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Comedy Of Errors - Spirit CD (album) cover

SPIRIT

Comedy Of Errors

 

Neo-Prog

3.90 | 260 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This is how it has to be

Back in the days before mobile phones, the internet and home computers, a band called Comedy of Errors came together in Glasgow, Scotland. Over 20 years later, in 2011, they released of their first official album ("Disobey"). Now, a mere 4 years later, we find them onto album number three, having successfully negotiated the challenge of the difficult second album in 2013 with "Fanfare and Fantasy". As if that was not enough, three of the band members were also a part of the superb Grand Tour album released earlier this year.

It would be something of an understatement to say that Comedy of Error's latest album "Spirit" is ambitious. One glance at the tracklist substantiates this, the title piece running to around 45 minutes. Although nominally broken down into 10 sub-tracks, it is intended to be approached as a complete work. The entire album was composed by Keyboards player Jim Johnston, who declares his influences as ranging from Shakespeare through composers such as Bach, Mahler and Purcell, to other less familiar names such as Dowland, Tallis and Falconieri, plus a few others. Johnston himself states that "this is the most personal of albums and the whole structure musically has been intensely worked out thematically and motivically".

With the previous album "Fanfare and fantasy", the band moved from the fine neo-prog of "Disobey" towards a more symphonic approach, and "Spirit" completes that migration. In terms of structure, this is a classical work demanding so much more than a cursory listen. It is a feature of the best in progressive rock that an album reveals itself only with repeated listens, and that is very much the case here. While the distinct vocals of Joe Cairney are the band's signature, the fine lead guitar contributions of Sam McCulloch and Mark Spalding and the symphonic keyboards swathes of Jim Johnston on which the album is based, only fully reveal themselves after several plays.

Lyrically, there is a fair bit of anger and cynicism bordering at times on despair to begin with at least ("You're God and you let me down, you're supposed to help, what the hell are you thinking"), but this is transformed into optimism and hope as we progress ("Everything makes sense now as the dawn breaks through the night").

The album is completed by a separate Epilogue "This is how it has to be", a delightful instrumental which in reality is coda to the main piece and intended to be heard as such, and a "bonus" track called "Spirit" (marked as "single") which draws in themes from the main track to create a pleasingly melodic conclusion to the album.

In all, "Spirit" is a mighty statement and a true masterpiece of symphonic progressive rock. Influences as diverse as Marillion, Yes, IQ, Genesis, Spock's Beard, and many more could be cited, but there is at the same time a true sense of originality here, of the band recording something they feel they can be proud of without necessarily craving the recognition they truly deserve.

Nice sleeve design too, inspired by the wonderful scenery of the Firth of Clyde.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |

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