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Chroma Key - You Go Now CD (album) cover


Chroma Key


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.49 | 92 ratings

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Una Laguna
4 stars This album is very similar to its predecessor. Dead Air for Radios and You Go Now both feature laid-back piano/synth-led tracks with Moore's trademark vocals and lyrics. The similarities mostly end there. That makes it sound like they must be very different albums, but they're not. There's a couple of very big similarities and many smaller differences. The differences do add up, though: without knowing the individual tracks, you could probably tell the difference between a DAFR track and a YGN track.

Comparing two albums ignores the objective of a review: you read an album review to find out about the album you've clicked on. But to compare this album with Moore's previous Chroma Key album is perhaps the easiest way to review You Go Now (that, plus it's getting late and I'm lazy). So, if you've not heard Dead Air for Radios, here's the potted summary: straightforward, atmospheric, keyboard-driven songs similar in structure to Peter Gabriel's work, with Kevin Moore's plain and soothing voice singing down-to-earth lyrics. That's a long sentence, but if you can stomach it, it gives you the gist. Or, you could read the reviews on the DAFR page. Your choice.

Comparing YGN and DAFR is sensible because YGN is a progression from DAFR: it takes what DAFR started and brings it on to the next level. DAFR was Kevin Moore with some session musicians (who happened to be from Fates Warning as I recall). In contrast, YGN is a collaborative effort between Kevin Moore and guitarist David Iscove. Iscove's guitarwork adds a lot to the album in terms of the atmospherics, and Moore's synth and keyboardwork has developed further from the first album (many tracks use the crackling of old vinyls to add to the atmosphere). Lyrically, the album feels more concentrated than DAFR: most of the tracks use some sort of metaphor or audio sample related to astronauts (Moore said in an interview that astronauts were used a lot as metaphors for loneliness). This means that as an album, YGN holds together much stronger than DAFR, and feels more cohesive.

In terms of the actual songs, the two albums feel very similar in terms of quality. I would say YGN has the edge over DAFR. DAFR was more variable in terms of quality, but YGN is more consistent and generally has the bar raised a bit higher (likely due to Moore's maturing as a songwriter).

Both albums have mellow tracks with distorted vocals (Colorblind and Mouse on DAFR and Get Back in the Car and Subway on YGN). Both albums have one energetic track (On the Page from DAFR and Astronaut Down from YGN). However, when you compare the number of "normal" tracks (that is, standard song structure with no bonuses like distorted vocals) and ambient tracks, you notice a shift. DAFR has four "normal" songs (Even the Waves, Undertow, American the Video, S.O.S.) whereas YGN has just two (Another Permanent Address, Nice to Know). And this is where you really notice the shift: DAFR has two ambient tracks (Camera 4, Hell Mary), and YGN has four (Lunar, When You Drive, Please Hang Up, You Go Now).

That was an incredibly long-winded way of saying there's a greater shift towards instrumental ambient tracks on this album. There's a much greater Brian Eno influence evident on this album, the spacey tracks with their guitars and synth sounds greatly reminiscent of Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks. If you listen to the third Chroma Key album, Graveyard Mountain Home, you can see a trend in the albums towards more ambient, instrumental pieces and fewer straightfoward songs.

There are some wonderful songs on this album. Get Back in the Car is a dreamy, atmospheric piece. Another Permanent Address is a mellow, emotionally-charged song which rivals Space-Dye Vest in its beauty (note that Another Permanent Address doesn't have arrangements by a progressive metal band, though). You Go Now is one of my favourite ambient tracks of all time, simple yet haunting in its atmosphere.

Unlike DAFR, there are no tracks which I feel an urge to skip. It's a question of "Which tracks are less good?" rather than "Which tracks aren't very good?" The weakest track is probably When You Drive, a mellow, almost minimalistic track where the audio samples take centre stage (I prefer it when the music takes centre stage, myself). Lunar is also in the same category, but not so guilty: there's more music and the audio samples contribute to the atmosphere better.

The single biggest criticism I have is in the order tracks appear on the album. Like many prog fans, I'm a stickler for the album format: I don't say "which track shall I listen to now?" I say "Which album shall I listen to now?" As Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree fame) said, albums are supposed to take you on a musical journey. The trouble with You Go Now is that the first three tracks are all very samey. Get Back in the Car, Another Permanent Address and Nice to Know are three tracks which have a similar mellow feel, have the standard song structure and are about the same length. Individually, they are good songs, but stacked next to each other they feel monotonous and get boring. With the exception of Astronaut Down, the rest of the tracks on the album are much more ambient, much spacier. There IS variety on this album, but it hasn't been exploited. It doesn't do much to give you a good first impression. This is one of the few albums I know that would benefit from use of the shuffle button.

Moore's voice is for many a bone of contention. If you didn't like his voice on DAFR, you almost certainly won't enjoy it here. The only real difference is that he uses a smaller vocal range (he went quite high on On the Page as I recall). But his plain vocals DO fit the sound of the album and do complement it.

If you enjoyed Dead Air For Radios you will almost certainly enjoy You Go Now. If you enjoyed Graveyard Mountain Home... well, that's largely irrelvant as GMH is so much more different from the first two. This album is the transition from the first to the third Chroma Key album, which makes it a good starting point for Moore's post-Dream Theater career. If you had a choice between Dead Air For Radios and You Go Now, I would recommend You Go Now. A deep, atmospheric, emotional album. Highly recommended for anyone who values substance over style.

Una Laguna | 4/5 |


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