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Ellesmere - II - From Sea And Beyond CD (album) cover

II - FROM SEA AND BEYOND

Ellesmere

 

Symphonic Prog

3.99 | 84 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars This one came as a real surprise to me as Roberto and Paolo's previous Ellesmere effort--2015's Les Châteaux de la Loire--was so gentle and bucolic; "From the Sea and Beyond" is full out Neo Prog Rock in the GALAHAD or RIVERSEA vein as opposed to the pastoral Anthony Phillips-like acoustic guitar-based fare of the previous. It's very good--with thick, full sound and well-constructed Neo Prog songs.

1. "Tidal Breath" (2:13) a subtle keyboard synth extravaganza over ocean surf sounds. (4.5/5)

2. "Marine Extravaganza" (11:55) nice Neo Prog sound palette but the song never really goes anywhere exciting or unusual (though the walkabout that slurred Rickenbacker bass is on for the first few minutes is very entertaining). It seems a basic structure set up just to allow the individual instruments to each have solo times. The bare bones "strings" and "bass" section in the seventh minute is quite cloying and downright annoying. Luckily the Arp solos take us out of it, and lead us to the best section of the song: the bridge at 7:45. The ensuing drum and Arp lead rhythmic pattern grows very old quite quickly. Even the addition of organ and the return of the slurred Rickenbacker cannot save it (though the awesome 7:45 bridge is repeated twice starting at 9:33). The closing section is just too close to GENESIS Wind and Wuthering. (8/10)

3. "Runaway" (6:01) Vocalist Robert Berry's voice bears a striking resemblance to that of Thomas Thielen. (8.5/10)

4. "Marine Coda" (2:09) a pleasant interlude instrumental whose foundation and David Jackson's song-length saxophone solo are meant, methinks, to conjure up late-night sea journeys on a still, uneventful moonless night. (4.5/5)

5. "The Schooner" (11:02) church organ opens this one before chunky bass, flanged guitars and steady drums enter. When Keith More's lead guitar enters around the one minute mark, everybody pauses as if to give him their full attention. Then the full band rejoins to support and encourage his continued soloing until we break at the 2:30 mark for a solo from the omnipresent church organ. I have to say, the organ-band-and-electric guitar combination in this song really works well--the clean, crystalline organ tone and volume and that of Keith's slightly dirty lead guitar are perfect foils for one another! Even over eleven minutes! The tenth minute gets a little too-IQ-ish but then a return to the church organ as the lead over the final minute restores glory. Well met! (9.5/10)

6. "Ridge Fanfare (3:21) full, deep and thick Neo Prog soundscape opens this one with gradually ascending arpeggiated chords from moog synth leading the way as the rest of the band follows. Davy O'List's MIKE OLDFIELD-like guitar tone takes on the lead as the song moves out of intro/A section phase to the B section (chorus?) Ends rather abruptly. (9/10)

7. "Time, Life Again (8:59) a very nice retro-GENESIS Neo Prog sound and chord palette opens this one before the voice of Robert Berry enters at the 1:40 mark. Lots of Arp-y synth strings and chunky 'underwater' Rickenbacker bass permeate every second of this song--it's a nice sound--well done, sounding rather fresh and original and not over-the-top. A break at 5:35 allows the drums to switch to a kind of "Man on the Corner" tom-tom pattern while Brett Kull takes a turn at the lead guitar, soloing with an distorted and wah-ed style and flair reminiscent of some of the stars of the late 60s and 70s--Eric Clapton, to be specific. Excellent job, Brett! A solo that just keeps getting better as it goes--and definitely the best I've ever heard out of you! I have to admit, this is one of the better Neo Prog songs I've ever heard. (10/10)

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of refreshing Neo Prog. Roberto Vitelli and Paolo Carnelli definitely have something refreshing to offer Prog World--and a gift for coaxing peak performances out of their guests--even as accomplished guests as these!

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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