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STEVE COCHRANE

Crossover Prog • Canada


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Steve Cochrane picture
Steve Cochrane biography
Canadian artist who went from New Age to prog over the course of three albums. His latest, a mixture of GENESIS, Mike OLDFIELD, CAMEL, Anthony PHILLIPS and YES, is of particular interest to progsters. During the 80's, COCHRANE spent five years working on an album based on the work of writer Ayn Rand; however, record companies balked at supplying the necessary cash; so he shelved it, chose a cheaper route and began focussing on recording with keyboards.

His first album, "Heroes Awaken", is synth-dominated and very 'new-age' like, as is his second "To See It Made Real"; although some progressive elements are starting to show through on this one. However, his third album "The Purest of Designs" (1998) sees the man in full progressive form. Mostly made up of revamped material from his shelved Ayn Rand project, it features more aggressive passages and lots of Anthony PHILLIPS-like acoustic guitar that gives the album a warm and mellow feel. Throughout, the electric and acoustic guitars run amok in the best prog fashion possible. What will no doubt strike the listener, also, is COCHRANE's incredible virtuosity on guitar. His technical abilities are simply bewildering. As some reviewer once wrote, "we may wrestle with disproving Einstein's theory of relativity, but this artist has no problem defying the speed of light with his fretwork." Nicely said. The album contains both instrumental and vocal tracks.

"The Purest of Designs" is highly recommended for anyone into strong melodies, rich orchestration and nice fingerwork. Fans of Anthony PHILLIPS and Steve HACKETT will feel right at home with it.

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

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STEVE COCHRANE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.49 | 3 ratings
Heroes Awaken
1990
3.87 | 4 ratings
To See It Made Real
1995
3.62 | 8 ratings
The Purest of Designs
1998
3.57 | 7 ratings
With Or Without
2007
4.28 | 21 ratings
La La La: Variations On a Happy Song
2012

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STEVE COCHRANE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heroes Awaken  by COCHRANE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.49 | 3 ratings

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Heroes Awaken
Steve Cochrane Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars STEVE COCHRANE was born in Nova Scotia, Canada but would later relocate to Toronto and had a love of chill easy listening music from his youth at least until he heard Rush which changed the course of his music listening journey. Having emulated his great heroes, his aspirations were to develop the next great Rush influenced band but as time went on he discovered the greater world of 70s prog and took on the influences of some of the symphonic prog greats such as Genesis, Yes, Camel, Mike Oldfield and Renaissance.

After having played in various bands with the most famous all-original band Endpieces finding the most success at least on a local level, COCHRANE became enthralled with Neil Peart's fascination with the philosophies of Ayn Rand and crafted his own prog projects that emulated the side long album pomp of 70s prog at its peak however this stuff was no longer fashionable in a watered down 80s where brevity ruled and nerdy excesses remained deep in the underground. Instead of swimming upstream COCHRANE took the approach of if you can't beat em, join em and instead shifted gears. After having mastered all those wonderful MIDI sounds that made the 80s so, well 80s, COCHRANE set out to craft a new style of music.

Somewhere along the line COCHRANE went into the world of Japanese new age artist Kitaro and adopted his new age approach that mixed classical elements with symphonic rock and then released this debut album HEROES AWAKEN in 1990. This album was completely instrumental and features COCHRANE as a one-man show having written all the composiitons, played all the instruments as well as taking care of all the arrangements, editing and production. Sounding somewhat like a more caffeinated Kitaro, HEROES AWAKEN engages in a bunch of syrupy melodies on cheesy synthesizers with all kinds of over the top dramatic crescendoes with whizzing synth counterpoints, cheesy drum machines and a few guitar solos now and again.

This album is somewhat an anomaly in COCHRANE's canon as he would introduce more guitars and better arrangements on his second album "To See It Made Real." While this album isn't unlistenable it seems it's a bit too dependent on those Kitaro-isms of bending note slides and crazy octave leaps around melodies that are so full of sunshine that they are on the verge of going super nova any moment. This is a long album to endure as it features an intermingling mix of easy listening piano music, tinny syth motifs and atmospheric synth rolls so out of orbit that they sound like helium balloons being inhaled by the flying fish on the album cover as they hum soundtrack tunes of Vangelis.

I'm not against new age in any way as when it's done right it can be a mind altering experience but this debut album by STEVE COCHRANE just sounds way too amateurish for its own good. While the compositions are trying to sound grand, the limitations of the technology make it sound cheap and it doesn't help that the synthesized contrapuntal deliveries just sound out of sync the whole time. While the slight angularities are what add a bit more depth to this experience, in the end this is really forgettable and probably not the place to start if you are interested in either new age or COCHRANE's musical works. This is truly the type of music that if HEROES truly had AWAKEN, then surely they would want to go back to sleep until the next act came along. Not even meh.

 La La La: Variations On a Happy Song by COCHRANE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.28 | 21 ratings

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La La La: Variations On a Happy Song
Steve Cochrane Crossover Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars Steve Cochrane is a Canadian musician that started his career back in the beginning of the 80's but that just started recording under his own name in 1991. La La La: Variations On A Happy Song (2012) is his fifth album and the first of the musician I listened to.

To be honest, Prog albums recorded by solo artists can be very complicated. I will explain. In many cases the musicians record all the instruments by themselves and do all production, mastering etc and the result is amateurish lot of times. Before listening to La La La: Variations On A Happy Song (2012) I had this impression about the album, but I'm glad to say I was wrong!

Steve Cochrane plays all guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion and vocals. But he does all of it very well. Also he had drummers Kevin Richard and Richard Rizzo helping him as well as vocal appearances.

Right at the beginning, in the first track 'Alarm Clock Overture', is where I see that I was wrong about my first impression. The magnificent opening track takes us to a journey full of 'lalalas' right away, the first impression is well completed by the following track 'Makes Me Want To Sing' which is a great tune and full of vocals.

The record goes on with acoustic guitars on 'Red Sky' and the initial shock of 'Towards Ideal' that soon turns out to be a kind of Tears For Fears Prog. The way Steve tells the story in this conceptual record based on acoustic guitars that are interspersed by inteligent electric guitars, seductive bass lines and many vocals is a joy! At 'A Song' I'm basically hooked!

All the tracks in the record are connected so the travelling continues with the trippy 'Just Clouds' that in the middle reminds Pink Floyd's The Wall era, but in fact the eleven minutes of it have pretty much everything. 'Beauty And Defiance' is a pretty acoustic piece, 'Birthright' is an impressive Symphonic piece with beautiful female vocals by Aimee Matuszczak that is very Marillion-like. The final track of the album 'The Day I Found My Wings' brings back the amazing moments of the opening track with plenty of vocals and many acoustic guitars finishing the album on a high note!

La La La: Variations On A Happy Song (2012) is a hell of a discovery. It's so full of life, passion and amazing music. You'll find all kinds of Prog here and it makes me happy because of that. But, if you have a thing for acoustic guitars and Symphonic Prog, this is your album!

I loved it!

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

 The Purest of Designs  by COCHRANE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.62 | 8 ratings

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The Purest of Designs
Steve Cochrane Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars During the second half of the 90's Steve Cochrane decided to take his music to another level.Aiming towards a more Classic Prog sound he recorded his third album with a more balanced instrumentation, including all kind of guitars plus bass, keyboards and drums.For the first time he recruited a few guests in an album, Murray Bosch, Marie Bodine and Mary Dube help out on backing voices, while Kevin Richards and Roland Ivarsson offer some help on drum programming.The new album ''The purest of designs'' was his third consecutive effort on his own Spirit Compass label.

From the opening notes of ''To the glory of man'' the listener can detect Cochrane's new horizons, which focus on a GENESIS/YES-influenced Progressive Rock with beautiful melodies and lush orchestral parts, although the following ''When music speaks'' bring some MIKE OLDFIELD mood with the use of acoustic rhythms and the ethereal female voices.By far the absolute centerpiece of the album is the 27-min. 7-part opus ''Songs for spring''.A majestic track, shifting between long, instrumental variations, delicate melodies, GABRIEL-esque type of vocals and emphatic, symphonic textures.Lots of breaks lead to vintage-styled arrangements with strong GENESIS, YES and CAMEL influences, highlighted by the orchestral keyboards and the moving guitar parts.There is a light MARILLION/CITIZEN CAIN influence in the more synth-drenched parts as well as the intelligent, theatrical vocals.The musicianship is very solid with endless changes and harmonic themes and overall the composition is extremely tight and a nice example of rich Neo/Symphonic Prog.The acoustic and lyrical ''Dreams of reason'' will remind of the folky moments of early GENESIS and the album closes with the 15-min. ''The promise of the music'', an absolute OLDFIELD-ian stunner with classical guitars and atmospheric synthesizers in the forefront, delivering impressive soundscapes, and two grand breaks with grandiose symphonic keyboards and soaring electric guitars added for good measure.

A huge surprise by a really talented man.One of the greatest one-man efforts you can find out there, offering superb and sufficient Neo/Symphonic Prog with nostalgic touches.Absolutely fabulous and highly recommended release.

 The Purest of Designs  by COCHRANE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.62 | 8 ratings

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The Purest of Designs
Steve Cochrane Crossover Prog

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Wonderful symphonic prog with a high degree of energy and positive musical spirituality throughout. Steve COCHRANE is a multi-talented musician/song writer who plays keyboards, bass and guitars with great ease. The centre piece of "The Purest Of Designs" is clearly the 27 min epic track "Songs For Spring" which showcase this musicians talents and musical flexibility. Steve COCHRANE's songs are involved and a contain a nice variety of tempo and mood changes. Without a doubt he is a great guitarist and it is during the instrumental moments when one can really appreciate all of Steve's guitar virtuosity. "The Purest Of Designs" is heavily symphonic in nature and contains some highly memorable melodies and wonderful instrumentation.
 The Purest of Designs  by COCHRANE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.62 | 8 ratings

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The Purest of Designs
Steve Cochrane Crossover Prog

Review by Greger
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Canadian multi-instrumentalist Steve COCHRANE is here with his third release. This is a concept album, and the music is melodic symphonic & progressive rock, with many instrumental passages and catchy melodies. Steve's influences are GENESIS, Mike OLDFIELD and RUSH. Besides his influences there's reminiscences to CAMEL, ELEGANT SIMPLICITY, The FLOWER KINGS, JEREMY, TANGERINE DREAM and YES.

Steve is a good guitar player and his playing is a mix between Steve HACKETT (GENESIS), Steve HOWE (YES), Andy LATIMER (CAMEL), Mike OLDFIELD and Roine STOLT (The FLOWER KINGS). His vocals is sometimes reminiscent to Ian ANDERSON (JETHRO TULL). Steve is an impressive and skilled composer who is putting a lot of work and soul into the lyrics.

One of the tracks, "Songs For Spring" is divided into seven parts, and all in all it's 27 minutes. The highlights are "To The Glory of Man", "The Scent of After Rain" which is one part of "Songs For Spring", the poppy folk inspired "Dreams Of Reason" and the final classical influenced epic instrumental "The Promise Of The Music", that is almost 16 minutes. A masterpiece!

The album has got a good production with a clear sound. It's actually mixed in Sweden! It's an excellent album, and I wish I got the chance to hear more from Steve COCHRANE in the future. Most highly recommended!

 To See It Made Real by COCHRANE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.87 | 4 ratings

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To See It Made Real
Steve Cochrane Crossover Prog

Review by Greger
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Multi-instrumentalist Steve COCHRANE's second album is a step forward compared to his debut album. The reason is that this album contains some non-midi sound sources such as acoustic- and electric guitar, bass guitar and vocals on the epic title track. The music is mostly electronic, but he's such a good guitarist that I can't really understand why he isn't giving his guitar playing a bigger role in it.

Steve's music is a mix between symphonic progressive rock, Celtic, classical music, folk, jazz and New Age with lots of melody. It's rather straightforward but has some intricate moments as well as dreamy, relaxing and romantic ones. If you're imagining a mix between EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, Edgar FROESE, KITARO, MARILLION, Mike OLDFIELD, PINK FLOYD, Klaus SCHULZE and TANGERINE DREAM, you'll get a picture of what it sounds like. The highlights are the opening masterpiece "Reason is the Rising Sun", "Mount Fearless", "Makes Me Want to Sing", the 11+ minute epic title track that is the only track with vocals, "The Enlightened Forest" and the beautiful "String of Emeralds".

Recommended if you're into electronic symphonic progressive rock.

 Heroes Awaken  by COCHRANE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.49 | 3 ratings

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Heroes Awaken
Steve Cochrane Crossover Prog

Review by Greger
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is the debut album by Steve COCHRANE. It's electronic all-instrumental progressive rock played on a various keyboards and MIDI guitar. It's very relaxing and the tight orchestral arrangements are very good. You won't miss the vocals because his music is very "lyrical" in the sense that he's telling the story through the music.

His musical soundscapes is reminiscent to KITARO. My favourite tracks are "Walking In Focus", the happy "Tiddlywink Road" with a great melody, "Live Free Or Die" and the absolute highlight "Worship The Hero Within".

It's almost as good as his most recent album "The Purest Of Designs". Recommended if you're into electronic all-instrumental progressive rock.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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