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Fish - 13th Star CD (album) cover





3.79 | 276 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's about time Marillion to invite Fish back!

Yeaaaahhh!!! This is it man! Finally, Fish has made another excellent album, better than "Sunsets on Empire". My apology for Marillion die hard fans who love Hogarth in the band, as I do. But, look, I don't think "Somewhere Else" is something that you can compare with this "13th Star", honestly. I am not trying to demean Marillion's "Somewhere Else" which to me sounds like going nowhere. But, the reality is that the latest album by Marillion is quite weak in soul as well as energy. And now, Fish is rising with his solo album. It seems awkward to say that Marillion (the four members) will invite Fish back to the band, but what I mean to say is that Marillion has to learn a lot from Fish solo albums (despite his ups and downs). I know that Marillion tried to go away from neo prog band wagon but they moved into the direction of Radiohead and the like. Nothing wrong, but they did not invent something new by doing so. It's better they stay in neo prog like IQ, Pallas, etc. In fact, Marillion was the inventor of neo progressive music - so why not staying still with neo progressive? Well, actually the style of music between Marillion Hogarth and Fish solo are different and can not be compared. But you can see from the ratings I have given to these two albums.

Fish with his troubled life has produced something really excellent, musically. It also the case with "Misplaced Childhood" which I think represented the peak of Marillion work under Fish era. This time Fish tried his first collaboration between himself and his 10-year long bass player Steve Vantsis. Unlike Mickey Simmonds and Steve Wilson who had been well known when the collaboration were made, Vantsis I can consider as new comer in composing a music. But through this album I can see his excellent skills in songwriting - of course with Fish as well. Also in this album I can see the return of veterans Frank Usher on guitar and Foss Patterson on keyboards.

The first time I spun this album I did not have any high expectation as I had not followed up with latest developments of Fish musical journey because "Fellini Days" was a great failure, I think. But when I heard the opening track "Circle Line" (6:04) for the first time, I was really surprised with the way Fish created the first impression of combining keyboard solo, loop sampling with great ambient that create great grooves. The groove reminds me to local music popular in my country called "dangdut". Because the ambient is so cool, it creates an excellent listening experience, especially when Fish starts to sing. His voice is quite heavy and powerful it blends beautifully with the music. I think the music flow is easy to digest for many ears with different background and music tastes. It's truly a cool opening. The guitar work in rhythm as well as solo is great, especially when it's combined with keyboard solo. The guitar solo at the end of the track with howling sound is really great.

"Square Go" (5:31) is an energetic song with emotional singing style by Fish, continued seamlessly from previous opening track in tight basslines with another great grooves. The guitar rhythm section is great. Fish enters his powerful low register notes voice followed by wonderful guitar work. Wow man! This is really catchy and great. When he yells "Square Go" he uses high register notes backed with symphonic keyboard work at background. I bet you would love this track because the groove is so wonderful. The guitar solo that follows in the middle of the track while Fish is still singing "Square Go" is really killing! Yes, the beat is disco, but the guitar solo is rockin' and the keyboard work is symphonic. So you can imagine how divers in term of styles this track offers!

"Milos De Besos" (4:22) offers a mellow style music with beautiful piano work that accompanies Fish low register notes voice line in his great accentuated singing style. The music flows naturally with piano as main instruments backed beautifully with guitar fills. The acoustic guitar provides a very nice play right after the first verse. For some reason, I remember the story of "Santiago" in "The Alchemist" book by Paulo Coelho. This is a very nice mellow track that is very easy to digest.

"Zoe 25" (5:19) starts mellow with energetic singing style. It's a ballad track that reminds me to "Tara" of "Sunsets on Empire" album - at least the two has similarities in style. "Arc Of The Curve" (4:29) starts beautifully with a combined work of piano and guitar to accompany another heavy and powerful low register notes voice line sung by Fish. The key attraction of this track is the music that flows naturally in ballad style and its piano and guitar solo. "Manchmal" (5:42) successfully combines music loops, great vocal line, dynamic drumming and stunning guitar solo. The song moves naturally in upbeat style augmented by guitar riffs. The guitar solo is really stunning especially combined with drumming in unique tom sounds. The music turns nicely in loop sampling mood in the middle of the track. Having heard this I thought that this must be an intervention by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. It's really nice music loops.

"Openwater" (5:07) starts with guitar work followed by unique low register voices by Fish followed with drumming loops and tight bass lines which remind me to the music of Peter Gabriel solo albums. "Dark Star" (6:48) starts nicely with mellow style at the intro with tight bass lines and long sustain keyboard sounds accompanying accentuated singing line. At approx minute 2:00 the music moves in high tone with Fish high notes. It's cool during this segment. "Where In The World?" (6:05) is another wonderful nice song in mellow style and it sounds like a requiem. It's so nice. The background with drum loops sequencer reminds me to the music of Peter Gabriel. The album title track "13th Star" (5:41) is another stream of music starts mellow to medium tempo in the middle of the track. The melody is nice as previous tracks. The nuance is suitable as a closing track.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Having listened to this album in its entirety, I have a tendency to respin this album over and over because this album has a strong point to be enjoyed in its entirety. Although this seems like not a concept album, enjoying this album from first track to the end is like experiencing a life journey even though there are no such steep ups or downs. I admire Fish songwriting skills in which he has been quite successful in creating compositions which do not fit only to prog fans but I believe this album suits those who love music in generic terms. Highly recommended and it's 4.5 stars! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |


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