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BREATHING SPACE

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Breathing Space biography
Formed in 2005, UK outfit BREATHING SPACE originally started out as a solo album buy Mostly Autumn keyboard player Iain Jennings. He entered the studio in 2005, bringing along Liam Davison (guitars), Bryan Josh (guitars), Andrew Jennings (drums) and Olivia Sparnenn (vocals) to record a solo album under his own name, entitled Breathing Space.

The band as such was formed during the support tour for the album, with a core unit consisting of Iain Jennings (keyboards) and Olivia Sparnenn (vocals) now featuring Mark Rowen (guitars), Paul Teasdale (bass) Ben Jennings (keyboards) and Andrew Jennings (drums).

In 2007 Andrew left. At this stage he was involved in three different bands, and that became too much to handle. Howard Sparnenn filled in for a few concerts before a prmanent replacement was found in the shape of Barry Cassels (drums). John Hart (sax, flute) also joined the band at this stage, and this line-up went into the studio in 2007 to create the first true band effort as Breathing Space, released later the same year named Coming Up for Air.

In early 2009 Mark Rowen left Breathing Space. Liam Davison (guitars) of Mostly Autumn filled in until a permanent replacement could be found, just in time to partake in the studio sessions for the third Breathing Space album. Davison couldn't stay on for long though, and when his tenure ended Bryan Josh (guitars) was willing to join the band on a temporary basis. The band have also opted for less extensive use of sax and flute for the future, which ended John Hart's tenure as a permanent band member.

In August 2009 Breathing Space issued their most recent effort, called Below the Radar.

Breathing Space official website

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BREATHING SPACE discography


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BREATHING SPACE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 8 ratings
Breathing Space
2005
3.56 | 9 ratings
Coming up for Air
2007
3.73 | 18 ratings
Below the Radar
2009
3.95 | 3 ratings
My Dark Surprise
2013

BREATHING SPACE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 5 ratings
Below The Radar - Live
2011

BREATHING SPACE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Below The Radar - The Live DVD
2011

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

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

BREATHING SPACE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 My Dark Surprise by BREATHING SPACE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.95 | 3 ratings

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My Dark Surprise
Breathing Space Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I deeply enjoyed Bryan Josh, when he founded Mostly Autumn and blessed us with their first three spectacular recordings but as soon as he took over the entire direction, they have sputtered, in my opinion. The reason is that Josh cannot make attractive prog-pop music because he is better at writing epic soundtracks. All along, save for a brief moment, was perennial keyboard and composer Iain Jennings, a true master of the ivories who began his solo career with a debut album called Breathing Space, introducing a new band by that name that featured the magnificent Oilivia Sparnenn. She subsequently became MA's lead lung, replacing the cocky Heather Findlay and fit in nicely upon Breathing Space's abrupt ending. Iain has rejoined the Josh train and Olivia has now married Mr.Josh ! His second solo album is most welcome as it's just a newer, more modern version of Breathing Space. What I do not get, is that Iain's work (4 albums in all) is way beyond the current Mostly Autumn, a spinning wheel band that has lost its original identity. I guess Jennings was keeping his best material for himself, since Josh kept rejecting them, preferring his own gravelly arrangements.

"Take Control" is as apt a title to kick off this jewel, a tremendously appealing track that has a way more urbane feel, recalling the finer neo-prog acts in recent memory, whilst showcasing a new talent in lead vocalist Mark Chatterton, hitherto unknown to this reviewer but with a definite Ray Wilson feel. There is a certain brash confidence that exudes from the groove, a dense, monolithic barrage of sound, screaming guitars, brooding bass undertow and wild drum patterns. Taking control, indeed!

"Change the Shape" just takes the next step a tad forward, mentioning "computer control'' and "creating chaos" within a driving chorus, bashing forward with unmitigated sheen., all players clearly involved in gelling. The fast and furious metallic tinges illustrate a very futuristic sound, a new found version of power-prog, relentless, moody and aggressive. A whistling synth solo defines the author as a studied soloist and not just a clever composer.

"Hidding My Fears" is ballad territory, a brief respite "far beyond the madness", vocal and piano intertwined in a common embrace. There is a palpable propensity towards sheer emotion and passion, when presented in the simplest vessel can only be successful if the delivery and the message are utterly believable. This is just plain beautiful, no other words are needed.

The killer track here is the robotic, dance-vectored, power-pop extravaganza title track, flashing hints of Ultravox, Depeche Mode, OMD, Kraftwerk all thrown into the pot, with a magnetic trance-like intro that winks at recent Galahad. A stretched out Roxy Music-like saxophone floating in its exotic juices spices up the flow, choir wailings resonate deeply. The glorious vocals from newcomer Mark Chatterton are soulful yet also wrapped in a veil of ennui that is quite intoxicating. Very cool indeed, Ferry, Gahan, Ure and company would be proud.

"Stand inside the Shadow" is raunchier rock with Blue Oyster Cult styled histrionics, punchy, groovy and delirious. The fret boards are front and center and certainly call attention to themselves. The spirit is liberated from any constraint, which only provides even more quality to the melodies and the playing. The hypnotic onslaught is further enhanced by another welcome sax blast (a wonderful but rare prog detail) and a gloomy effect-laden voice. The mid-section jam elicits comparisons with Ozric Tentacles, as the players just converge towards some unseen goal, wailing female backing vocals take this into the stratosphere. Bloody brilliant!

The riveting "That's Why I fly" is brooding, desperate, highly addictive, this could be a 'hit' in a better prog-oriented world. Sentimental, malaise-ridden and decidedly European, the clanging piano lead introduces another strong vocal, the chorus soaring into the heavens and ensuring the theme's placement into one's pleasure zone. There is also a cinematographic quality that is undeniable.

The next two tracks are good but nothing comparable to the other material presented here: "A Choice to Make a Change" is a track that required a few revisits as I really missed the point the first two times. Not that it's terribly complicated, it just has a different feel, more urgent and poetic though the lyrics impressed from the get-go. "Nowhere in my Head" is the only track I did not enjoy, too close to Josh's recent gravelly style and as such sounds more like MA than anything else. Iain delves into some interesting synth patches (a slight Celtic tinge) but the vocals just do not do it for me.

The other massive prize is the whimsically unpredictable "A Mirror of Me", a soothing foray into dream atmospherics, highly evocative and drenched in sad melancholia. Elegant piano leads the arrangement, slippery synths and intense vocals entering through the reflective corridor and expanding towards the heavens. Punishing drums courtesy of the stellar Gavin Griffiths (Karnataka, Fish, Panic Room and of course Mostly Autumn)! "Just your Genetic" ends this little jewel on a high note, Iain caressing the piano keys with superior restraint, the massed guitars bruising a hallowed path, painted with obvious fresh tendencies. Powerful and bombastic, the grandiose elements that make this such a joy to listen to are all highly apparent. The pummeling bass bashes along devilishly.

This rewarding release seeks to highlight a more urban feel, certainly miles away from the predictable pseudo-pop Mostly Autumn fare, suggesting perhaps that Josh should rely more on Jennings' overt talent for melody and atmosphere. As such, my mind is made up and Jennings will always be one of my prog heroes. By continuing his solo vision, Iain just provides my needed Breathing Space.

4.5 shadowy disclosures

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 Breathing Space by BREATHING SPACE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.57 | 8 ratings

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Breathing Space
Breathing Space Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars British keyboardist and composer Iain Jennings belongs among the important figures of Mostly Autumn, being part of their most productive period and popularity's peak.In 2005 Jennings decided to record and release privately his first solo album ''Breathing space''.All musicians particapting in the album were current or future members of the Mostly Autumn line-up: Olivia Sparnenn on vocals, Liam Davison on guitars/bass, Bryan Josh on guitars and Andrew Jennings on drums.

Jenning's first solo output sounds like a less-symphonic and-folk flavored version of MOSTLY AUTUMN, where accesible melodies lead the music to very memorable atmospheres with a nice instrumental background, a bit like PAATOS and PANIC ROOM.And that's because the album contains also lots of electronic loops next to the natural instrumentation.Compositionally the album is varied still very consistent with Jennings offering from synth-drenched instrumental themes and grandiose, melodic rockers to melancholic ballads and modern Electronic soundscapes.The guitars deliver some lovely melodies, not far from CAMEL's recent works, while Sparnenn's vocals are absolutely fantastic, suiting perfectly with the very atmospheric music.A few pop sensibilities are also thrown in for good measure, but basically ''Breathing space'' is a pure Progressive/Art Rock album with a flexible and at moments impressive instrumental depth and a very balanced sound.The last couple of tracks, which are also the longest ones, are excellent examples of Jenning's composing talent, a mix of spacey soundscapes with melodic Symphonic Rock and Electronic Music of high quality with very limited vocals and extended instrumental textures.

A work of full beautiful melodies, different emotions and varied stylistic expressions.A must have for all fans of the accesible side of Progressive Rock.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Below the Radar by BREATHING SPACE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.73 | 18 ratings

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Below the Radar
Breathing Space Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I really enjoyed Iain Jennings' first solo album that was titled Breathing Space, which subsequently evolved rather cleverly into a band name. He then left Mostly Autumn and forged his own path , releasing this third opus featuring the incredible voice of the sultry Olivia Sparnenn (a former and perhaps ongoing Mostly Autumn backing vocalist to the now departed Heather Findlay). Now, let's get one thing perfectly clear, this is not progressive rock at its most explorative, relying instead on a rockier, ultra-tight delivery that is closer to Magenta than anything, highlighting the fabulous vocals and a strong song structure. What makes it such a treat is that the first listen is really not convincing, requiring multiple and focused auditions before rendering a proper reviewer opinion. There is a definite period of adjustment needed to fall into the grasp of their breathing space.

The title track blasts with unabashed fury, a solid, concrete ramble that is both merciless and elegant , guitars rasping deliriously and the rhythm section fully turbo-charged , a cool melody and a poppy veneer like a hard version of Renaissance or recent Mostly Autumn. The mood quickly veers into more euphoric environments with the gentler "Clear", a nebulous piece that grooves breezily, a masterful vocal performance as well as a subtle little synth solo from bandleader Jennings complete the deal. Very nice indeed, great car driving music by the way, the method that eventually got me hooked to this record. The sadness drips gently on the gorgeous "Lantern for a Smile", a ravishing melody sung with despairing agony, tainted with some distant horizon of hope. Fans of superb female vocals will not believe their ears, Olivia is a star! Different than Findlay, she actually is just as convincing in the sweeping soft tones as the harder-edged stuff (The only slight Findlay weakness, in my opinion). There is an epic orchestral beauty that now starts taking over the disc, a previously undetected charm that eventually becomes clear, as one of the first of 2 absolute summits "The Night Take You Home" floats gently under the radar, a beguiling musical hypnosis that has that Magenta feel I mentioned earlier , Olivia bellowing a series of magnificent chorus and verse, a serene groove keeping it majestically symphonic thanks to a Jennings keyboard barrage , starring a bluesy organ solo and a slippery synth solo which befits his fame. Absolutely deadly, a fragile piece of exquisiteness, a tune that will stick in your head for many weeks to come. "Run From Yourself" explores the spikier territories Jennings obviously loves, a vast array of reeling organ solos propelled without pity, a deep furrow that rocks along, splitting the vocal duties as well with the crisp Olivia to great effect, a convincing romper that bubbles with vivacity. Hints of classic stuff here, a raucous festival of shivering ivory. The naturally pristine "Dusk" is a short selection laced with grace and elegance, piano and voice combining to reach celestial heights and deeply affect the romantic sensibilities. The colossal electronica of "Behind Closed Doors" is extremely adroit and appropriate, an icy mood kept arctic with brutally cold guitar fills, in ambush of a huge chorus that has "memorable" stamped all over it. A zippy synthesizer lead shrugs with impudence, the mood settling for a vivacious finale, Olivia crooning with intense revelation (sounding close to Maggie Reilly of Mike Oldfield fame). "Drowning" is another cheerless affair, with a despondent vocal line that shrieks with pain, a huge chorus that scours the skies and a delicate piano that puts the head to the pillow. The second summit is the fitting final epic , a lucid nearly 10 minute classic in "Questioning Eyes" where a cello introduces the scintillating Sparnenn voice )"just close your eyes", the Renaissance-like symphonics becoming obvious (a superb acoustic guitar courtesy of Liam Davison, who finally gets out from the shadow of the more flamboyant Bryan Josh). Check out the massive axe solo and see what I mean! Gigantic!

What an incredible recording, needing an open-mind and an attentive ear, as well as the right environmental circumstance. Way better and more polished than the last few Mostly Autumn offerings and an essential member of the current British prog scene. Iain Jennings has made the right choices Place with other female fronted bands like Iona, Legend, Nemezis, Strawberry Fields, Panic Room, Karnakata, The Reasoning, Blackmore's Night , Mostly Autumn or Magenta. The packaging is modern and yet breathtaking, bathing in deep green light. I love this album. Near perfection ,

5 estrogen blips

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 Breathing Space by BREATHING SPACE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.57 | 8 ratings

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Breathing Space
Breathing Space Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars As a general rule, I dislike labeling, tagging and classifying even though I work with accountants professionally. I guess the element I admire most in prog is the rebellious tendency to go beyond the norm and the doctrinaire, searching for the musical chameleon that will light my fire. Some have anointed this as barely prog, a moniker which I find surprising in view of the wide girth progressive rock has been given. This debut solo album from former Mostly Autumn keyboardist Iain Jennings has evolved into a band project that parallels the mother ship only through its members (drummer Andrew Jennings, guitarist Liam Davison and hot singer Olivia Sparnenn), as the material relies a great deal on Iain's dexterous keyboard tapestries. Frankly since his departure from MA, my interest level has dipped somewhat, leader Bryan Josh preferring a more commercial sound that is hit and miss with me. So what's this album like, you may ask? The contemporary artwork reveals little of the content inside, a distant wink at Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark debut but with different colors. A few masterful tunes such as the epic instrumentals "Escape", a colossal foray that recalls the moody expanses of "Distant Train" off the Mostly Autumn Passengers album and the ultra-modern "Man Made Circles" with its loads of current beats and some fine tortured guitar playing. These two pieces are worth admission price alone, absolutely memorable and atmospheric. Where some might get a tad lost in the process lies with the vocal pieces, certainly more tune-oriented material that recall the Karnataka/Magenta/ The Reasoning realm of estrogen voiced propulsion. "Shades of Grey" is very cool with its lilted chorus and extended sweeping synth solo and "Belief" supplies a whopping Josh guitar rant. The lengthy "You Still Linger" has some nice orchestrations within very familiar MA territory, giving Olivia room to stretch her lung tissue and supplying a raging finale with blistering key and fret board expressions. The other tracks are pleasurable pieces that flirt with commercial rock, at times anthemic ("I've Been Thinking"), romantic ("No Promises") and falling within the confines of classic rock balladry ("Wasted All the Time"). In all, half of this album is pure genius and the other more mainstream, with no hint of tin whistles, uillean pipes, fiddles or such to be found, one wonders what musical breadth Breathing Space will aspire to conquer in the future. In the meantime, the tremendous "Escape" remains a personal fave that seemingly finds itself in all my playlists. Hmmmmm! 4 air pockets.

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 Coming up for Air by BREATHING SPACE album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.56 | 9 ratings

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Coming up for Air
Breathing Space Crossover Prog

Review by Hercules

4 stars Breathing Space have a considerable overlap with Mostly Autumn; Ian Jennings, Olivia Sparnenn and Liam Davison all being members of both bands. However, Breathing Space is a very different animal, being a far more jazz influenced, sophisticated "song" band than the Celtic folk influenced MA.

The first album was very much an Iain Jennings solo affair with back up from other musicians and tended to be rather keyboard dominated, but this is a true band effort with a nice balance. The songs are well developed and constructed, but don't expect any epics, all tracks being roughly in the 4-6 minute range.

Standout tracks are Time Tells all the Unknown, the slower and beautiful Don't Turn a Blind Eye and Head Above the Water, which features some excellent sax playing from John Hart. There isn't an unpleasant or duff track anywhere in sight. Mark Rowan contributes some fine guitar solos and Iain Jennings fills in all the gaps with his usual consummate ease on keyboards. Olivia Sparnenn has a really fine voice and a considerable stage presence to boot.

Whether it's really prog or not is debatable. It's not particularly ground breaking or adventurous, but it's very well played and composed. I'd class it as marginal for inclusion as prog, but it's a damn fine album. I was lucky enough to see them play the whole album live in York and enjoyed it immensely. It's not going to appeal to death metal or avant fans, but to those who like melodic, sophisticated, slightly jazz-rocky songs with great musicianship and female vocals, check it out.

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 Below the Radar by BREATHING SPACE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.73 | 18 ratings

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Below the Radar
Breathing Space Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This sophomore edition effort from UK's Breathing Space is a rather pleasant experience. However, despite their branding by some as a progressive rock band, those looking for highly sophisticated, challenging music won't find much to please their tastes on this effort.

Musically Breathing Space explores a rather simplistic part of the progressive rock territory, with a distinct mainstream tinge to it. Te compositional structures are pretty straightforward, the melodies easyflowing and slick affairs - with just about enough alterations in pace and style to be regardeed as something more than just plain, radio-friendly rock. On this particular album, symphonic textures and a few excursions into vintage art rock territories are additional traits added to the compositions, resulting in a sound that comes across as a blend of AOR and neo progressive rock.

The songs in themselves are pretty easygoing affairs, without many intriguing dimensions to them from an instrumental point of view. The lead vocals of Olivia Sparnenn does add quite a lot to these excursions though. She has a good voice and know how to utilize it, and I suspect many of the tracks are made to be somewhat on the subdued side instrumentally to get the most out of those vocals.

All in all this results in a rather well made effort, dominated by strong and distinct female lead vocals, with an instrumental backdrop that should cater for the tastes of those who enjoy mainstream-oriented art rock of the symphonic variety as well as vintage neo progressive rock.

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