MENU
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

MARC CARLTON

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Marc Carlton picture
Marc Carlton biography
Marc CARLTON is a UK-based musician/composer, focusing on a unique brand of experimental instrumental music, mixing progressive rock, electronic and symphonic sounds to create highly involving and emotional experiences. Heavily influenced by the 70's progressive era, he cites primary inspiration from the work of KING CRIMSON, GENESIS, Mike OLDFIELD and YES, tempered by a love of ambient music by the likes of TANGERINE DREAM and Jean-Michel JARRE, and also modern Japanese game music by Nobuo UEMATSU and Yasunori MITSUDA. However, CARLTON's mournful instrumentals, often minimalist soundscapes, and truly unmistakable guitar sound make his work very much a new chapter in progressive music, attempting to capture the breadth and spirit of the 70s golden age in a modern, essential form.

His first work - 1998's "Passing Within Realtime" - mainly featured complex, extended acoustic guitar movements, piano, and synth in a gentle style comparable to the early work of Anthony PHILLIPS, "reflections on awakening, waiting, indecision, determination, corruption, and freedom". Slowly, CARLTON's singlehanded album production has evolved into more lush arrangements and a more electric sound, ultimately typified by 2004's mesmerising "Still", and "Reflex Arc" in 2005 - a sixteen-part continuous suite aiming to depict various states of direct experience.


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :

An artist who, in the words written by Steve HACKETT that got him into GENESIS, seeks to "strive beyond existing stagnant music forms", Marc CARLTON's work will prove interesting for anyone who takes the time for music to speak to them, challenge them, and immerse them in a sonic journey through the mind.

Submitted by Marc Carton


Discography:
Passing Within Realtime (1998)
Voices Through Endless Walls (1999)
An Ageless Sense (2002)
Still (2004)
Reflex Arc (2005)

Myspace link - Marc Carlton

Marc Carlton official website

MARC CARLTON MP3, Free Download (music stream)


Open extended player in a new pop-up window | Random Playlist (50) | How to submit new MP3s

MARC CARLTON forum topics / tours, shows & news


MARC CARLTON forum topics Create a topic now
MARC CARLTON tours, shows & news
No topics found for : "marc carlton"
Post an entries now

MARC CARLTON Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to MARC CARLTON

Buy MARC CARLTON Music


Reflex ArcReflex Arc
Import
Dreaming/Musea 2008
Audio CD$4.42

More places to buy MARC CARLTON music online Buy MARC CARLTON & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
MARC CARLTON has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

MARC CARLTON discography


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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Passing Within Realtime
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
Voices Through Endless Walls
1999
3.92 | 3 ratings
An Ageless Sense
2002
3.25 | 3 ratings
Still
2004
3.97 | 9 ratings
Reflex Arc
2005
3.91 | 3 ratings
Bridge (with Kate Toft)
2006
3.33 | 2 ratings
Ovriah
2007
4.63 | 6 ratings
For Truth
2009
5.00 | 1 ratings
For Imagination
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Degrees Of Freedom
2015

MARC CARLTON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MARC CARLTON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Memories Of The Far Tide
2010

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

MARC CARLTON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 For Imagination by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2012
5.00 | 1 ratings

BUY
For Imagination
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by simbelmyne

— First review of this album —
5 stars 'For Imagination' is by far Marc Carlton's most abstract work. There are three tracks, all over 20 mins long, each split into subsections for which we are not given the time references. Combine this with progressively more 'far-out' themes and instrumentation over the course of the album and you begin to understand the demands this work places on the listener. Each track is a reflection on imagination and the inner life in a different dimension, with only the smallest crumbs of guidance given along the way. Here's what I've come to think over the past 4+ years...

The theme that draws together the first track, 'Cityscape', is imagination in the context of our everyday lives. Is the inner life of the mind compatible with our existence in a world that can often seek to distract us from it? This is seen in the sense of juxtaposition throughout the track, the interplay between synths and guitars an early example of this as a tight synthesiser rhythm sounds clean and sharp in contrast to the grungy electric guitar that meanders around it. The central question is also examined in another way. The track is peppered throughout with the sounds of human habitation: drills; traffic; chatter; to which the music then 'reacts' in various ways. This is the story of one mind's journey through the crowd, trying to come to terms with the reality and absurdity of other minds and of one's separateness from them.

At about 7:00, jarring, industrial sounding percussive clanks and bass notes create an uneasy rhythm, always shifting and unpredictable. Out of this grows something that touches the ethereal: the slow rise of the synthesiser here at once eerie and beautiful, it doesn't take over from the earlier rhythm but instead sits alongside it, transmuting it, like trespassing into something ancient and mysterious.

Something that must be mentioned is that after another brief quiet around 10:30, the sound of drills and building work unpleasantly cut through, heralding a brief heavy metal pastiche(!) It's bittersweet comic relief, as just as it gets going it abruptly breaks down to a commentary from the background of 'Argh!' Is it a comment on the kind of music we 'expect' to grow out of a bit of industrial drilling, as a failure of imagination? Or a reflection that not every fleeting idea that comes to mind can be successfully realised? I can't say, but I can tell you this is Carlton as his most obviously playful and tongue in cheek, and well worth longer consideration than the quick laugh of the comedy itself.

Around 13:00 chatter in the background and 'lounge music'-esque electric guitar evoke maybe a restaurant scene. The guitar becomes more and more meandering and then falls away, as if it can't maintain the melody it began. The section that follows and seems to be in opposition to this is fabulous, the guitar solo resolute and full of energy. Drums and harpsichord come in and refocus, reaffirm the theme. It carries you away with it until all of a sudden around the 18 minute mark it abruptly stops, leaving you with the sound of traffic and footsteps, and coming back to earth with a bump.

After this a sombre synth reflects as if trying to reconcile the two worlds. One note repeats, buzzy and insistent in the mix, reminiscent of a heartbeat or maybe the ringing of a telephone. Around it an eerie melody unfolds, interspersed with the occasional jarring piano notes to add to the tension and dread. When this resolves into rain and four last bells it is with a mixture of relief and trepidation. This serves to enhance the joy of the final section, the synth here dancing around the bass notes which gradually take over to tell a story of their own, grounding and accepting. The track does not end but rather fades out, signalling no ultimate conclusion or final twist but rather the continuation of the intercourse between the two things, imagination and reality. Carlton's liner notes indicate that although he views the separation of imagination from reality as important, "it is possible to live in both of these worlds simultaneously and without overlap." I think that is the idea at play here.

The second track, 'Somniare Aude, Sapere Aude' makes me think of imagination in its purest form, the unrestricted world of our dreams, not only from the title but also because the opening section reminds me so much of a lullaby. Perhaps in contrast to the previous track, the acoustic guitar and strings are so gentle and uncontested the sound is like the purest flight of unlimited fancy. The piano and pensively strummed guitar section at around 3 minutes in is reminiscent of Carlton's earlier album, 'Reflex Arc', and this is a comparison that recurs throughout the track, both in the instrumentation and in the way that one melody shifts dreamlike into the next. Brief moments of darkness, first introduced around the 9 minute mark, come not from external forces like in 'Cityscape' but instead organically unfold, signalling the power of imagination and the mind to take us to places of doubt and hesitation as easily as to those of wonder, and recalls the non-linear and surprising narratives of our dreams. Although the track is mostly gentle in tone there is plenty of energy within it, as can be seen around 13:38 when the drums come in and start a section full of motion and excitement. At first dreamy strings and piano take a back seat to the drums but increasingly begin to carry the story themselves. Later, there is a great back-and-forth between distorted guitar and the more gentle melody, with the latter then echoed by faint synths at 16:50 in a way that will put the hairs on the back of your neck on end. There is a real sense of synthesis between the more gentle sounds and the distorted elements, although they structurally seem to be in opposition they end up complementing each other, as if to say: our minds contain multitudes, but there is no real contradiction, they are all us. For me the final few incongruous notes once again recall a lullaby or child's musical box, pulling the various threads of the piece together.

After that we are straight into 'Outward' which is certainly the most unfamiliar territory for previous listeners of Carlton's work, or indeed previous listeners of music in general. A piece that owes a lot to both to Tangerine Dream at their most abstract and Robert Fripp's Soundscapes series, it certainly challenges the listener to look at it closely, and to keep doing so for almost half an hour! Here, spacey echoey synths evoke both a sense of vastness and a sci-fi feel, in a way that recalls the album's cover art. Like Soundscapes, it feels structureless at first but then shapes begin to appear in the rising and falling of the sound. This fades to one growly, deep note, growing gradually louder. Around it other sounds come and go, like huge unknown objects passing in the dark. The sounds change in pitch in a way that sounds like sirens or the calling of unknown creatures. (I may have been watching too much Star Trek: TNG but it makes me think of the season three episode, Tin Man). The sound is so alien and abstract that I can only describe it in such oblique ways. It's fascinating that in such a vacuum the ear eagerly grabs onto the first signs of what could become anything like a melody, so when the new synths grow out of the void at 6:49 they seem to carry all the more weight, asking us to reflect on what we've heard. There's something like a sadness to it, a loneliness, but it's calm - wise.

Around 11:40 this fades with a boom and once again we are left with quiet except for a rhythmic, repetitive sound that almost seems to be beeping, like a beacon emitting its signal into nothingness, over and over. More synths growing - impossibly slowly - louder, like the approach of something. A thrumming like engines. It's amazing what the brain projects onto something so minimal. I have a whole story worked out of a journey through space, approaching a new planet as, so gradually, the sounds become warmer and more familiar again (eventually there are drums and even guitar!) but I'm aware it is just that, projection. But that's exactly 'Outward''s fascination - it makes you examine that, what you bring of yourself to the music, the power of the listener's imagination. It's not just for the artists, it's for all of us.

If you haven't heard any of Carlton's work, I wouldn't start here. But I wouldn't miss it out either. For Imagination is unapologetic for what it is, which is music at its most serious, inviting and important. It toys with the role of listener, it makes no effort to ease the journey. But it's also brimming with reward for that effort. It's the essential nature of prog, pared back and unmitigated. I can't recommend it enough.

 For Truth by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.63 | 6 ratings

BUY
For Truth
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by simbelmyne

5 stars As other reviewers have mentioned, this is an album of many layers and much to demand of the listener. Although at first glance the set of sounds present makes it superficially similar to the previous couple of albums, in terms of density 'For Truth' is a very different beast, sharing more with Carlton's early work. There is so much going on in this album that it's taken me a long time to fully feel at ease with it. Despite this, the investment is well worth it- with moments here standing among Carlton's finest and most mature.

The title track introduces the album slowly, synths gradually building a reflective atmosphere which the lead guitar decisively cuts through at 3:40 and by the 5 minute mark has an energetic and fresh sound which reminds me somehow of the first track on 'Reflex Arc'. Guitar dances deftly around piano on this track in a scene-setting or laying out of principles for the album to come. At 9:25 particularly, a burst of distorted guitar adds passion and drive to the previously cerebral piano, which could showcase the relevance and intertwining of Carlton's liner note philosophy snippets into everyday life.

'One Possible Dream', a feat of primarily acoustic genius at nearly 12 minutes, starts at pace and sounds quite busy with close layers of different guitars. Rising and falling, in full flow and then suddenly hesitant, this is an exquisitely crafted piece that effortlessly sweeps you along in its story throughout. There's lots here that is reminiscent of Carlton's earlier album 'An Ageless Sense' and a favourite moment for me are the high notes in the first half of the seventh minute - the epitome of bittersweet.

In contrast, the opening strings of 'Ghosts Where Once We Hid' lie thick and heavy on the soul before the atmosphere brightens to make room for sparse guitar to tell its story from 2:15. Another exercise in bittersweet reflection, but one that seems to somehow resolve itself after 5:20, with the remainder of the track very different. It reminds me vaguely of a child's music box being reheard and remembered fondly as an adult- a nostalgia of sorts, but not a regretful one.

'Intersection Minor' is an obvious pair to the later 'Intersection Major'- both of which successfully help to break up an album otherwise made up of lengthy tracks. Unlike the latter, here the guitar is pensive and incredibly sad, at points seeming to sink into a hopeless and ruminating despair. Continuing this theme, 'Caught in the Fourth Wall' has a fantastic Silent Hill feeling to it, atmospheric and full of odd percussive elements; it is like being frozen in the dread and horror of absurdity, feeling half in and half out of touch with the world. The tension here is broken when its grumblings of discontent and alienation are given voice, made explicit by the entrance of the lead guitar at 4:38. Quite an unusual sounding track, and a personal favourite.

The following track, 'Mindfire', is a tricky one and can seem ass-backwards at first: almost as if it starts with a conclusion; a confident guitar exhausting and replenishing itself before dealing with breakdown and murmuring doubt in the middle section, resolving itself with a burble of building guitars before bursting out and surprising you with a reiteration of its main theme. One of the hardest tracks to get my head around but one which in turn I still feel has more to reveal to me yet after two years of listening.

'Return from Fading Landscapes', a turbulent and beautiful piece, starts with a plaintive buzzing like a siren call to memory. It's a track of contrasts as sparse and weighty keyboard work is interrupted abruptly by the guitar and percussion at 3:30, warming and brightening the whole thing. Full of fragility and gravity throughout, the strings at 5:13 add intensity before a breakdown at 6:04 which leaves keyboards echoing into nothingness. The piercing re-entry of the guitar at 6:50 is a peak of poignancy leaving the rest of the track pondering and consolidating its resolution.

The warm acoustic notes of 'Intersection Major' are welcome to the ear at this point, a pastoral and folksy piece with a more traditional structure that is executed with confidence. The following 'Reason or Die' concludes the album with a flourish, the brooding momentum of its percussion and strains of electric guitar reaching a crescendo in its 6th minute before leaving dreamy, pondering synths to end the album as they began it.

A few reviewers of Carlton's previous albums have labelled them 'relaxation' music, a judgement I have always felt to be short-sighted, but I particularly defy the reader to listen to this offering and say the same thing. If you believe that then you are simply not listening. This is extremely cerebral music absolutely packed full of stuff to ponder. If you want relaxation have a cup of tea and listen to whale song or something. If, however, what you want is brain food from a skilled and dedicated solo artist, you can't go far wrong with this.

 Bridge (with Kate Toft) by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.91 | 3 ratings

BUY
Bridge (with Kate Toft)
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Fourth bridge? Fifth really!

Marc Carlton is exclusively a solo writer and performer. All his releases to date have been instrumental albums on which he has been composer, musician, producer and technician. In 2006 however, he collaborated on this album with his partner Kate Toft under the name Bridge. This album thus sits between Carlton's "Still" and "Ofriah" releases. Uniquely for this album in addition to his guitar and keyboards contributions, Carlton also sings. The lyrics however come from Toft's poetry throughout. Toft is highly talented in her own right, being a poet, singer and multi-instrumentalist.

In terms of the musical content, it would be easy to simply describe it as a Marc Carlton album with vocals, for that is essentially what it is. The vocals do though make a big difference in terms of accessibility and perhaps commercial appeal. Listening to the opening "Origin", Carlton's voice is reminiscent of Mike Hugg or Mike Batt, being atmospheric rather than operatic. This shorter introductory track is largely reflective, with symphonic string synth backing the main vocal.

"Theatre rain" sees us gently drifting in to a more upbeat light instrumental with musical box type keyboards. This serves as an introduction to the longest track on the album, the 10+ minute "Wave to me". Here we come upon the delicate tones of Kate Toft's vocals for the first time. Her voice is similar in tone to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins, the sparse arrangement here placing her vocals well to the fore. The track has something of a folk feel to it, with acoustic guitar dominating instrumentally.

"Impasse" returns us to the ambient instrumental moods which prevail in much of Carlton's work, synth being the main instrument of choice. The track segues seamlessly into "No time", where Toft returns with a more orthodox melodic song. This 7 minute piece gradually builds and develops throughout, while retaining a largely straightforward melody.

At about 9½ minutes, "Colour" is the second of the feature tracks on the album. Initially, this piece is one of Marc's most abstract numbers, with Floydian lead guitar played over waves of ambient sound. "Alliances" is a stripped back solo piece by Carlton, featuring only his dulcet tones and acoustic guitar. The song is Tim Buckley like in its inherent simplicity.

Marc moves to piano for the barely audible fragility that is "Spent", a beautifully reflective solo. The song "My last breath" comes from Marc's "Far tide" project, the acoustic version here consisting simply of acoustic guitar plus vocals by Kate Toft. The album concludes with the brief "Kokoromachi", a further acoustic piece with soft vocalising by Toft.

While this may not strictly speaking be a part of Marc Carlton's solo discography, "Bridge" is an important component of his output. Here he offers a unique opportunity to enjoy his music complemented by vocals. Those vocal are far from intrusive, and the album remains largely instrumental. Those who have discovered Carlton's albums such as "Still" and "Reflex arc" will also find this album rewarding.

 For Truth by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.63 | 6 ratings

BUY
For Truth
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Not grandiloquent at all

"For truth" is Marc Carlton's latest album at time of writing, although he has recently completed work on "The far tide", a computer game related project. Released in 2009, this is is first full length album since "Reflex arc" in 2005, the interim "Ovriah" being a mini- album of material mostly written some years previously.

As with all his releases, Carlton writes, arranges and performs all the music himself. The theme of the album is a lamenting of the way genuine "truth" has been lost in a world of "subjective" truth, or as Carlton enigmatically puts it "rendered grandiloquent by postmodernist scorn".

This time around the tracks which make up the album are self contained pieces, with no attempt being made to link them together to form a whole. Thus we begin with the relatively lively 12 minute title track, which sees Carlton arguably at his most ambitious, then move directly into an equally long solo acoustic guitar rendition entitled "One Possible Dream". The latter resembles some of the more relaxed works of Steve Hackett or Anthony Phillips, the track as a whole displaying Carlton's admirable guitar virtuosity.

"Ghosts Where Once We Hid" is a fine arrangement of symphonic string synthesiser and acoustic guitar, similar to Vivaldi's "Guitar concerto" as adapted by Continuum and also Steve Howe. "Intersection Minor" is the first of a couple of brief interlude pieces, Steve Hackett's influence once again being apparent on this "Blood on the rooftops" like acoustic guitar rendition.

"Caught In The Fourth Wall" has a rather spacey atmosphere to begin with, before moving into perhaps the heaviest territory Carlton has ever allowed himself to stray into. There is a rather doomy undercurrent to the music here which belies any notion that Marc does not have ambitions beyond the pleasant and relaxing. Things brighten up again with "Mindfire", where melodic guitar is backed by symphonic strings.

"Return From Fading Landscapes" is the final track to breach 10 minutes (the album runs to over 70 minutes in total). Here we have an odd blend of the light and the dark, with melodic twinkling being counterpointed by some decidedly darker moods. Carlton's lead guitar work is the high point here.

The second of the interlude pieces is naturally called "Intersection Major" this "Horizons" like track running to under 2 minutes. The closing "Reason Or Die" draws together the moods and sounds of the album in a single, beautifully crafted piece. Chorale and string keyboards blend with some fine lead guitar and surprisingly intrusive percussion to create a track which is more demanding of the listener than the bulk of Carlton's work.

In all, "For truth" stands as Marc Carlton's most accomplished work to date. Here, he displays a confidence in both the technology he uses and his own talents, allowing him to explore more challenging territories than hitherto. The tenets which have serve him well on previous albums are still reassuringly in evidence, but here he uses those values as a foundation from which he builds something truly inspired.

 Ovriah by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.33 | 2 ratings

BUY
Ovriah
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Portrait of a man

In a fascinating, exclusive interview for this site in 2007 (see the Interviews section of the forum), Marc Carlton provides some interesting background to this album. "Ovriah" was one of the first pieces of music Marc ever wrote, but at the time he felt he did not have the skills or equipment to do the piece justice as a recording. An early acoustic version appeared as "Ovriah II", a track on Carlton's first album, but it took another 8 years for things to go any further. When he decided the time was right to commit the music to tape, the recordings were reasonably straightforward, helped in no small part by Marc's long time familiarity with the music.

When asked about the relatively short length of the album (a shade under 40 minutes), Marc says that he sees it as an EP or mini-album. Admirably, he says he resisted the urge to pad the album out simply to fill the space available on a CD. The music is intended as a "symphonic portrait" of someone called "Ovriah", in seven parts. "Ovriah" was a character in a book Carlton was writing in the mid-late 1990's.

The music here is closer to that which appeared on "Still" than on "Reflex arc", being generally more ambient and unhurried. Soft sound based colours dominate the early tracks, with waves of pleasant noise being preferred to discernible melodies. As the third section "Ovriah's Distance" develops, electric and acoustic guitars move us towards a more defined musical structure. This development is sustained on the following "Triumvirate", where harsh rock based lead guitar suddenly sends us in a completely unexpected direction. As such, this section represents the musical crescendo of the piece, a sort of apex if you will, after which we are gradually returned from whence we started.

Marc's affection for the music of Mike Oldfield becomes obvious on "Tabula Rasa", a more orthodox gentle rock section featuring lead guitar. Some fine piano rounds things off nicely on the closing "Who Sleeps In Throne Eternal".

In all, a highly enjoyable album of moods. There is little here by way of excitement (other than on "Triumvirate"), this most definitely is music to unwind to.

 Reflex Arc by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.97 | 9 ratings

BUY
Reflex Arc
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Contains some fine numbers

Released in 2005, a year after "Still", "Reflex arc" may perhaps be labelled as an abstract concept album. This is the only album to date not released by Marc through his own label, "Reflex arc" being distributed by Musea Records. The track titles give no hint as to the themes which link the tracks, as they simply restate the track numbers in narrative form from "One to "Sixteen".

According to Carlton, "this project carries the multifaceted theme of human responses; some unconscious, some we are aware of, but all of which make up who we are." The relative brevity of most of the tracks confirms that the album is intended to be heard as a complete piece, similar to many of the works of Carlton's inspiration Mike Oldfield. As with the work ethic of Oldfield, Marc once again plays all the instruments here, the emphasis being on guitars and keyboards.

Right from the opening track, ("One"!) it is apparent that Marc is seeking to distance himself from the new age nuances which were a feature of previous albums. Here, improvisation plays a much greater part, at least in the compositional phase. The sounds and themes are far more varied this time, with little in the way of overt repetition.

Highlights include "Three", where choral keyboard effects and melodic guitars combine in a beautiful cacophony of sound, and "Six" which sounds like it could have been lifted from Oldfield's "The songs of distant earth", the lead guitar here being particularity effective. The album is brought to the perfect conclusion with the ethereal "sixteen".

Overall, while this album has obvious structural similarities to the work of Mike Oldfield, I actually find it reminds me more of some of Anthony Phillips best works such as "Slow dance". The music here is that of a talented composer who is able to work within his own strict quality controls to create an album of great beauty and imagination. Recommended.

 Still by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.25 | 3 ratings

BUY
Still
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Already a memory

Marc Carlton is a man who appears to have his work/life balance just about right. Although he is a serious professional musician, he records his music in his spare time away from his real job. For obvious reasons, this means that he is able to record the sort of music that he feels he can be genuinely proud of, immune from the pressure of satisfying a commercially driven record label.

While this makes it less likely that he will ever get filthy rich from his musical output, it also means we can be confident that what we hear has been made with passion and total commitment.

Carlton wears his influences on his sleeve. The prog giants of the 1970's are clearly as much a source of pleasure for him as they are for many of us here. One artist in particular though, Mike Oldfield, has been more influential than any other over the years, perhaps due to Oldfield's status as the pioneer of multi-tracked "home" recording.

Released in 2004, "Still" is Marc's fourth official release. It finds him rapidly maturing technically, while immersing himself in progressively new age concepts ("Waiting and immobility", "Time and routine").

The album opens with "Beyond surprise", one of its the longest tracks. Beautifully clear acoustic guitar backed with barely audible soft keyboard washes set the mood for the piece. There is a passing Mark Knopfler ("Local hero") feel to the opening section before harsher lead guitar sounds attempt to pull us in a more rock orientated direction. Carlton works the balance between a calm, almost ambient mood on the one hand and something altogether more edgy well, the track retaining one's interest throughout.

The first of the "True wilderness" tracks is relatively brief symphonic number with waves of synthesiser supporting a soft melody. "Vista" is the other lengthy piece on the album, running to almost 9 minutes. The diversity of instrumental sounds here is testament to Oldfield's influence, with intricate lead guitar mixing freely with violin like orchestral passages.

"It never happened" opens with some atmospheric ambience, the piece as a whole having something of a Tangerine Dream feel to it. Here Carlton places a greater emphasis on repetition, a point emphasised by the hypnotic synth rhythm. "A future, already a memory" captures Marc's aspirations in the field of film music, the slow, considered acoustic motifs being ideal for some scene setting in a Hollywood blockbuster.

"Meanwhile" is arguably the most chilledtrack on the album, a soft Farfisa organ sound backing a gentle melody. The track is reminiscent of the slower section of "Hergest ridge" part 2. This segues into "True Wilderness II", a less structured affair which relies on waves of sounds. "Epos" is a pleasant but unassuming piano piece with classical overtones, while "He runs at night" is a more spirited classical guitar outing. The album closes with the brief "the far tide", a short piece of symphonic string synth.

In all, an album where the strongest and most interesting material is largely up front. Things tend to tale off into more prosaic areas towards the end, but overall "Still" makes for an enjoyable listen.

Since recording this album, Marc Carlton has continued to develop his talents both technically and musically. This is though a fine representation of where he was at in 2004, and is in itself a highly enjoyable album.

 For Truth by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.63 | 6 ratings

BUY
For Truth
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by The Rain Man
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'For Truth' is Marc Carlton's 7th album. Carlton has taken a different approach to this album compared to his previous 2 releases. This change in direction as installed a different dynamic and freshness to his music which is there for all to hear. This is a 9 track album where each track is self contained rather than being various parts of a longer track like 'Reflex Arc' and 'Ovriah, but still has over arching themes'.

The first track, 'For Truth' starts off slowly and gradually gathers pace over the first 3 minutes, acting as a nice build up using the synthesiser until 3 minutes 40 seconds where the guitar comes in, as crisp and as pure as ever. The track lasts for 12 minutes and is a great start to the album. Carlton once again shows off his ability and talent of creating longer tracks while conveying a relative simplicity to the listener which have that added depth to give the more a tentative listener a challenging listen. This makes the album's longevity longer which in turn makes it more appealing. What I mean by this is that it appears that the songs are easy to listen to on the surface. But when you really look into all the layers of the music and think that every instrument is played by Carlton himself. Makes everything all the more impressive.

Track 2., 'One possible dream' is another 10 minute plus track and shows how good a guitarist Marc is. Every pluck is so powerful and well thought out. It shows an artist who has gone way past just knowing just 3 chords; but someone who knows every fret and chord like the back of his hand.

Track 3 goes back to synthesiser land while 'Caught into the Fourth wall, the fifth track starts off as an eerie affair with a xylophone sound with a synthesiser backdrop. The xylophone type beats continue right the way through the song and when the electric guitar comes in at around the 4 minutes 30 seconds mark it is like a storm has passed over and not caused any damage. People are returning to their normal lives as the music has certain tranquillity about it at this point.

'Mind fire', the sixth track, picks up the pace and continues the electric guitar theme from the last track. At the two minute mark and even more powerful guitar sound comes in and repeats the same riff for a minute until the mood the song takes a dramatic shift from light to dark, going through a quiet acoustic jungle, as if any loud sound will wake up the dangers that are roaming the dense jungle.

The album finishes with a flourish. 'Reason or Die', explodes into life halfway through the track with some fine electric guitar work. It is if throughout the album there is a battle between light and dark, good against evil - Reason or Die. In this case it's like good prevails and overcomes evil. It is an excellent way to finish what is a well thought out and well constructed album.

Overall Carlton manages to not only sustain the high standard of work set by his previous albums but exceed it. The different approach he took to write and develop the album has kept things interesting not only for him but the listener too and has created something magical and timeless.

 Reflex Arc by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.97 | 9 ratings

BUY
Reflex Arc
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by simbelmyne

4 stars In Reflex Arc Carlton continues the shift away from earlier minimalism that began with Still. In sound Reflex Arc is immediately more accessible than its predecessors - more fleshed out, more richly textured - but it would be a mistake to infer from this that the themes are proportionally simpler or more superficial.

In fact, Reflex Arc is Carlton's Ulysses, it has a stream-of-consciousness feel which allows it to meander and reflect on itself whilst remaining deeply touching and poetic, brimming with all the different faces of human response. Carlton's choice not to name the tracks is not a lazy one, it is a clever move from a musician who believes in music as it removes the possibility of audience bias, instead forcing the listener to pay attention to the musical language itself to interpret each track.

The album quickly moves from deeply peaceful opening tracks through landscapes of exhilarating wonder to the more turbulent, flighty middle section and this is where the album's increased accessibility breaks down somewhat. The music becomes demanding, alternately building and breaking down, reprising earlier phrases in completely different tones. Parallel to the stream-of-consciousness idea I think you can also make a good argument for interpreting the album as an aural coming-of-age, from early naivete through disappointment, doubt, and the discovery of reality to the eventual reaffirming of vitality in the determined, joyous mission-statement that is Fifteen.

I would heartily recommend this album particularly as an introduction to Carlton's music. It is an excellent way to challenge and hone one's listening skills in preparation for some of his more obscure work!

 For Truth by CARLTON, MARC album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.63 | 6 ratings

BUY
For Truth
Marc Carlton Crossover Prog

Review by mitsubachi

5 stars 'For Truth', the latest album released by virtuoso progressive solo artist Marc Carlton, is strewn with an embarrassment of beautiful melodies - but there is so much more to this lush and epic album. These euphonious themes are further elevated by the elegant, ravishing atmospheres built up around them, and the questing, thoughtful progression within tracks which makes them so rewarding to listen to. Every time I listen to this album, a different track particularly strikes a chord within me, and it feels like there is always new subtlety to discover.

A piece I always find especially moving is the entrancing 'One Possible Dream'. So hopeful and poignant; sad, but calm and confident at the same time. The classical guitar sound is perfect, and, well - true. It's epic but in a gentle and very beautiful, graceful way - with subtle ideas masterfully depicted - such as the delicacy of possibility and hope recalled exquisitely by shimmering guitar at 6.58.

'Ghosts Where Once We Hid' could be described as mournful, even grievous - but never negative. This is a reflection, a reminiscence that recalls and re-experiences without harsh judgement. I defy any listener not to feel a sharp pang in their core at 5.30, when the introduction of an EP so pure, peaceful, reflective and melancholy but again not heavy or unpleasant, is like the pure aural essence of bittersweet nostalgia.

More forthright and assertive is 'Mindfire', where the classic Carlton electric guitar sound evokes the determination and drive of a long struggle that ultimately finds resolution and distillation.

'Return From Fading Landscapes', one of 3 tracks on the album to break the golden 10-minute mark, creates a real sense of space and scale - the instruments and percussion allowed to breathe and impart all their subtlety. The achingly beautiful, echoing ending is reminiscent of recollections of distant dreams, or memories on the edge of sleep.

On repeated listens, this album feels like the most confident and mature of Marc Carlton's work to date. That should not be taken to say other releases were less worthy, but that this album is even more satisfying, confident, and complex - and beautifully constructed and skilfully performed throughout. The whole has achieved a new level of integration, which is truly marvellous for the ears and soul.

Thanks to Garion81 for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives