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SECONDS BEFORE LANDING

Crossover Prog • United States


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Seconds Before Landing biography
US project SECONDS BEFORE LANDING is the creative vehicle of composer and musician John Crispino, who set out to create a concept album back in 2011. Two years later, following contributions from numerous guest musicians and other helpers, "The Great Deception" was released. At least for now as a digital production only.

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3.92 | 24 ratings
The Great Deception
2013

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SECONDS BEFORE LANDING Reviews


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 The Great Deception by SECONDS BEFORE LANDING album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 24 ratings

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The Great Deception
Seconds Before Landing Crossover Prog

Review by HAL

4 stars Albums opens with a dense rhythm accompanied by news reels and interviews connected to the Roswell incident. This sci-fi mystery pretty much sets the stage for the content of this album. 'The Great Deception' obviously deals with the prospect of alien presence on our planet, and the authorities' efforts to keep the truth hidden from public. Also, there is a certain sense of apocalyptic visions present in these tracks.

Seconds Before Landing is the project of John Crispino, who pretty much composes and performs many instruments, with great aid from a selection of most experienced musicians. Reading from the bands website, the album follows the conceptual idea of a dystopian world, mirrored through the mind of the composer. The use of spoken word and sound clips from newsreels and vintage radio commercials on top of instrumental parts is used with (mostly) great effect, although a bit exaggerated in places. Album ends with 'Message in a field' with narration of what is supposed to be message from aliens in the form of crop circles. The famous 'Crabwood alien' which depicts and alien shaped head accompanied with a (compact?) disc, encoded in 8-bit ASCII. A rather unpleasant and dystopian prophecy, but still with a glance of hope!

John Crispino sings on a number of the tracks, and quite successfully so! His somewhat fragile voice fits in very well with the mood on the vocal tracks. Musically, the album hovers around in the symphonic/bluesy prog landscape, with some soaring guitar work for the most part signed by the versatile notarity of Trey Gunn. Also Tim Bogert (from Vanilla Fudge, and Beck, Bogert and Appice) contributes on some tracks. Echoes of Pink Floyd are obvious, but in a modern context more closely linked to Porcupine Tree, and a number of bands associated with their pocket of 'Eclectic Prog' (Disconnect, Demians and even Peter Thelen's 't' project comes to mind). A few tracks lean too much towards plain pop music for my taste and some parts must be considered fillers, but with 14 tracks (mostly in 5-7 minute category), there are plenty of pieces to enjoy.

John Crispino thinks we are not alone. That certainly bargains for more musical journeys into sci-fi territory in the future. This debut is worth checking out for all of you sci-fi fans out there. 3.5 stars, rounded up for his devotion to the great mysteries of our time.

The truth is out there.

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 The Great Deception by SECONDS BEFORE LANDING album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 24 ratings

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The Great Deception
Seconds Before Landing Crossover Prog

Review by maani
Special Collaborator Founding Moderator

4 stars First, let me say that, setting aside a quibble or two, this is almost certainly my favorite album of 2013. And that has less to do with any specific personnel, "song" or individual aspect of the album than it does with the fact that the old adage "they just don't write'em like that anymore" does NOT apply here. This is a "progressive" album in every sense of that term, and is somehow able to both evoke the heyday of a particular genre of progressive rock (i.e., have a certain "timeless" quality to it) and to be both timely and relevant in the present.

The primary writer here is John Crispino, about whom little seems to be known except that he is a "composer and musician." (He plays drums, keyboards, and percussion, and provides most of the vocals.) He is joined by a distinguished group of musicians, most notably Trey Gunn (King Crimson) and Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus).

The effects-laden album -- which is a somewhat loose concept album about a dystopian future -- is quite dark and grim most of the time, evoking some of the darker aspects of Pink Floyd and King Crimson. Indeed, if I had to describe the overall "effect" of the album in one sentence, I would say that it was the bastard child of Pink Floyd (particularly parts of The Wall, The Final Cut, Momentary Lapse of Reason, and Division Bell) and King Crimson (particularly parts of In the Court of the Crimson King, Construktion of Light and Power to Believe), with a dash of Porcupine Tree, and an overall "atmosphere" of Alan Parsons. [N.B. It is astounding to me that of all the possible influences on this album that have been noted in dozens of articles, not one of them mentions Parsons -- yet it is HIS overall approach to concept albums (as well as writing and production) that jumped out at me almost constantly.]

In fact, the "associations" here are quite remarkable. Parsons, of course, engineered Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother, and its genre-definitive Dark Side of the Moon. The engineer on The Great Deception is Andy Jackson, who assisted on The Wall and The Final Cut, and was primary engineer on Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell. And Trey Gunn provided bass guitar on Construktion of Light and "Warr" guitar on Power to Believe. [N.B. All of this makes me wonder (without taking anything away from Mr. Crispino) how much influence both Mr. Gunn and Mr. Jackson had on the WRITING here, and not simply the guitar playing or engineering.]

Of course, few bands were as able to evoke "dystopianism" as Pink Floyd (particularly with The Wall and The Final Cut). And although those dystopias were in the "past," the near-future dystopia evoked here owes much to those albums.

Approximately half the tracks on the album have actual "lyrics," while the other half have either spoken-word vocals and/or "recorded" voices. Re the former, Mr. Crispino sings all but one of the songs, and has a pleasant voice that is (mostly) expressive of the particular song. Re the latter, we get both male and female spoken and/or recorded voices, the latter being mostly of the type heard in some Pink Floyd tracks (think "Run Like Hell" or "The Trial" from The Wall). The female recorded voice is used to excellent effect in a few places, where its oh-so-calm voice is betrayed by what she is actually saying (mostly castigation and threats).

The music tends toward heavy bass lines (including a few truly infectious rhythms), with most tracks featuring a guitar solo at some point. These solos, mostly by Mr. Gunn (using a variety of electronic effects) are evocative of (in order of percentage) David Gilmour, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, and John Frusciante, and are all quite good, and always appropriate for the track.

One of the more?interesting aspects of the album is the inclusion of mini-ads for a variety of products, which appear between the tracks (a dozen in all). These ads (which may or may not be for real products) evoke ads of the 40s and 50s. On first listen, I found these ads somewhat jarring. Even now, I can only think of two reasons for their inclusion. One is to simply break the "grimness" of the overall album. The other is to evoke a sense of "normalcy" amid the dark, dystopian atmosphere (which would also explain why it would be ads from the 40s and 50s). In either case, I am not certain they needed to appear between EVERY two track on the entire album; half that number (or even less) would have sufficed. (This is one of my quibbles.) For the record, these ads include hats, cigars, foodstuffs, "iron" and "vitamins," and a variety of bathroom products (hair cream, nose drops, pimple cream, shampoo et al).

My quibbles? The inclusion of the ads (or, at least, so many of them); the "opening-guitar solo-closing" structure of almost every track; and the inclusion of the song, "Mikey Get Your Accordian." While it is a truly lovely, even haunting, song, I am at an even greater loss as to its presence on the album than I am about the ads.

Yet, all that said, The Great Deception exhibits an excellent channeling of its influences, and superb musicianship, production and "atmospheres," and is a fabulous achievement in progressive rock. I can hardly wait for the next album.

[N.B. Although not quite a "masterpiece," I would give this album an extra half star if I could.]

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 The Great Deception by SECONDS BEFORE LANDING album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.92 | 24 ratings

BUY
The Great Deception
Seconds Before Landing Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars US project SECONDS BEFORE LANDING is the creative vehicle of composer and musician John Crispino. He commenced work on this venture in 2011 and for the next two years worked to finalize his musical ideas into the album "The Great Deception": A concept album with a dystopian storyline, set at a point not too long in our future.

Seconds Before Landing has been marketed as a band exploring ambient progressive rock, a description that dos summarize quite a lot about what's going on I guess. In terms of sound I often caught myself thinking about Trey Gunn's Quodia project from a few years back when I listened to this one. Not that similar in sound really, but some musical details and the overall mood is to some extent comparable.

The majority of the compositions on this disc revolves around bass details. Toned down circulating bass motifs more often than not, and of a groove oriented variety first and foremost. Gentle and mostly plucked, often resonating instrument details supplements this basic melodic framework, with various layers of futuristic inspired sounds placed on top. Occasionally we're treated to a harder edged guitar motif or a more majestic synth motif too, but most of all we're dealing with careful, gentle and indeed ambient constructions. The main element that transports these songs out into more energetic territories are lead vocals and rhythms with more of an intense delivery, which doesn't happen that often really, and longing guitar soloing Pink Floyd style, which is a key feature frequently employed throughout.

Otherwise spoken word samples from or inspired by 1950's radio commercials are used to tie the different songs together and as an identity enhancing feature, some spoken words sequences are also used in the songs as such, supplementing the mostly spoken male voice and female lead and backing vocals. All of this set in a mix with a dark and bleak yet warm and organic sound, a superb mixing and producing job that really does elevate the listener experience quite a bit. Most impressive to me were the radio friendly, catchy and groove-laden affair They're All Around You, with the extremely enticing bass motif central in Right Before Your Eyes elevating also this one to a higher plane of interest.

A certain taste for bleak, dystopian inspired moods and atmospheres is something of a prerequisite to be able to enjoy Seconds Before Landing's debut album "The Great Deception". A proposed key audience as defined from a musical point of view should probably be those who have a soft spot for the more ambient oriented excursions of Trey Gunn, and especially those among them who also enjoy the accessible side of bands such as Pink Floyd in general and guitar soloing Gilmour style in particular.

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