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Steve Hughes - Themes - Volume 1 CD (album) cover

THEMES - VOLUME 1

Steve Hughes

 

Neo-Prog

2.09 | 3 ratings

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TCat
2 stars Steve Hughes is a multi-instrumentalist and a Neo-Prog artist from the UK, who has played for a few well-known progressive bands like "Big Big Train" for 12 years, and "The Enid" for a few years. He is now concentrating on solo work and has released 5 full length albums since 2015. In April of 2019, he released his 5th solo album digitally called "Themes - Volume 1" which is comprised of 13 tracks with a total run time of almost 49 minutes.

Starting with "SHOW", we hear a slow piano intro which soon develops with electronic percussion and other instruments. It turns into a faster track, mostly led by piano and with a mostly standard meter which suddenly shifts to and from more non- standard meters without blinking an eye. "Static Motion" is even more electronic sounding with an almost rave-sound, but with a strong melody, not unlike the more popular sounds of Vangelis or Tangerine Dream. There is a field vocal recording introduced in the second half which is manipulated to flow with the music. Some guitar comes in later providing short melodic phrases enhanced by synth riffs between those phrases. The same simplicity continues with "The Phone Call", but with a more moderate rhythm and commercial sound. Remaining mostly accessible, "One Sentence" is a bit heavier and faster, continuing to be driven by synths and electronic percussion with some guitar passages thrown in occasionally.

After this, the tracks stay under the 5 minute mark. The next several tracks are in an easy listening style and quite mellow. "Outside the Frame is a beautiful piano solo with a few flourishes added from the synths. "Life Passes You By" keeps things simple with a mellow and simple theme from the keyboards with clock sound effects. "Don't Fade Away" is another track led by a simple piano riff and theme enhanced with bass and more synth embellishments. "Sky" is an easy listening style track reminiscent of Alan Parsons instrumentals, but less involved. It is also missing any memorable theme. "I Want to Believe" begins with a piano led theme that later finally throws in some rhythm and percussion, but it is cut short as the track turns atmospheric before the theme comes back and the pattern repeats itself.

"Can't Move On" is a bit more dynamic, but still quite accessible. At least we get more liveliness here as the rhythms changes up a few times, but nothing notable really happens. "You've Changed" has a music box style theme, but done with synths and an annoying electronic beat thumping along. Some electronic effects sound out of place at the end. "Kashin" features chirping bird sounds and a bright synth theme and minimal percussion. There is a nice string bass flourish added later, but nothing develops from it as it remains repetitive and simple. "Let Me Go" is the last track and by now we are happy to do so.

The music in this album is simply too simple to be considered progressive, but Hughes has ventured away from progressive music from time to time. With only one progressive track on this album (and that was really light progressive) there isn't anything much here that will interest the prog fan. However, if you like your instrumental simple and more in the vein of new age, then you will love this. But be warned, it is very simple, and even new age lovers might find it a bit boring. The production is great, but it really doesn't have anything that stands out, and if you are thinking it might be similar to Vangelis' "Themes" album, think again. At least Vangelis has a lot of memorable themes that he can put out a decent album with that title. Anyway, this album is not Neo-Prog in any sense of the word, and even though it is more electronic, it has very little prog in it. If you are like me, you will be bored with it rather quickly.

TCat | 2/5 |

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