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E-Dub View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Gift - Awake & Dreaming
    Posted: July 23 2007 at 15:52
Just got this today and have it on right now. Initial thoughts? THIS IS STUNNING AND AM LEFT BREATHLESS.

E

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erik neuteboom View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 19:01
 
            I share your enthousiasm E-Dub, early December 2006 I wrote this review:
 

THE GIFT — Awake and Dreaming

Review by erik neuteboom (erik neuteboom)
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Expert

4%20stars Here is a stunning debut CD by the UK band The Gift, what an incredible level for a new band!

The album Awake & Dreaming has a running time of 70 minutes and contains two epic compositions, separated into 19 songs in total. Despite the long running time and many songs, the music doesn’t fail to generate excitement for one single second. In contrary, it is loaded with strongly build-up songs featuring lots of spectacular breaks (especially the second part of this CD) with sensational keyboardwork and excellent, often powerful guitarplay. The Gift sounds melodic and accessible but the compositions are varied and elaborate, the band changes very flowing from mellow with twanging 12-guitars to harder-edged and bombastic outbursts with propulsive, often fat sounding guitar riffs and lush keyboards. I am delighted about the way The Gift blends ‘classical Seventies symphonic prog’ (obvious Genesis echoes) and some neo-prog (like early Marillion) with fresh ideas and a modern sound. The vocals are strong with a wide range but I want to give special attention to the keyboard player (from spacey and soaring to classical orchestrations and flashy synthesizer flights) and the guitarist (from howling runs to heavy – and even prog metal guitar riffs or fiery wah-wah drenched soli). If you have the idea that the current prog has nothing to offer, I am sure The Gift will change your mind, what an excellent debut CD!

My rating is 3,5 stars but I have to choose between 3 and 4 stars according to the Prog Archives guidelines so eventually it becomes 4 stars. Highly recommended to especially symphonic - and neo-prog aficionados!

 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 19:57
Erik, your review is what intrigued me about this band in the first place. After I read it I went to their MySpace site, sampled some songs and bought it immediately. It could've been my album of the year last year had I known about it.

E
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 20:27
Thanks E-Dub, that's a fine compliment and did you know the band send me an e-mail because they were also pleased with my review Approve ?! Anyway, as a 'progrock missionary' I feel satisfied that my review showed you the way Wink ..!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 20:34
erik, do you know everyone? I know for a fact that Arjen Lucassen thanks you in the liner notes for Electric castle, (Yes, I have a lot of free time), and now this. Why can't I be you?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 20:37
Originally posted by erik neuteboom

Thanks E-Dub, that's a fine compliment and did you know the band send me an e-mail because they were also pleased with my review Approve ?! Anyway, as a 'progrock missionary' I feel satisfied that my review showed you the way Wink ..!


The review definitely did it's job, Erik. I've come across a lot of great new bands through this site, but this one could be at the top (Shadow Circus and The Puppet Show are a close tie for second).

E
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 20:51
Well 1800iareyay , I write reviews and make interviews for progrock magazines and progrock sites since the early Nineties so I have build up many contacts during the years. My most memorable interview was with the late Rick van der Linden (Ekseption, Trace), we talked for more than two hours about Hammond, Moogs and The Mighty Tron, what a nice and enthousiastic person Thumbs%20Up Another great moment was when I had added the legendary USA symphonic prog band Lift to this site two years ago, a few months later I received a parcel from one of the members with a live CD-R and some new work, I felt very honoured because Lift is one of my favorite USA bands and I am still very grateful to the known Greg Walker for his recommendation in his Syn-Phonic catalogue Clap
By the way, if you write so many reviews as I do, you also got many positive reactions because most bands are very glad with our support, for sure they need it!
 
E-Dub: I thought you are very late but you are from the USA, not the UK, here in Holland it's midnight and I am in the nightshift Wink I am very curious to Shadow Circus, how would you describe their music very shortly?


Edited by erik neuteboom - July 23 2007 at 20:53
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 20:53

I'm working on my reviews. I think I've got a decent number under my belt, but I have difficulty ordering out reviews. There's just so much I wanna write about

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 21:36
Erik,

It's exactly 8:33 CST here in America's heartland. Not quite bedtime for me yet.

The best overview I can give you is from my PA review a month or so ago:

SHADOW CIRCUS
Welcome to the Freakroom
2006
Studio Album
Review | Album details | All reviews

Review by E-Dub (Eric)
Posted 4:25:30 PM EST, 5/9/2007

Nice debut by American symph prg rockers, Shadow Circus. It's one thing to discover an up and coming prog band, be a bit fascinated by it, but you know in the back of your mind that you won't venture past a disc or two. It's a completely different thing when you're so taken by a disc by an unknown band and know that you are on to something special. You can't wait for the next album!

The disc launches from the gate with swirling keyboards and a soaring intro with the band's namesake song. Excellent solo by guitarist John Fontana about 5 minutes in that reminds me a lot of Tom Scholz of the band Boston. Nice little blend of quirkiness by vocalist David Lawrence Bobick.

One of my favorite tracks is the second entitled "Storm Rider". Starts off with a Kansas feel with nice piano adding a bit of a Springsteen-ish/Roy Bittan quality to it. Again, a true highlight is John's guitar solo about halfway through that blends into a nice harmonious marriage with the synths.

"Inconvenient Compromise" starts off with a sound like Rush's "Dreamline" from Roll The Bones briefly, but suddenly changes moods with a beautiful piano interlude. Very nice how the songs takes on a schyzophrenic personality that's a bit manic, but then takes off with some very nice melodies. Just amazing arrangement on this particular song with about a minute and a half to go--this band really shows of their chops on this tune.

"Radio People" starts off with an almost 80's hair metal anthem, but don't let that turn you off (if 80's hair metal isn't your thing). At about 5 1/2 minutes long, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted, while at the same being a social commentary. Actually makes for a nice break while venturing through the Freakroom--you can't help but tap your feet to this one.

"In The Wake Of A Dancing Flame" rolls in with a nice drum pattern reminiscent of Cozy Powell, accompanied with a nice Hammond Organ; although, the vocals could be delivered in a different way and doesn't quite hold up to the powerful music. What strikes me on this song and on the others is the beautiful piano underlining the music. I hate to use the same Roy Bittan comparison, but both keyboardists create an almost carnival-like atmosphere with their swirling pianos. It's one reason why I appreciate Springsteen's music, and now Shadow Circus. You put this together with an almost sitar esque solo by Fontana, the song simply takes you to another state. Absolutely sublime!

We start to exit the Freakroom with the mini epic, "Journey Of Everyman" to more exquisite piano rising above beautiful orchestration. Until a Van Halen's 1984-like synth catapults us into the stratosphere with a solo that sounds like something right off of a Boston album circa 1977. Once the storm passes, however, the intro slows down to a calming pace. The song suddenly picks up, slows down, but lurches forward again in a manic pace of flying drumsticks and whirling guitars. This band knows how to tell a story with music in a way that's not unlike Transatlantic. It's defintely one of my favorites from the Freakroom.

Shadow Circus and The Puppet Show have been two very positive discoveries in 2007 so far. If I did have one complaint, I only wished they had longer epics that clocked way past the longest track at 11 minutes, 46 seconds (me being the epic junkie that I am). Still, it doesn't detract from a VERY strong debut by a band for whom will be around for a long time to come. 4 very strong stars!

=============================================

It's a very good disc. They've just been signed to ProgRock records and really hope they go far.

E
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 21:49
I'm going to have to check my copy of Into the Electric Castle now...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 22:26
Thanks for your review E-Dub, very clear story, it's all about dynamics and great work on guitar and keyboards, I am sure this band will appeal to me Approve
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 22:44
Not a problem. John Fontana's a member of PA and a hell of a nice guy. It's always good to support a good group of people who really know how to create great music.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 23:15
Originally posted by Geck0

I'm going to have to check my copy of Into the Electric Castle now...
I'm fairly certain it was Electric Castle, but it could have been final Experiment or one of the universal migrators. I know it's not in THE unles Erik gets repeat nods, which wouldn't surprise me, you lucky pup.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 23:26
Arjen Lucassen was searching for a Minimoog for many years and I gave him the adress of a music store (after an interview on his wonderful farmhouse) where he finally found one, he was so happy with it Approve This is the main reason that he put my name on one or more of his albums, The Electric Castle and/or The Universal Migrator.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 23:27
Can I have his adress so i can mail myself there? WinkLOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2007 at 23:45
He is always willing to react on e-mails and his site is amazing Thumbs%20Up
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