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Lee Abraham - The Seasons Turn CD (album) cover

THE SEASONS TURN

Lee Abraham

 

Crossover Prog

3.93 | 169 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lee Abraham got on my radar as a replacement for the lamented bassist Neil Pepper on Galahad's latest releases, but I did not really get further involved until "The Seasons Turn" was announced, featuring a few musicians that I really love a great deal, such as the fabulous Marc Atkinson, owner of a uniquely expressive voice that is quite rare in Progland. His work with Riversea and Nine Stones Close are imminently fabulous monuments to expressive singing. Drummer Gerald Mulligan from Credo also lends his thumping talents to the mix, as well as lead singer Mark Colton. Add other luminaries such as Martin Orford (IQ), Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf), Dec Burke (Frost* and Darwin's Radio) and Simon Godfrey (Shineback) and you know the quality will be front and center. The Abraham band members are new to me as of today but certainly not tomorrow, as Alistair Begg on bass, Christopher Harrison on lead guitars and Rob Arnold on piano and keys are all first rate musicians.

To kick off an album with a 24 minute marathon tour de force is quite the gamble, but it seems apparent from the very first note that Abraham wanted to stamp this opus with some immediate prog brilliance, and this tremendous title track is an absolute corker! There is little doubt that Marc Atkinson's voice has a more feminine tinge (as opposed to some bluesier growl), not far behind the magnificent Steve Balsamo's wail, he of IO Earth and Kompendium fame. Everything here is sheer magic, as only emotionally charged and progressively structured music can be at times, especially when peppered by Rob Arnold's eloquent piano motifs, as well as the howling mellotron detonations carved by a honed prime electric guitar that slices through the haze. Epic and grandiose, this is a vigorous affair that takes no prisoners, somewhat akin to the very recent and muscular IQ work, in that it offers depth, panorama and altitude. When Marc Atkinson clutches the microphone, the sonic thrill begins in earnest, not just a glorified chops session but a bona fide epic masterpiece! While not complex in structure, the music is not commercial or even accessible to all, as it has an ethereal quality that emotes on a multitude of levels. The chorus seems like one may hear in some vivid dream, exploded onto a canvas of colors with bass blue, dark violet drums and golden guitar twirling the brush. Harrison rages, rants and rampages very correctly, elevating the piece to the most glorious heights with multiple solos throughout, though it must be stated that Atkinson really shines very brightly as a lead vocalist, proving to be among the very very best in Progland. Stick man Mulligan pounds the colossal finale into proper submission. No other word comes to mind than: WOW!

After such a volcanic experience, "Live for Today" serves as a definite refocus, a refreshing insight into the daily routine, a comforting disturbance (or a disturbing comfort, if you prefer) that is perfectly highlighted by Dec Burke's brittle lament, a sizzling guitar barrage that fizzles like hell-bent phosphorous, Alistair Begg foraging the low end with his moody and animated bass guitar, winking at Mulligan and his kit, a 7 minute ditty that is just the perfect segue to the previous megalith.

Marc Atkinson has a few different vocal tones, somewhat growlier (as in tired) on the next piece, the bouncy "Harbour Lights", a somewhat Genesisian tendency pervades the arrangement, with loads of keyboards, an expressive and boisterous guitar presence, while the rhythm section sets a strong foundation. Toss in some fortuitous flute work from Martin Orford and the brilliance illuminates the proceedings in a very demonstrative manner.

The more straight forward power balled "Say Your Name Aloud" features Credo's lead lung Mark Colton and he is no slouch either, a gifted vocalist that exudes charm and passion. This is the only outright 'commercial' moment here, a relatively simple piece with countrified guitar pickings, almost a British styled Eagles like song. It serves nicely as respite but we progheads prefer, as ELP would once put it, 'The Endless Enigma" of unending prog adventure.

The sensation returns with another masterful extravaganza, the 16 minute "The Unknown" which now features Shineback's Simon Godfrey on lead vocals, in what should be best described as a modern neo-prog epic that speaks to the 21st century fan, a longing to be free, to be stimulated and to find some kind of musical release, as our world continues to veer towards insanity. Between idiot politicians, severe weather dislocations, social apathy, terrorism, disappearing airplanes, GMOs, increasing wealth gap and Brussels dysfunctionality, there is really little respite. The snarling guitar barrage underlines the frustrations, the barely expressed rage, the pharma-fueled apathy and the flickering glimmer of some kind of future salvation. Yeah, right! The bullish song slithers along, undeterred by any pretense, content to hurl guitar sparks into the gun powder room, and the rest be damned! The drum beat is tectonic, the keyboard arsenal finds itself unleashing all its weapons of ivory and the finale is pure bombast! The piece ends on a very elongated and spooky cosmic sound that bodes little good fortune for the future. Let us pray?.

Some of the most vivid artwork ever, a sensational package that deserves to be heard, appreciated and adulated. The two epics opening and closing the album are simply fabulous works of genius.

4 veering terms

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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