratings

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Love's Lost Property
Three Colours Dark Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Although not a native Welshman, I have been living here long enough to feel a certain sense of pride at the achievements of local bands. It is no exaggeration to state that the finest performers in South Wales are undergoing a renaissance, and one of my top three albums last year was the debut collaboration between Jonathan Edwards and Rachel Cohen, namely Three Colours Dark, without forgetting the intrinsically important role played by producer and multi-instrumentalist Tim Hamill.

When I wrote my review for their excellent debut, The Science of Goodbye, I expressed a hope that this would be the springboard for a longer collaboration, and now, a mere 18 months later, I and the many appreciators of class music who enjoyed that album have gotten a wish fulfilled with the release of the sophomore album, Love's Lost Property, which again, in addition to the main protagonists, features the return of guest musicians such as Dave Gregory, Steve Balsamo, and the richly textured violin of Kate Ronconi.

Indeed, it is her wonderful haunting tone which introduces us to the new work on the opener, and title track, before we are treated to a vocalist in the prime form of her career. Rachel Cohen has a beautiful voice, capable of those vital swings between ethereal wonder, sparse beauty, and menacing power. She has never sounded better and combined with a song-long guitar solo this 8-minute plus track is thoughtful, evocative, and simply a lovely infusion of melody and progressive leaning music.

Lyrically, the album continues the themes of the debut, but, I believe, concentrates more on the aftermath of that journey, the coming out of the darkness into the bright light of life. The second track, Dark Before Dawn is a bluesy number with rich inflections, with a particularly lovely keyboard underpinning the rhythm section which itself supports more evocative guitar and Cohen vocals. Just about as good as modern day prog-influenced blues music gets.

Requiem is simply gorgeous. What Edwards and Cohen do so well is present the listener with something as deceptively simple as a piano loop overlaid with a well-sung story before surprising us by introducing one of my favourite musical instruments, namely the classical oboe, played with aplomb here by Catherine Tanner-Williams. Delicate, but powerful, I rather wish this were a longer track, but this is a minor quibble.

Last Day on Earth follows, a smouldering diary meditation on our fragility and ultimate mortality. There is a further burst on this of the type of blues guitar that Gilmour would have been more than happy to put his name to, and the orchestration accompanying the centre-stage of Cohen is a delight. The closing passage raises the tempo profoundly.

Wish I Wished You Well is another thoughtful piece, with Cohen vocally soaring over a clear piano, before Ronconi returns with that lilting violin of hers. Reflecting on love's aftermath and the pain inflicted on Cohen by the subject, this is just about a powerful a ballad as you will hear this year. Music does not need to be played at 120 decibels to be powerful. This is power, and it segues into The Circus, another meditative piece on the soap opera which is life and love featuring more of that beautiful violin at its heart and a toe-tapping underscore. As the sounds of the circus itself close, we are introduced to the new single which has been available on YouTube and Bandcamp for a couple of weeks now, Ordinary World.

Now here we place before you a wee bit of advice. Be openminded. Ordinary World is a cover, and what is more, it is a cover of a single released by those lovely looking lads of the 80's and 90's, Duran Duran. Yep, that's right, those New Romantic heroes of yesteryear, and there will be many reading this review who will wonder just what on earth it is doing on a progressive rock site. Well, believe it, and enjoy the sound of Three Colours Dark rocking out and creating an expansive wall of sound. The track itself was written by Simon Le Bon as a tribute to a dead friend and was performed memorably with Pavarotti at a WarChild benefit concert. Personally, I think that Duran Duran were a decent band, and their offshoot Arcadia's Election Day was one of the finest complex pop songs of its era. This is a track which will live in your memory for a long time. Symphonic opening, violin, foot-tapping rhythm which opens in much of the vein of what preceded it. Three and a half minutes in, we have some deep and dark effects backing Cohen before we listen to a wonderful guitar solo which leads us into the final couple of minutes. The guitar screams, the tempo and sound are expansive, and, yes, about as good a progressive rock track as you will hear in 2021. Open mind and open ears, ladies and gentlemen. The final bars will linger in your head for a long time to come.

The penultimate track is Eye For An Eye. Coming in at almost six minutes, I can only describe this exceptional piece as dangerous. It exudes a sense of dramatic menace throughout, Edwards' keyboard work especially provoking that sense at the opening segment and Cohen means every single word when she gracefully, but powerfully, talks about moving on. At the mid-point, you simply gawp at the speaker as Steve Simmons brings to the party his tenor saxophone. The final two minutes is about as loud and powerful as it gets with Cohen and Balsamo competing, and a guitar spitting out its anger. Really quite brilliant and exhausting, we are then allowed to come down from this feast with a reprise of the opening track and more wonderful violin and a lovely paeon to the treasure that is Love's Lost Property from Cohen.

This is an album which delights more with each listen. It is most definitely to be filed in that drawer marked "grower". As with all exceptional music, it demands patience and appreciation of the listener, and those of you who love female-fronted melodic prog will be all over this and your patience will be richly rewarded. It has it all. Haunting melodies, blues-infused passages, symphonic prog, classy musicianship, crystal clear production and the sound of an ensemble at their peak.

Here on PA, reviewers are duty bound to award a rating out of five. The debut I awarded four stars. This is very much a progression from that wonderful debut, and it is, therefore, given five stars. It really is an exceptional piece of work which strikes a deep chord within me, and I know it will for those of you reading this who share my musical tastes, which I hope are eclectic in the true meaning of that often misused word.

The physical album is available from Burning Shed from 6 September, and you can also download it from Bandcamp. I might also add here that the cover painting is worth the price of a physical copy alone.

My thanks to Three Colours Dark for providing me with an advance digital copy for the purposes of this review. I am off to Burning Shed during my lunch break to get my CD!

 The Science Of Goodbye by THREE COLOURS DARK album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.13 | 26 ratings

BUY
The Science Of Goodbye
Three Colours Dark Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Three Colours Dark is another one of those world-class releases that will go entirely unacknowledged by the prog world at large, a sad reality that will be challenged here and now. I have relied on a number of reviewers on PA and elsewhere to identify otherwise unidentified jewels that might fit into my wheelhouse and over the decades, "lazland" has never let me down, not even once! His review was the torch -lit parade that led me to a cursory investigation of who would be behind this debut album and that sort of sealed the deal. I am a big fan of female vocals in the prog realm, as they consistently outshine many of the males in my opinion, so bands like Karnataka, Mostly Autumn, Iona, Chasing the Monsoon, Panic Room, The Reasoning etc... are perennial favourites which I return to often and happily. Jonathan Edwards is a killer keyboardist and composer, while Rachel Cohen has a heavenly voice that can modulate with the absolute best of them. Talented multi-instrumentalist Tim Hamill, magical vocalist Steve Balsamo, BBT and XTC stalwart Dave Gregory adds a guitar part, as well as guest guitarist Chantel MacGregor all contribute to the grandeur. Throw in some trumpet, violin, flugelhorn to fill out the sound. I pride myself on having an open mind with prog, as many internal styles do appeal to me, but I have a melody fetish that never gets satiated and when I land on artistry that is overflowing with it, I find myself under an eternal spell. This is one of the reasons Celtic, folk and medieval music from various countries has influenced my tastes since the very beginning. From the very first notes of the spectral "Enter Soubrette", the stage is set for a gripping voyage into 'melody-land' that never let's go, no veering off into fluff or filler, just one sensational melody after another. While the structure does remain the same, the songs do vary within that framework, each one showing unique characteristics and varied arrangements. That first violin note just stamps this with genius, the elegance of humility blends with the crystalline voice and the haunting lilt, the passion highly evident and boldly displayed. The flow just meanders ahead, one lovely track after another, each with its own sliver of personality and genius, as well as attention to the slightest detail. Jonathan uses the piano as the main instrument in his arsenal, a beguiling instrument when played with such emotional technique. Tingling e-piano introduces "Wonderland", a liquid reverie shuffled along by a wistful bass-drum-guitar groove (all Hamill), intense lyrical content and magnificent vocal work (Rachel on lead and Steve backing up) , all swathed up in a melody that will stand the test of time. A sizzling burst of e-guitar provides the coup de grace. Indeed, how can this be love?

The piano guides the atmosphere on "Know You Now", a moody, jazzy and evocative ramble, essentially a piano/vocal duet until the trilling trumpet solo makes its glorious appearance, all combined, a colossal showcase. Intense lyrics only add to the thrill.

The cinematographic "Ghosts in the Wind", a simply splendid cover from the famed Richard Thompson catalog, is where Dave Gregory gets to flick his wrist on the fretboard, in unison with the dreamy e-piano and underlying grand piano. The vocal is lavish, then mood ethereal and the impact sorrowfully profound. It is about at this point that I had come to realize the grandeur of this work and how its just going to stay this way until the last second of the final track! The title track is crushingly beautiful, in the true sense of word, a mixture of purity, devotion and sincerity. The combination of choir and violin, the epitome of soothing luminescence in a symphonic folk setting!

The rolling "Tasted like Kryptonite" is another whopping performance in the level of modulation and control displayed by Rachel, doing a faded backing vocal intermezzo with aplomb, all merging together with great conviction. OO lala! "Rainbow's End" shines the light on Kate Ronconi's soaring violin work, the softness just a pretext to kick for the stars. Because as entertaining as the preceding tracks have been, I found myself dumbfounded by the remaining three, a trio of masterpiece tunes that clearly define the quality of this breathtaking release. "Blood Moon Rising" just raises the bar even higher, delivering a vocal performance for the ages (this could be a golden buzzer on BGT!) but the groovy organ solo as well as MacGregor's searing axe spot steal the show instrumentally. I mean, really! Can it get better than this? Answer: "Monster"! A full-fledged prog workout, a highly effect-laden, sinister in spirit, choir infested slash of musical genius that deliberately evolves into a volatile, explosive and bombastic crescendo of powerful emotions. Holy molly!

After all of the bewilderment induced up to now, it is only fitting to finalize the opus with a lovingly pretty 'goodbye', with parping brass underlying positive feelings and the violin searing the skies. Let us just hope that the science of goodbye can now apply to the pandemic virus.

And to parallel my friend Lazland, I also wish nothing more than another chapter in this stellar collaboration, as it sits exceedingly high on my mantel of prog masterworks. This album lies currently as number 6 on my 2020 list and it is not going anywhere, unless perhaps even higher!

5 Crimson shade trios

 The Science Of Goodbye by THREE COLOURS DARK album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.13 | 26 ratings

BUY
The Science Of Goodbye
Three Colours Dark Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Three Colours Dark is a new project with keyboardist Jonathan Edwards (Panic Room and Luna Rossa) and vocalist Rachel Cohen (formerly of The Reasoning) rekindling their creative partnership from Karnataka, alongside Panic Room producer and collaborator Tim Hamill, who makes for an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist.

The resultant album, The Science of Goodbye, is available from Burning Shed and as a digital download on Bandcamp.

Before discussing the album itself, it is very much worth mentioning some exceptional contributors to the album. Dave Gregory, formerly of XTC and Big Big train lends his unique guitar to a cover version of Richard Thompson's Ghosts In The Wind.

In much the same way as Rachel Hall has added a deep and lush sound with her violin playing to BBT, so has Kate Ronconi of alt-folk outfit Rag Foundation here, and certainly fans of BBT's more introspective moments will find a lot to please them on this album.

Completing the line-up are Welsh singer Steve Balsamo (who has played the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar), Nathan Bray (who has played with a host of jazz outfits plus one Michael Rutherford) on brass, and Chantel McGregor (whose work I have heard being featured on Planet Rock radio) on guitar and ebow.

From the gentle synth passage, and particularly lush violin of Ronconi, leading into the unique voice of Cohen on the opening track, Enter, Soubrette, you know you are in for a treat. A Soubrette is a female stock character in opera, and the lyrics on this provide the introduction to the whole theme of what is, at its heart, a cathartic lyrical and vocal performance by Cohen, whose voice has simply never sounded, in turns, so fragile, pointed, and haunting as on this work. She truly excels and is reason enough to go out and buy this album alone.

And said theme? Narcissistic abuse, that of the emotional and psychological pain inflicted on a person by a narcissist, and, as the definition implies, a lot of this is extremely raw. If you thought that Waters was the byword in tearing open internal emotions and repression, then think again, because this work is deeply personal and heartfelt throughout.

Of course, such a lyrical journey is but nought without some fine music. Edwards has long been, to these ears, a fine musical creator, and he provides his trademark soundscape to this album. Hamill proves no slouch, either, as his guitar riff on Wonderland (How Can This Be Love?) proves.

So, this album is not merely an outpouring; it has at its heart all the musicianship that you know and expect from South Wales' finest collective prog exports.

Jon's exquisite piano looping behind Rachel's vocals, and the dreamy jazzy introspection of Know You Now.

I mentioned before the cover (all other tracks being co-written by Edwards and Cohen) of Thompson's work, this from his superb (not difficult ' all of them are) album, Across a Crowded Room. Cohen's intonations are spot on, without ever being derivative, and Edwards provides the perfect haunt to a ridiculously lovely Gregory performance playing a 1963 Guild Duane Eddy guitar.

Standout track for me is Three Colours Dark. Emotional, raw, beautifully sung with added choir by Cohen, Edwards adding classy electric guitar, Hamill with a pulsing bassline, and Ronconi reintroduced with her ethereal violin. Thoughtful progressive folk-tinged music at its most provocative.

Tasted Like Kryptonite has a jazzy edge to it and features the three main leads only.

Rainbow's End evocatively speaks of wounds so raw, and I cannot think of a better musical accompaniment than the singing violin leading the vocal, synth, and guitar harmonics.

The gift that Edwards, especially, has in creating catchy, 'prog-pop', tunes is highlighted strongly on Blood Moon Rising, with its strong chorus, and this features a great guitar riff from McGregor, who proves she can rock with the best.

The mood on Monster, as the title suggests, is foreboding. This is a dark track, full of menace, led by the soundscape Edwards creates, with the questions asked by Balsamo, and the permanently bleak guitars, bass, and drums of Hamill leading up to a brilliant rock out in the final minute and a half.

The album closes with the title track, an altogether brighter affair. This is a sensible closer, because here the catharsis realises itself. Cohen has rediscovered everything and is made again. In tone, certainly, this does remind me very strongly of Made Again from Brave, the end counterpoint to the testament which preceded it. Apart from Gregory & McGregor, the collective performs with Cohen & Balsamo singing in harmony, and all contributing to a foot tapping finale, with something of a pomp attached to the violin, trumpet, guitars, and rhythm. Very enjoyable and impossible to classify excepting under the tag 'damned good music'.

I thoroughly enjoy this album, which will be on my playlist for years to come, as, of course, are the albums of the bands which make up this collective. What is certain is if you enjoy Karnataka, Panic Room, Luna Rossa and the vocal contribution to The Reasoning by Cohen, you will find much to enjoy here.

Very highly recommended and awarded an 'excellent' four star rating. I, for one, hope that this is but the first in a series of such collaborations.

My grateful thanks to the band for providing a cd for review purposes. This is also an opportunity to give a 'shout out' to illustrator Karl James Mountford who has done a fine job on the visual side of the cd.

Thanks to lazland for the artist addition.

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