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Satellite - A Street Between Sunrise And Sunset CD (album) cover





3.89 | 231 ratings

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4 stars The debut album of this revamped and updated version of COLLAGE set the bar very high. Crystalline production, strong vocals, mood shifts, nostalgic melodies, thoughtful lyrics and great playing all combine to make "Street Between.." one of the greatest neo progressive albums of all time. That they could produce such a fresh standard 20 years after Marillion's first effort is testament to the skill of Mr Szadowski and crew. My review is based on a version of the CD that does not contain "Bye Bye Bye" and "One Empty Hand".

The opener, "Evening Wind". is definitely one of the highlights, encapsulating all of the above qualities in nearly 13 glorious minutes. If there is one diversion from the standard neo prog "formula", it is Satellite's ability to shift from "down" to "up" and back again, and to contrast the busy sections with more reflective passages. Here, Satellite virtually avoids any metallic edges - there are enough bands doing that already. They coax all us fans of subtlety and sentimentality out from the shadows. The entire track is stupendous, but the keyboards shine in particular, especially the synth solos that reappear several times and bring the song to its final conclusion.

"On the Run" is another multifaceted song that is more like a suite. Sometimes the parts seem a little bit disjointed but it ultimately works, even if Sarhan first reveals his tendency to excess bravado on the guitar solo, that begins just after the 5 minute mark of this quarter hour monster. It does, however, lead into an excellent vocal section. It is true that sometimes Robert Amirian tends to breathe his words a bit too unctuously, but this is easily forgiven due to his ability to convey so much feeling with so little. The entire ensemble seems to know what it wants to achieve, and, amazingly, hit the mark far more often than not.

After two long tracks, Satellite gears down to deliver several shorter pieces beginning with the lovely ballad "Midnight Snow". The tune seems to be reminiscent of something I have heard before but I cannot remember what. This wistful quality permeates so much of Satellite's work. A sparkling lead guitar solo that unravels at the end of the song leads to the final statement by Mr Amirian, and we are led into the much more up tempo "No Disgrace". While it barely touches the fringes of metal, it manages to be energizing, and, while excellent in its own right, it seems like a mere rehearsal compared to some of the more evolved material presented on the group's follow up "Evening Games". "I'm not afraid" is one of the minor missteps on the album, as it is just a bit to cloying and mellow beyond description, even if its production values and arrangements are through the roof.

The third epic is "Now", and it is up to the challenge. The introduction unfolds craftily with an anticipatory vocal section, ambient part, and buildup before the main melody takes over on synthesizer. It definitely has a 1970s feel to it, with strong echoes of mid period Genesis, but these are woven into the mix in such a natural way that there is really no disgrace. The sinewy structure is punctuated by the insistent chorus. "Fight" is a ballad that recalls "Midnight Snow", down to the intensely beautiful lead guitar solo at its climax.

The title track is the final epic, and carries the brunt of the album's theme with purpose and confidence. It unravels a little as it rolls towards the finish line, so is probably the weakest lengthy piece overall. The album is completed by the simple nondescript ballad "Children" and it's fair to say that this one could have safely been omitted.

A few blips notwithstanding, "A Street Between.." is the logical extension of the road traveled by Collage, and in real estate it's all about location. A visit to the neighbourhood is highly recommended.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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