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COLIN MASSON

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Colin Masson biography
Former leader of prog-folk band THE MORRIGAN, Colin Masson is an English multi-instrumentalist who focusses on guitar, both acoustic and electric but especially the latter. On his solo album - for which he did the artwork- he plays bass, recorder, percussion, keyboards and trombone. His material is made up of lush sounds that float somewhere between symphonic prog and new age, with interesting Medieval/Gryphon-like elements (especially the recorder parts) that contrast with the screaming electric guitars.

Recorded in 1998-99 at Greeacres Farm in Wiltshire, his album "Isle of Eight" is divided into three long tracks, each made up of a medley of unrelated short tunes, somewhat in the vein of MIKE OLDFIELD's "Tubular Bells". Some may find the musicianship a tad simplistic, technically speaking, but it is always tasteful; the compositions are solid and the themes catchy, emotive and melodic. Finally, the sound quality is remarkable, especially for a self-produced album. A very enjoyable cd overall.

If you like MASSON's former band THE MORRIGAN, you will certainly enjoy this solo effort as it sounds almost like a pure MORRIGAN album.

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

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

3.57 | 25 ratings
Isle Of Eight
2001
3.92 | 58 ratings
The Mad Monk And The Mountain
2009
3.56 | 31 ratings
The Southern Cross
2011

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COLIN MASSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Isle Of Eight by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.57 | 25 ratings

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Isle Of Eight
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars British multi-instrumentalist Colin Masson was born in late-50's in Germany to Anglo German parents and returned to the UK during the 60's.He studied fine art and graphic design in Bristol in early-80's.While being a member of various small metal and rock bands during this period, he is mostly known for his work as a guitarist with the Celtic Folk/Rock band The Morrigan.With The Morrigan he produced four full-length albums until 1998, when he focused on recording material for his first solo work.This came out in 2001 entitled ''Isle of Eight'' on the Headline label, a re-issue followed in 2006 on Russian label MALS.

The album contains three fascinating long cuts, clocking at 25, 27 and 13 minutes respectively.Even more impressive, Masson handles all guitars, bass, keyboards and drums on the album with only some help by his wife and long time collaborator on The Morrigan Cathy Alexander on keyboards and vocals.''Isle of Eight'' presents all this compressed energy The Morrigan did not really blow out during their career in an incredible mix of Symphonic Rock, New Age and Celtic Folk, creating dreamy fantasy pictures of untold beauty for the listener.Moreover Masson showcases his incredible skills not only as an extraordinary and special guitarist but also as a gifted composer in this album.Orchestral keyboards, heart-melt solos in a MIKE OLDFIELD vein, symphonically arrangenged passages, grandiose folk soundscapes and mostly some of the most tight compositions this overlooked artist ever wrote.The shifting acoustic and electric tunes are simply georgeous and while you will find yourself in a calm bucolic mood at some point, the next moment the music takes off due to Masson's unique talent of producing dreamy electric atmospheres under an orchestral mood.All three epics follow the same vein and the final feeling is to spin this album again and again.

Definitely the most complete work of Mason's overall discography so far. Grandiose and highly emotional orchestral Progressive Rock with massive inspired folk and New Age overtones to satisfy all listeners of deeply atmospheric music journeys.Highly recommended.

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

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The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'The Southern Cross' - Colin Masson (6/10)

Although UK composer Colin Masson may have had an existing following of dedicated fans after an intermittent tenure with progressive folk rockers The Morrigan, it was not until his solo career where people started to really take notice. 'Isle Of Eight' demonstrated the man's intelligent grasp of composition and epic take on Celtic prog rock, but it was not until the second album, 'The Mad Monk And The Mountain', in which his talents were fully realized. It is not common for artists to finally hit their break after being in the music business for so long, but Colin Masson has become something of an underground favourite within Prog Archives and elsewhere on the web. Given this precedent, there were high expectations for a follow-up, both from myself and anyone else who had recognized the same brilliance that I did in 'Mad Monk'. Although I am sure that the man is far from ever exhausting his creative flame, Colin avoided writing new material for the highly anticipated record, instead taking a number of old songs from his repertoire, rerecording them, and binding them together with a loose concept. 'The Southern Cross' has strength where it counts, but alas, I think I can speak for a lot of listeners when I say that I was expecting more from it.

With a fascinating concept, a strong precedent, and one of the most enchanting album covers I have seen in a while, the table was set for me to give 'The Southern Cross' plenty of love. When I found out that this album would be compiled with rerecorded versions of older songs, I still had high hopes; after all, much of this material would be fresh to my ears, even after having explored The Morrigan's career thoroughly. Although I may have feared that 'The Southern Cross' was going to feel like a hodge-podge compilation, the conceptual binding practically assured that the album would feel cohesive and together, despite the source material being derived from a range of many years. In simplest terms, my high expectations have led to a rather sour disappointment, although Colin Masson's work here is far from weak. An apt way to voice my feelings for it would be to imagine an older brother and younger brother. The older brother shows plenty of promise, and does great things. Although the younger brother is quite well off in his own way, he pales in comparison to his older sibling, and is therefore judged more harshly. I'm afraid this is the case with 'The Southern Cross'.

The style follows Colin Masson's penchant for the 'Celtic' sound, although traditional instruments are not used. Masson is actually able to channel the Celtic spirit through his use of a heavily reverb-laden electric guitar, an instrument he uses profusely both here and on earlier albums. As will not come as a surprise to anyone who has heard the man perform before, Masson's guitar work is fantastic, and it's definitely where the hearth of his talent lays. Setting 'The Southern Cross' apart from its predecessors is the use of a conceptual storyline. This is not a full-blown narrative, but instead uses a loose concept to tie songs together that would otherwise feel completely out of place next to each other. The plot is simple, but poetic; two vessels both named 'The Southern Cross', separated by the space of one thousand years. Each album 'side' depicts the story either of the past or future ship, and how it meets its ultimate fate. The seafaring theme is given due respect in regards to the music, as Masson inducts sea shanties into the stirring pot. There is also 'space' electronic compositionship, acoustic plucking, and a manner of things in between. Although the concept gives a greater sense of being a single work, the wide variety can often make 'The Southern Cross' like exactly what it is; a compilation of unused material. It is executed with all of the tact and skill of a Colin Masson opus, but lacks the singular direction and chilling beauty that had me love 'The Mad Monk And The Mountain'.

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

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The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Best known as a member of progressive folk act The Morrigan, Colin Masson has also established himself as an excellent solo artist in recent years. The Southern Cross is his third and most recent solo effort, following up 2009's spectacular The Mad Monk and the Mountain. Though this is his most recently released musical expedition, the majority of The Southern Cross actually consists of re-workings of material composed by Masson over twenty years ago. A loose conceptual story about two ships separated by a thousand years in time ties these nine progressive rock tunes together, and the end result is an album that is both epic in its scope and enjoyable from a listener's perspective. This ambitious concept album is another highly successful observation from Colin Masson, and while I do think it falls short of The Mad Monk and the Mountain, it should prove to be another worthwhile experience for fans and newcomers alike.

Those familiar with previous Masson outings should expect a similar musical approach on The Southern Cross. If you're unacquainted with his music, many of the songs rely on a symphonic progressive rock foundation with lots of extraneous influences from genres like folk, new age, and electronica - this sound is distinctly Colin's own, and this matched by his developed songwriting skills show that he has no intentions of imitating any other progressive rock acts. I have a tough time imagining any fan of epic and theatrical progressive rock not having an excellent time with songs like "The Wreckers" or "Ocean of Storms", and all of the album is extremely consistent in terms of quality. At over an hour in length, The Southern Cross is surprisingly free of any weak tracks, and though I don't get the same emotional highs that I got from The Mad Monk and the Mountain, this is still an excellent album from start to finish.

Aside from some help from Cathy Alexander and Ryan Masson, The Southern Cross is very much a solo effort from Colin Masson. Everything from the songwriting and instrumental performances to the artwork and the production is done by Colin, and his adept abilities in all aspects of the music recording process are admirable. His guitar talents especially jump out at me, and there are enough tasty solos throughout The Southern Cross to satisfy any enthusiast of the instrument. While the drum programming and somewhat thin production may be a turn-off for some listeners, neither of them have a major impact on my listening experience. One thing is remarkably clear after hearing The Southern Cross - Colin Masson is a capable musician with an original approach to progressive rock music that few others can claim nowadays.

Following up an album as outstanding as The Mad Monk and the Mountain is a difficult task, but The Southern Cross proves that Colin Masson has enough endurance to consistently pump out impressive works of art. Those who enjoy modern symphonic progressive rock on the more eclectic and epic side should find plenty to love on The Southern Cross, and while I don't get enough emotional highs for me to consider it a truly great album, this is a concise and enjoyable observation from one of the UK's most impressive recent exports. Fans of Colin Masson's music will definitely want to hear this one, and 3.5 stars are well-deserved. Though it's a slight step down from The Mad Monk and the Mountain, there's no doubt that The Southern Cross is a mature and highly worthwhile listen.

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

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The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars A mixed bag of generally tasty leftovers

The Southern Cross is The Morrigan main man Colin Masson's third release under his own name, but it is not strictly speaking a third solo album as most of the compositions actually predate not only his first two solo albums, but also several of the albums by The Morrigan. The original compositions on The Southern Cross are around 20 years old, but the recordings are (partly?) new. The nature of the music differs from what could be found on Isle Of Eight and The Mad Monk And The Mountain as well as from the music of The Morrigan, but there are also some similarities. This album is something of a mix between Folk Rock and Progressive Electronic, with the first half being folky and the latter more electronic. The influence of Mike Oldfield is still strong, particularly on Masson's tasteful guitar playing.

South Australia and Wreckers already appeared on Morrigan albums, but these versions are older and different. But hardly better! The majority of the album is very pleasant and enjoyable even if a step behind his previous two albums. Right in the middle of the album there is a silly spoken passage in which Masson introduces the second side of the album (as it was originally intended for vinyl release). For me this functions as something of a "mood killer". But it doesn't spoil too much.

Masson is a great musician and this album is indeed a nice addition to any collection that already holds Isle Of Eight and The Mad Monk And The Mountain as well as the albums by The Morrigan. For newcomers, however, I would strongly recommend to get these other albums (especially the very good albums by The Morrigan) before venturing this deep into Masson's discography. Please don't let my low rating for this release discourage you from checking out the music by Masson in general.

Recommended for fans!

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

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The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In 2009, Colin Masson released The Mad Monk and the Mountain, an album that, once it's existence was known, gained many well-deserved fans. Enough so that Colin, who had considered "Mad Monk" to be somewhat of a farewell and had decided to record no more, has made a complete about-face and followed up with The Southern Cross.

Perhaps because he has found an audience and knows he can continue to make music now - or perhaps because this album is composed of songs that Colin wrote many years ago during his heyday in The Morrigan - it lacks the intensity of Mad Monk. Instead, we get a more relaxed feeling, although that really is a relative statement. Tracks like South Australia carry with them a fair amount of intensity, from the deep, layered chanting vocals in the background, to the ponderous and purposeful instrumentation (with a slight nautical feel to it) that makes me think (intentionally, I am sure), of men rowing a large ship. But there are tracks - such as the opening to side A, Never Come Back, that don't quite have the sophistication of some of the better tracks on the album.

The album is a concept album about two ships named The Southern Cross, both of which come to unfortunate ends. As such, the album is split into a side A (about the first ship) and side B (about the second ship). As a nice twist, the ships are separated by a few hundred years and the second is actually a starship. This gives the two sides a distinct identity, with side A having more of a sea-shanty feel at times, whereas side B comes across as more modern and techy.

Instrumentally this album is much as you could expect after hearing Mad Monk. The guitar lines are clean and melodic, yet full of rich texture supported by the keyboards and occasional recorder that really help build up the sense of a scene. There is no doubt that Colin can play his guitar, and there are a couple of points where he "lets loose" for a moment or two, but it's always in the context of what works for the song and never just wankery. He is just as likely to let his guitar wail sorrowfully or groan ponderously, depending on the mood of the song. There is some truly beautiful work on this album, such as the last track on Side A, Compass Rose, which comes across as both sorrowful and beautiful. It always brings to my mind the aftermath of a ship being destroyed - starting with the ship slowly sinking under the surface of the ocean, but ending with the stillness and peacefulness of the wide open sea. It's like a calamity from the point of view of the ocean - a moment of turbulence followed by things being as they ever were.

The reality is that this album is mostly synthetic, with the recorder, voice, and the guitar being the only "real" instruments, and keyboards and programming providing the textural elements. The guitar does tend to lead more as a result, but the reality is that this album in no way suffers. Colin has a great ear for being both tasteful and effective in his sound chases and compositions with the synthetic instruments, and they always fit naturally into the music.

Storywise, I find the first side to be more coherent, possibly just because it's broken into smaller pieces (the second side is 3 tracks compared to the 5 of side 1). There is also the nice change of pace in The Wreckers, when once again Colins wife, Cathy Alexander, lends her voice to the project.

The second side is a bit more paranoid, at least from the listeners perspective rather than the characters, with lines like "I believe in everything they tell me (we are the chosen few), everything they tell me must be true (watching over you)", which reeks of the characters being manipulated. It also contains the highest energy tracks on the album. Again, this is a demonstration of the skill building atmosphere Colin has, the energy here making me think of swarms of humans running around this ship, making sure everything is working well as it hurtles through space towards its eventual target, versus the relatively slow-paced feel of the first half that matched the feeling of the ocean.

In terms of overall quality, I would say this album ranks just below Mad Monk, but given how amazing that album was, coming this close again is no small feat. And really, this album is more cohesive than Mad Monk, it simply does not reach the heights of the best moments off of that album.

Definitely a worthy listen.

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

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The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another excellent album from the talented Mr. Masson! From what I understand most of this album was actually written about 20 years ago, but Masson has re-recorded everything for this release. I was a huge fan of Masson's previous album "The Mad Monk and the Mountain," and I am glad to say that this is a more than worthy follow-up, though there are distinct stylistic differences between that album and this one.

"Never Come Back" begins the album, and it's a very interesting song, with a folky, sea- shanty feel to it. With a great picked guitar part accompanied by some low string sounds, the song has quite an ominous atmosphere about it, an effect which is enhanced by the low vocals behind the main line. Masson does an excellent job of fitting the vocals to the music, making the whole arrangement sound very full even though there's not actually a huge number of instruments being played.

"Sails of Silver" also has a bit of a nautical feel to it, as you may have guessed from the title, though this one has a more prog-folk feel to it than the rather straightforward (but still excellent) opener. Beginning with a slower vocal section, the song transitions into an instrumental part that features some excellent classical-style guitar. It concludes by launching into a more uptempo motif for the last minute that features some great electric guitar to complement the acoustic used for most of the rest of the track.

"South Australia" could have fit in very well on Masson's previous album "The Mad Monk and the Mountain." The track begins with a great instrumental section that mixes folky melodies with classic prog-rock instrumentation before dropping into a relatively heavy (for Masson) section led by Masson's great vocals. The final section of the track is instrumental as well, featuring more of that great acoustic guitar soloing and some really great orchestration as well. This track really highlights what I would consider to be one of Masson's strengths, using folky melodies and more modern "sounds" (there's some almost electronic sounding keyboards towards the end) in a way that is extremely complementary and gives his music a very unique sound.

"The Wreckers" sees the return of the fantastic female vocals that were so prominent on "The Mad Monk and the Mountain." The track makes excellent use of heavy and light parts juxtaposed against one another to create a very dramatic feel for the song, a feeling which is enhanced by the dynamic, almost cinematic instrumental section in the middle. The track closes with more of those great, soaring female vocals courtesy of Cathy Alexander.

"Compass Rose" is a more sedate track. Fully instrumental, it makes great use of orchestral sounds mixed with electric guitar to create a kind of "folk-classical-rock" sound and it works to great effect, especially as it is the end of the first half of the album. A very nice track to close off the first section.

"intermission With Moon Cycles" is a rather tongue in cheek spoken word interlude alerting the listener that "Side 2" of the album is beginning. A humorous little break that really helps the two halves of the album feel distinct, especially for youngsters like me who didn't grow up listening to vinyl.

"The Heart Of The Machine" begins this second section, and it is a bit more of a rocker than the mostly folky, orchestrated songs on the first half. With a fantastic guitar solo and a spaced-out chorus, it's a wonderfully varied song that sounds totally different than anything from "The Mad Monk and the Mountain," but it's pulled off with the same spot-on execution and it's a great way to begin the second half of the album.

"Ocean Of Storms" brings a whole other kind of new sound. Masson says that this track is largely inspired by Berlin-school electronic music, and it's fascinating to hear a modern take on that kind of music, especially from someone with a more prog-folk background. It's totally different than anything I've heard from Masson in the past, but it's absolutely brilliantly pulled off, and it's one of my favorite tracks on the album. Dreamy soundscapes are blended with Cathy Alexander's vocals and the end result is breathtaking. It's a great, spaced-out, trippy track that nonetheless manages to fit in perfectly with the rest of the album. Amazing.

The title track concludes the album, and it's another great one. Switching off between slower, more atmospheric sections and heavier, more solo-based sections, "The Southern Cross" is the perfect track to close off the album. Mostly instrumental, it manages to maintain the folky, nautical vibe that has permeated the rest of the album while also sounding completely fresh and modern. It never has to stoop to the kind of mindless shredding that so often dooms prog instrumental sections, and stays compelling for a fully instrumental 10 minutes before vocals enter. The finale to the track is stellar as well, making use of a triumphant guitar line that gives you goosebumps. There's a bit more guitar as the track fades out, and overall it's quite a satisfying end to this excellent album.

Overall, I would say that "The Southern Cross" lacks a bit of the cohesion that "Mad Monk..." had, but more than makes up for it with a greater variety of styles, with "Ocean of Storms" being especially great. The sea-shanty opener and the hard rocking "Heart of the Machine" also help to give this album a distinct flavor from its predecessor. Additionally, Masson's vocals are used much more prominently on this album, which I was glad to see, as only one track on his previous album ("Two Lighthousekeepers," namely) made use of them and that was one of my favorite tracks on that album.

An excellent offering from a great, under-the-radar musician. Highly, highly recommended, along with his previous work.

4/5

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 The Mad Monk And The Mountain by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.92 | 58 ratings

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The Mad Monk And The Mountain
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's truly amazing the kind of things you can find when you're not really looking. As with a lot of music I listen to, I pretty much bought this on a whim after seeing it mentioned (and highly regarded) on the forums. Well, I think it's safe to say that this is one of the better impulse buys I've ever made.

I mentioned in an earlier review that I thought it was rare to find an "under the radar" album that could be compared with the big name groups in PA's top 100. After all, the famous bands are famous for a reason, right? Well, the more I listen to albums like this one the more I think that I was really off the mark with that opinion. This album presents a dynamic blend of progressive rock that I think definitely compares favorably with the big names we all know and love.

The album begins with "Two Lighthousekeepers," and what an opening it is. Beginning with some spacey sounding textures, the song quickly launches into a musically and lyrically compelling narrative about (you guessed it) Two Lighthousekeepers. The lyrics are interesting and the vocals fit absolutely perfectly. From what I understand Mr. Masson's main band is a folk-prog band, and that scene's strong history of vocal melody comes through very clearly here.

Interestingly, after this incredible lyrical introduction, the album takes a turn towards the instrumental. "Tilting at Windmills" starts off a fairly laid back, electric-folk sounding section, but the intensity of this track only rises. By the end of the track we've moved from some fairly chilled-out guitar licks to a frenzied, uptempo cacophony, chaotic and yet at the same time perfectly arranged.

"The Ends of the Earth" is markedly more sedate, featuring some excellent woodwind work and female vocals. Where "Tilting at Windmills" was knotty and technical, this track feels open and breathy. Parts of it almost feel like a lullaby. It's a perfect contrast to the track that precedes it, and again it really highlights Masson's excellent ear for melody.

The title track is another largely instrumental affair, though there are some wordless vocals. To my ears this one has a decidedly eastern feel to it, which I find interesting given the generally celtic feel of most of the other tracks. Another track that perfectly melds melody and technical complexity, "The Mad Monk and the Mountain" I think more than lives up to its expectations as the title track.

"Caradon's Surprise" is pretty much a short acoustic guitar interlude, and it gives the listener a nice break to breathe before the final track of the album kicks off. This track combines elements of classical guitar with the folk sound so prevalent on this album, and it's a great change of pace, though it's probably a good thing it's not any longer than it is. As it stands it's a perfect addition to the album.

The album closes with another instrumental, and coming it at almost 17 minutes it's the longest track on the album by a good margin. In my listening experience it's often difficult to keep a prog instrumental interesting for that long, but of course Mr. Masson is up to the task. Featuring some excellent horn sound near the beginning and one of the best guitar melodies on the album towards the middle, "The House on the Rock" is everything a prog- rock epic should be: grandiose, dynamic, exciting, and perhaps most importantly, fun. You can really feel a kind of excited energy flowing throughout this whole track, and perhaps that's why it's so easy to listen to. You really get the feeling that the players are having a blast, and so it's no surprise that these 17 minutes feel like half that.

Overall, a stellar prog outing from Mr. Masson. If I have one complaint it's that we don't get to hear more of his excellent vocals and lyrics, but the instrumental arrangement and proficiency we get instead is a more than worthy replacement. A masterpiece.

5/5

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

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The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A new Colin Masson album with some old material!

Thanks to the explanation Colin gives in the CD booklet, we can know that some of the material released in this new album was actually composed in the 80s, so here we have a combination of old and new stuff, complementing each other and creating a great conceptual album. Entitled "The Southern Cross", in this album we will listen to hints of The Morrigan (the band in which Masson plays), symphonic prog, guitars ala Oldfield, and some folk and traditional passages.

The album is formed by nine compositions, making a total time of one hour. It starts with "Never Come Back", one of the shortest tracks, whose sound has a strong folkish element, with nice percussion and acoustic guitars. The lyrical concept starts here since the very first second, so we have to pay attention to it if we want to understand the whole concept.

"Sails of Silver" starts with a soft and delicate sound, relaxing and charming for two minutes, until it suddenly changes and becomes very Oldfield-like, with that great electric guitar. Later a flute appears, while acoustic guitar and keyboards as background complement the scenario. Then the song shares different passages, the soft and charming sound reappears for some minutes, but as you guess, it will change to that joyful guitar oriented style. Cool track!

"South Australia" is one of my favorite compositions. It is a track that has the capacity of creating several images and producing a diversity of sensations. The first part is purely instrumental, but after three minutes vocals appear and put a mediaeval and war-like sound. There is an inherent folk flavor on this song. Later, keyboards appear and add their grain of sound, helping with a background and putting new textures and nuances. Wonderful and challenging song!

"The Wreckers" is the first track featuring Cathy Alexander on vocals. The music shares in moments a tense and intriguing atmosphere, complemented by her voice. There is an instrumental passage which is wonderful, full of hope and great expectations, but it fades out after five minutes, when vocals appear once again. "Compass Rose" is another short track, an instrumental one with cool guitar notes, and nice atmospheric keyboards. Both create a structure and decide when to increase and lower the sound.

Now with "Intermission With Moon Cycles" we have the shortest piece, which actually works as an intermission between the first and second half, here we listen to a voice explaining this. And side two starts with a strong bass sound in "The Heart of the Machine". This song has a rockier style, the folk element practically disappeared here. The sound is good but catchier, and honestly this is not my favorite track at all.

"Ocean of Storms" is the first of the two epics of the album. This song is really beautiful, it is like being on a journey in a boat, a ship, you can feel crossing the seas while listening to it. I love how with the seconds new elements are being added and can be appreciated. The music along with Cathy's vocals are surrounding and involving you little by little until you are inside the story. The atmosphere is awesome, and the quantity of images you can create is countless. You just have to let the music take you, and then you will decide what to see, what to listen, what to do. This is a truly progressive rock song, one of the highlights of this album without a doubt!

And finally "The Southern Cross", which is a wonderful mixture of all we've listened so far. Here the symphonic sound, the folk elements and that personal Colin Masson style can be perfectly heard here. In this 14-minute track we will also delight with different changes in time and humor; in the first minutes we will have an instrumental, well-structured track full of colors and images. Later vocals appear and give a different route. The guitar riffs are heavier than the previous tracks, the bass lines repetitive but addictive, and the keyboards great as usual. With this track, the journey sadly finishes, but left us with a great taste of mouth.

Colin Masson is a wonderfully talented musician, and I am happy to have his music. I really hope more people listen to him, he deserves it. My final grade will be four stars.

Enjoy it!

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

BUY
The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

3 stars Sailing seas of melody

Colin Masson, most well known as the guitarist in the English prog folk band The Morrigan, has been making waves in the progressive community with his now three solo efforts. His third album, The Southern Cross, carries a similar style as his previous albums, with a more atmospheric and melodic feel. Taking as much influence from Celtic folk rock as he does from his obvious main influence Mike Oldfield, Masson produces a very relaxing and enjoyable ride across the seas of this hour long record. The album itself has interesting story, to boot. Originally written and recorded in the mid-80s on a low-fi 4-track, the music sat in his back catalogue until he acquired proper means to record it professionally, which today is far easier to procure. So, in 2011 he set out re-recording the near-30 year old compositions again, sprucing them up and filling them in with modern spice. The album doesn't end as just some old songs, however, as, true to progressive style, it has an accompanying concept. The album is the story of two ships, the original Southern Cross that sets sail somewhere in the 18th century, and a starship that has an encounter with a black hole about a thousand years later. The two ships, as Masson himself puts it, meet a "sticky end," which is explored throughout the album.

The album is very much rooted in melody and atmosphere, two components Masson is no stranger to, as they were also the main ingredients in his 2009 album The Mad Monk and the Mountain. This album, however, takes on a more nautical overtone, coinciding with the theme of the album. The wave-like rhythmic patterns create a sense of a ship rocking across the seas, ranging from calm waters to stormy breakers. This atmosphere, mixed with a very Oldfield-esque folky melodic structure, makes for a very calm and relaxed album throughout.

The second "side" of the album (noted by the "record flip" track) notes a significant shift in style on the album. Now that the ocean vessel "The Southern Cross" has been exchanged for the intergalactic space cruiser, a more fast-paced and streamlined sound is taken on. Throughout this side a very clean feel as taken on, as if the space cruiser is making its way through the airwaves of this album's sound. The futuristic atmosphere in the three songs on this side enhances this experience, making the listener feel like he too is exploring the inner depths of space along with the space ship's crew. In a near psychedelic feel, Masson's various instrumental textures give the album an appearance, one of abstract wonder and mystery, which truly paves the way for this album's prowess as a smooth, calming exploration of Masson's musical vision.

In the end the album is a truly wonderful ride. The music, as old and "dated" as it is, retains a modern and accessible touch. Masson's self-production is well-done and professional despite the fact that the studio was Masson's bedroom. The concept, although it isn't the most developed story ever to exist, is creative and adds a nice dynamic to the album. The instrumentation is intimate and folky, preying on Masson's roots as a folk musician and his obvious Mike Oldfield influence. Overall, Masson has produced a very good record, with plenty of memorable melodies and a very beautiful atmosphere. Again he has shown he is no stranger to well-made music, and I will certainly look forward to more material from Mr. Masson. 3+ stars.

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 The Southern Cross by MASSON, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.56 | 31 ratings

BUY
The Southern Cross
Colin Masson Crossover Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Strictly not a new Colin Masson album, this is.

Tapes of the ideas that became this album has been kicking around since the 1980s and while The Morrigan was alive and very much kicking ass around on albums and on stage. I just mentioned this to explain the very strong folksy sound this album has got. Sound I am sure it got from being stored and conceived during his time in The Morrigan. This is fair and well in my view and not meant as a derogatory remark. On the contrary, in fact.

What we get on this album is a concept about a sailor down under. Down in the south seas. The most feared and violent oceans in the world. Colin Masson has spun a story on this. A great story.

Music is what this is all about and the five first songs, side 1 of an LP according to the narration, is great. The Wreckers with Mrs Masson, make that Cathy Alexander, is superb. A very evocative, haunting melody driven by Cathy Alexander's excellent vocals. The best piece of this album by far.

Side 2 , song 6 and out is not that good though. It seems like the steam is running out..... sorry, make that......... the wind has been taken of the sails on these songs. That's bar the title track which is great. There are also some songs here which does not move me at all.

In short; Colin Masson has given us an album somewhere between the last The Morrigan album and his previous album ....Monk. Quality wise, this is a very good album. But it does not quite move my ocean, I am afraid.

3.5 stars

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