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Chris Neal biography
Chris NEAL is an Australian composer and multi instrumentalist who has done most of his tune smithing far from the world of progressive rock. His focus has been on soundtracks for movies and television for much of his 40 plus years in the music business. Many of us may inadvertently know of NEAL's work from him being the composer of the theme and other music from early episodes of the TV series "Farscape", performed by the NEAL family trio of Chris, Toby and Braedy under the name SUBVISION.

What brings Chris NEAL to the attention of the progressive rock community is the album "Winds Of Isis" (WOI), an Australian rarity from 1974. In this work NEAL offers up large doses of Mellotron vibes, plus gives us passages where he could be mistaken for Mike OLDFIELD or David GREENSLADE or Keith EMERSON in the given moment as he takes on playing duties for almost all the instruments used. WOI is largely a keyboard-driven work, though NEAL proves he is a bona fide guitarist and drummer as well as someone prepared to put almost anything through the Mu-tron synthesiser. The list of instruments used on WOI (mentioned in approximate order of appearance) reads: Moog synthesiser, piano, Mellotron vocal choir, Mu-tron scream, valley bell, Mu-tron Leslie wow pedal wind, Hammond B3 organ, celeste, glockenspiel, Hammond organ bass pedals, acoustic guitar, Mellotron cellos, Chinese marching drum, clavinet, triangle, Mellotron strings, bass guitar, finger cymbals, Mu-tron choir, drums, mandolin, Gibson electric guitar, sleigh bells, nose flutes, Mu-tron clavinet, Mu-tron guitar, bottleneck guitar, recorder, harmonica, cowbells.

After "Winds Of Isis" Chris NEAL has spent most of his working time on the aforementioned movie and television soundtracks. There are nearly 20 feature film scores credited with NEAL as the composer, and upward of 1,000 hours of television drama featuring his work. In 2005 NEAL, along with son Braedy, won the APRA (Australian Performing Right Association) Award for Best Music for Children's Television for "Foreign Exchange: Episode 1".

Chris NEAL has long been active in ensuring that film and television composers in Australia retain the rights associated with their work. He joined APRA in 1972, and has been on the APRA board as the Non-executive Writer Director since 2000. NEAL is also a founding member and past President of the Australian Guild of Screen Composers, as well as a founding member of the Australian Federa...
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3.62 | 11 ratings
Winds Of Isis

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Winds Of Isis by NEAL, CHRIS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.62 | 11 ratings

Winds Of Isis
Chris Neal Crossover Prog

Review by sl75

3 stars In some respects this album reminds me of Rick Wakeman's Six Wives. Like that album, there is the claim of an overarching narrative concept (although the concept of Winds of Isis is never spelt out at any point in liner notes, only hinted in some evocative titles). Like that album, the music doesn't often strongly evoke the claimed concept. Like that album, it seems to be more about showing off how many keyboards Chris Neal owns and how well he can play them. The compositions are very simple, often sounding like the backing tracks to unfinished pop/rock songs, often quite repetitive (the well-named "Ritual Eternal" being a case in point). There is plenty of mellotron and plenty of analog synthesizer. Neal is a very good keyboardist, but not jaw-droppingly virtuosic. The album is a pleasant listen, but rarely an exciting one.
 Winds Of Isis by NEAL, CHRIS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.62 | 11 ratings

Winds Of Isis
Chris Neal Crossover Prog

Review by T.Rox
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One for the Mellotron fans!

Aussie Chris Neal's one and only claim to fame in the progressive rock field is the 1974 Mellotron-drenched instrumental offering Winds Of Isis.

The work itself is competent, though not overly complex, and Neal displays good skills on the Mellotron and the other keyboards employed, as well as the various guitars, bass, drums and other percussion he plays. He also has a penchant for the Mu-tron synthesiser, which is put to good use throughout WOI. With the exception of some bass playing and drumming on a few tracks, Chris Neal plays all the instruments, somewhat in the mould of Mike Oldfield. At times the music takes on a very Oldfield type of sound, too.

My favourite track is the side-long, seven-part epic, "The Winds Of Isis Legend", which explores many moods over its nearly 20 minute time span. "Ritual Eternal", WOI's next longest track at a bit over eight minutes is another highlight.

Throughout the album one is reminded of keyboard greats such as David Greenslade (the Pentatauch Of The Cosmogany album comes to mind, though I haven't heard this in some time), and touches of Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman. There is even a little honky-tonk style piano here and there as would be used by messers Emerson and Wakemen from time to time.

A disappointment is that there are no liner notes to support the story of what appears to be an instrumental concept album. (To help there are what appear to be 'clues' at the end of some tracks to give a little context, for example "Into The Valley Of The Ancients" is followed by the contextual reference "a glimpse of Isis".)

An album recommended for Mellotron enthusiasts! 3.5 stars for this Australian rarity, rounded to 4.0 as decreed by the laws of mathematics!

Thanks to T.Rox for the artist addition.

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