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ELEGANT SIMPLICITY

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Elegant Simplicity biography
Practically a one-man band, ELEGANT SIMPLICITY is headed by composer, arranger, programmer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Steve McCabe. Their material is highly keyboard- and guitar-oriented melodic prog that will alternately remind you of CAMEL, GENESIS, The ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, The BEATLES and Mike OLDFIELD. Between 1992 and 1995, McCabe released 7 instrumental cassettes and then hired vocalist Ken Senior (from neo-prog band EVOLUTION), along with a few guest musicians who appeared on subsequent albums. Since 1996, the 'band' has released practically one album a year.

No one cassette from the first era particularly stands out (although "Inside the Hurting" and "Endless Longing" feature no guitar whatsoever). The band's better vocal cd's are "Architect of Light" and "The Nature of Change" - the latter is mostly made up of straightforward 80's neo-prog tunes but also includes an interesting 43-minute instrumental suite. As for purely instrumental albums, the recommended ones are "Purity and Despair", which blends folk themes with jazz and some classical bits, and "Anhedonia" featuring Streven McCabe as sole instrumentalist once again. The band clearly favours soft ballads although doesn't shun a much more aggressive approach on the epic tracks. The flaws: some numb programming (drums) occasionally spoils the ambience and the melodies, a little too lengthy at times, aren't always captivating.

Recommended if you like simple, smooth melodic prog like CAMEL, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and ODYSSICE.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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AnhedoniaAnhedonia
CD Baby 2004
Audio CD$13.47
$13.39 (used)
AquatoriumAquatorium
Proximity Records
Audio CD$22.49
$15.95 (used)
Architect of LightArchitect of Light
CDBY 2011
Audio CD$34.44 (used)
Moments of ClarityMoments of Clarity
Proximity Records 2006
Audio CD$22.49
Nature of ChangeNature of Change
CD Baby 2007
Audio CD$22.49
$4.86 (used)
Nowhere Left to TurnNowhere Left to Turn
Proximity Records 2006
Audio CD$22.49
PalindromePalindrome
CD Baby 2003
Audio CD$15.47
Reversal Of TimeReversal Of Time
Proximity Records
Audio CD$22.49
$18.51 (used)
The Story Of Our LivesThe Story Of Our Lives
Proximity Records
Audio CD$18.00
$18.00 (used)
Studies in HeartbreakStudies in Heartbreak
Proximity Records 2005
Audio CD$19.90
$22.48 (used)
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ELEGANT SIMPLICITY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Improper Advances
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Nocturnal Implications
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Blinded By Time
1993
0.00 | 0 ratings
Inside The Hurting
1994
3.00 | 4 ratings
Crying To The Future
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
Endless Longing
1994
3.00 | 3 ratings
Natural Instinct
1995
3.25 | 4 ratings
The Nature Of Change
1996
3.00 | 3 ratings
Reversal Of Time
1997
3.72 | 12 ratings
Purity And Despair
1998
3.48 | 8 ratings
Moments Of Clarity
1999
4.00 | 7 ratings
The Story Of Our Lives
2000
2.59 | 6 ratings
Palindrome
2001
3.25 | 12 ratings
Architect Of Light
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Aquatorium
2004
3.80 | 5 ratings
Anhedonia
2004
3.51 | 3 ratings
Studies In Heartbreak
2005
4.00 | 3 ratings
Nowhere Left To Turn
2006
3.43 | 6 ratings
Too Many Goodbyes
2007
3.97 | 10 ratings
Unforgiving Mirror
2013

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 2 ratings
As It Was
2010

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Vignettes EP
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
Enraptured E.P
2014

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Improper Advances by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Improper Advances
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars Elegant Simplicity is basically all about Steven McCabe, a multi-instrumentalist from the United Kingdom, who started this project in 1992, as long as he launched his first ever release ''Improper advances''.Simultaneously he produced the ESA recording label, through which he promoted his works.The album was originally released in cassette, reissued seven years later as a CD-R by his own Proximity Records.

Many of the elements characterizing McBabe's near and future releases are present on this album, however the inspiration and recording quality appear to be at a low point.As with many Elegant Simplicity albums, this is an all instrumental effort, trying to draw some influences from the material of acts like CAMEL, FOCUS, PALLAS and PENDRAGON and come-up with melodic, symphonic-oriented compositions, where the solos, keyboard deliveries and instant melodies are the leading factors.The sharp guitar work of McBabe and the background keyboards are forcing the project into a familiar British Neo Prog style, but the sampled instrumentation, the buried mix and the below average sound are holding this from a decent result.The digital drumming is just unacceptable and plenty of the keyboards parts are just so weak and childish, like coming from an old Casio equipment.The ideas of McBabe are pretty cool, he prooves to be a good composer and many of his solos, orchestrations and textures are pretty nice with underlined symphonic touches and a large instrumental activity with dramatic overtones, there are even some Canterbury-wannabee keyboard moves in the process.But the amateur type of the recording process is the preventing factor here.

A decent document of Elegant Simplicity's premature rehearsals.But not a trully qualitive album as a whole with the sampled instruments surrounding the otherwise nice guitar parts.Recommended only to Neo Prog collectors and fanatics.

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 Unforgiving Mirror by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.97 | 10 ratings

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Unforgiving Mirror
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars It has been way too long since Steven McCabe's last album, 2007's 'Too Many Goodbyes', and I wasn't sure if there would be another, but at long last he is back with his 16th studio album to date. I'm not saying that I have known him for a long time, but I have the early albums on pre-recorded cassette tapes, so I guess that you can say that I am fairly familiar with the music.

As has been the case on many of his albums he has been joined by Christopher Knight on drums and percussion, while Ken Senior (isn't it about time we had another Evolution album?) provides vocals on one track. Everything else is by Mr McCabe, and as ever he shows himself to be a dab hand at both guitar and keyboards as he creates music that is sometimes evocative of Gong and Camel as well as bringing in some neo and even fusion influences as well. The use both of 'live' drums and moving between keyboards and guitar means that this generally sounds like a band as opposed to a multi- instrumentalist project.

Melody as opposed to repeated mindless meandering is the order of the day and this is very much an album of six songs, even though five them don't contain any words. 'Un-Apology' is one of my favourites, very much in your face with clever interplay between the lead instruments and quite a funky Seventies feel throughout with some dated keyboard sounds and a real groove to the whole thing. It fairly belts along and is a joy throughout. But, a very special mention needs to go to the title track, which is one of Steven's most epic numbers to date. At more than eighteen minutes long there is plenty of room for the music to move in many different ways (and it even contains some great sax work!) , and each time I play it I find that it draws me in, taking me to a world that contains complex arrangements and layers yet also has a simple elegance, as one might well expect.

It is possible to stream the album on his website at www.elegantsimplicity.com so why not give it a listen and see what you think? Let's hope that we don't have to wait so long for the next one.

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 Moments Of Clarity by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.48 | 8 ratings

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Moments Of Clarity
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars 'Moments Of Clarity' was released in 1999. Steven again changed the line-up deciding to play all of the music himself but bringing in Ken Senior to provide vocals on five of the seven tracks. The vocals seem quite upfront, with little in the way of reverb and it is as if they have been put this way to bring 'honesty' to the piece. It may seem a strange thing to say, but that really is the best way that I can describe it. This is not an album to play when you are feeling depressed, as while the music is often quiet and dreamy the lyrics are telling some harrowing and indeed insightful tales, which gives us the clarity of the title. I am not sure if it is intended as a concept album but certainly it can be taken as such. It is an album about loss and despair, even about having to sit by the side of a loved one and agree to have the life support machine turned off and watch the light go out as they die. While there are some Camel-esque moments, this album is much more influenced by Floyd and even though it has a depressing subject matter I found that this is an album that I enjoyed immensely.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

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 Purity And Despair by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.72 | 12 ratings

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Purity And Despair
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Following on from #69 where I reviewed the three most recent Elegant Simplicity albums I now have had the opportunity to hear the two albums previous to that. 'Purity and Despair' was released in 1998 and was the follow-up to 'Reversal Of Time' which I reviewed in 1997. This album is solely instrumental, and Steve McCabe has again employed some extra musicians, this time in Peter Douglas (guitars) and Gilbert Ross (basses). Of course Steven then manages to bring the kitchen sink to the ensemble, giving it a very full sound indeed (one small niggle, a 'live' drummer would have given it a better sound.

What is immediately apparent is the way that the music moves and flows, sometimes returning to a previous theme or moving on in a new direction. The music can be led through 'modern' style keyboards or a mellotron, or acoustic guitar or electric, but it always keeps the interest and could never be considered boring or background. Instrumental albums need to be something a bit special to keep the listener involved, and this is laid back yet at the time passionate and brings together melodies in a way that really works. Camel are again a main influence and I would urge fans of that band to search this out.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

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 Architect Of Light by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.25 | 12 ratings

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Architect Of Light
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars And so it is now up to date with 'Architect Of Light' which was released earlier this year. It is dedicated to "whatever it was that saved my life on February 4th 2002" ? this is something that I can relate to as tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of my motorbike accident, and Steve's dedication is concerning a car accident he suffered on that date. There are a few albums I have reviewed in this issue that appear to be what the artist has been building to for a period of time, and that is the case with this one. It is ten years since Steve started releasing cassettes, and on this album he not only has Ken providing vocals but also now has a drummer in Christopher Knight. There are a couple of guest musicians on the album providing diverse elements on some tracks, and Steve himself also provides some stunning flute along with his other instruments.

With three of the five songs over sixteen minutes long, this is an album that is bringing together a multitude of styles that are at the same time different yet belonging. It is an album of complexity, yet also simplicity, bringing Floydian styles in with Camel and mixing them up with a solid dose of new prog that it is very much music that is relevant for today. Again it is mostly instrumental, but Ken very much plays his part.

Originally appeared in Feedback #69, Aug 02

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 Palindrome  by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.59 | 6 ratings

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Palindrome
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars 'Palindrome' was the next album, in 2001, and saw Steven yet again back in partnership with Ken Senior. Ken is a multi-instrumentalist in his own right (releasing material as Evolution) and has more recently been gainfully employed as bassist in Parallel Or 90 Degrees. Within Elegant Simplicity he finds work as vocalist only, while Steven yet again provides all of the music/songs/production/artwork etc. This is an album where the dynamism has been turned up a lot, and while half of the songs are instrumental, even these have a power that was missing from the previous album. Throughout the album the guitars are much more to the fore, and the scene is set with the powerful opening title cut which shows that instrumental prog music has a right to be included within the term 'rock'. It builds and grows, with subtle changes of style and mannerisms, so that the listener is always moving with the flow not knowing what each layer is going to reveal.

Ken had an understanding of what is required and his vocal style fits in with the music extremely well, no matter what demands are being made. "Let It Be Me" starts with riffing guitar prior to a great keyboard lead where Steve proves just how quick his fingers can move, yet then takes a total change in direction before the vocals kick in. This is a great song, whatever the genre, and although at ten minutes is probably slightly too long for commercial radio it is a song that anyone can get into straight away.

Originally appeared in Feedback #69, Aug 02

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 The Story Of Our Lives by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.00 | 7 ratings

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The Story Of Our Lives
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I was searching through the web looking for music related to Ken Senior one night when I came across the excellent web site of Elegant Simplicity (www.elegantsimplicity.com). I had forgotten that Ken sang for Steven McCabe, and realised that I had also lost touch with Steve himself. I made contact again and discovered that the reason Steve had not been in touch over recent years was that his computer had died and he had lost many of his contact addresses. To rectify the situation Steve sent me his last three albums so that I could hear what he had been up to in recent times.

Steve is prolific, and since 1992 has released 14 full-length albums, 4 promo tapes, and 2 sampler tapes. But just because he has a large amount of output it does not mean that there is any reduction in quality, he is just an artist with a lot of ideas. It appears that the last album I heard was 'Reversal Of Time' which I reviewed in #42 (1997). Between that one and 'The Story Of Our Lives' (2002) there were two more that I haven't heard so it was interesting to be able to sit down and see what changes there had been during that time.

Elegant Simplicity started life as a one man band, with Steve providing instrumental albums where he not only performed and produced the music, but also all of the sleeve design and artwork. This is the case with this album as it is an instrumental, which is one piece of music just under forty-eight minutes long (subdivided into 12 so sections can be easily accessed). The whole thing was recorded and produced in about two weeks, which is quite an undertaking for music that is as layered and complex as this. While Steve the music is laid back as opposed to dynamic, there is a great deal going on with keyboards and guitars interacting in a mellow Camel/Floyd style. It could be construed then that this is background music but that is definitely not the case. It is uplifting music that made me keep thinking of the sea, music that I could drift on and wanted to hear to the end.

Originally appeared in Feedback #69, Aug 02

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 Natural Instinct by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Natural Instinct
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The recording orgasm for Steven McCabe continues during the summer of 94'.In July/August he recorded the seventh album under the Elegant Simplicity moniker at Propinquity Studios in Wakefield, followed by its mix and mastering at the fall of the year and the dawn of 1995.Entitled ''Natural instinct''. the album was originally released in cassette format, four years later it was offered by Proximity Records as a CD-R album and since 2006 one can track it down as a digital purchase.

While not dissimlar to the previous efforts, ''Natural instinct'' moves away from the long composing forms and here McBabe offers 12 short, all instrumental pieces of dense and well-crafted Progressive Rock with the CYAN and PENDRAGON influences being still apparent.Among the nervous synthesizer deliveries and the melodic guitar chops, McBabe is willing to throw a nice dose of organ moves, while the mood among the tracks ranges from emotional textures to rich, instrumental runs with plenty of rhythmic parts and shifting moments.The new album remains quite unoriginal regarding the style delivered, but the drum programming seems a bit improved and the level of compositions is quite decent with plenty of interesting ideas and moving passages.At times the music becomes very bombastic with full-blown synthesizers and pounding organs.The more laid-back and melodic tracks show again McBabe's love for the music of CAMEL with series of sensitive guitar solos mixed with atmospheric keyboards.

The tireless British composer keeps producing solid and consistent Progressive Rock, that will appeal to all fans of its classic timeline.Light symphonic references, vintage blinks and Neo Prog-inclined melodies are among the characteristics of another Elegant Simplicity work, that comes warmly recommended.

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 Nowhere Left To Turn by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Nowhere Left To Turn
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Steven McCabe is back with his eighteenth full length album, and again he has been joined by Christopher Knight on drums while Steven provides all of the other instruments. The album contains just four songs, but two of these are over seventeen minutes long while the other two are no slouches either. The longest song is the title cut which is over twenty minutes in length and also contains some vocals, here provided by Stephen Lyons. What is immediately apparent that Steven has decided to produce an album that while maintaining the Camel/ Floyd traits that we have come to love, has also decided that it is also time to produce music with a harder edge to it. This will never of course be a hard rock album but there is more concentration on riffs and chords from his guitar as opposed to just sinuous complex guitar lines. These are there as well of course, but here he has allowed his heavier influences to come through.

This is prog music that is going to appeal to a wide amount of listeners, and while he never gets into prog metal territory this slightly heavier approach is going to gain him new fans. If you have never come across Steven previously then you really need to do so. His website is one of the best prog sites around and there is plenty of music there to listen to, to get a flavour of what this guy is all about. If you have never listened to Elegant Simplicity then you owe it to your ears to do so. www.elegantsimplicity.com

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 Crying To The Future by ELEGANT SIMPLICITY album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Crying To The Future
Elegant Simplicity Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars 1994 was by far Steve McBabe's most prolific period with the musician being in an absolute creative orgasm, releasing one cassette after the other.''Crying to the Future'' was his fifth production and the second from the year.McBabe still plays all instruments and is responsible for all the arrangements and album's production.The album was reissued in CD format in 1999 by Proximity Records and since 2007 it is available as a digital download with a bonus track/guitar mix of the eponymous track.

His style was always defined by the evident CAMEL influences in a more Neo Prog approach, resulting an album full of nice melodies, intricate arrangements and strong resemblances to PENDRAGON and CYAN.His guitar touch has obvious references to the style of ANDY LATIMER, ROB REED and NICK BARRETT, but McBabe is sure to accompany his inspired hooks with tons of keyboard and piano lines.All of his compositions have something to offer, going from flashy performances with synthesizers on top and passages with his guitar in evidence to piano-based introductions and melodic parts with some nice solos.What always spoils his early efforts is definitely the poor and very mechanical drum programming and at moments the dull keyboard sounds.The final taste though remains positive, nice modern Neo/Symphonic Prog with a good sense of intricacy and melody.

This man was really talented still since his early releases.''Crying to the Future'' is another sign, which shows that, if you love what you are doing, you can come up with a great result, even if you are all alone.Recommended to fans of Classic, Neo, Symphonic and Melodic Prog.

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