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Satellite - Evening Games CD (album) cover





3.86 | 173 ratings

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5 stars It's hard to believe that Satellite could improve upon their debut, but, after a period of uncertainty, I have to say that they have done exactly that with "Evening Games", minus the bonus tracks.

This is an absolutely dense master produced work, dark in many parts, even metallic, yet dreamy too. It's not always clear what is being hinted at thematically from a lyrical perspective, but, in combination with the music, few albums have evoked as many images in my mind's eye. It is unique yet a familiar friend. I do not readily compare it to any other album or band.

The album opens with the absolutely stunning title track, which chugs along brilliantly for 17 minutes, through a variety of tempo and mood changes. Robert Amirian's voice has crept up in rawness and intensity but he also knows how to croon. Satellite doesn't content itself with verse-chorus-verse-chorus format but also understands that a song, however lengthy, is still a song, and it's all about the song. This is a lesson for other bands out there, and we are only on the first module.

"Never Never' is another beauty, about lost childhood and innocence, which seems to be the general gist of the album. The title no doubt derives from Peter Pan, but is a bit more jolting than the description might suggest. "Rush" lives up to its title and concept of moving from one activity to another in life without taking stock or savouring anything. It opens with a monster melody and rhythmic undercurrent which bobs back and forth throughout the piece, even after probably the wildest guitar solo of the whole disk.

Next we take a breather to soak in "Love is Around You", a sweet jazzy ballad that is this album's version of the somewhat lame "I'm Not Afraid" from "Street". Here they get it right, with gentle keys and guitar, and Amirian's best breathy voice. This segues into "Why", in some ways the heaviest piece on the album, but also with a recurring harmonic theme that contrasts with the metallic edges. Particularly effective is the break on acoustic guitar played in a Spanish style.

Now we get to a couple more epics, and this is where the improvement upon Satellite's first album is most apparent. Not because these masterpieces are better than, say "On the Run" or "Street Between..", which they are to some degree, but because of how they allude to previous themes so masterfully both from a lyrical and musical perspective respectively, in a way I have rarely seen before. This is not simply retread to hit you hard and remind you how good the first theme was, but a hearkening back, as if back to childhood, to that first innocent time, and to how one must let go, sometimes violently, sometimes peacefully. "Beautiful World" is the first, referring to a great tragedy in which schoolchildren were killed in Breslan as a case in point. The darkness of the event is depicted in the verses, but the coup de grace is when Amirian pronounces how the children went out to play their evening games and none returned! Then the symphonic passages and finally a majestic jam led by Sarhan. "Evening Overture" more directly channels the opening cut and could be considered Evening Games Part 2, if not quite as strong. Here previous musical themes stand sideways and yet soar.

The album proper concludes with the beautiful raw ballad "Take it as It is". I could take it a lot longer if they had chosen to elongate it. Amirian really hits the mark on this one, especially his line about "longing for winter again", and the goosebumps proliferate.

I have a strange feeling that The Satellite saga might be already over, but in 2 releases they have left us a remarkably rich legacy already. If you like your prog with contrasts but with an unwavering feel for beauty, you can't do much better than to make an evening game out of this album.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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