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Fish - Sunsets On Empire CD (album) cover





3.80 | 233 ratings

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The Prognaut
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Audacious, relentless and provocative, "Sunsets on Empire" displays that powerful yet enigmatic musical side of FISH we've never seen or listened to before in previous releases. I determined myself to get this excellent album after watching from beginning to end the "Sunsets on Empire, Live in Poland 1997" DVD, which is a true jewel. The DVD contains five tracks out of the ten contained in here, plus some of his previous solo recordings and a masterful MARILLION songs medley. Over the interview FISH conceded to the German television, also included on the DVD, he describes meticulously the making of "Sunsets on Empire" album, he talks about some of the inconveniences and the changes made during the realization, also he details the relationship he keeps with his fellow guest musicians and the ones that helped in the production of the CD. The opening track, "The Perception of Johnny Punter", had to be lyrically overwritten due the difficulties spotted out by the record company, claiming there could exist some kind of misinterpretation where specific terms may be "offensive and with racist inclinations". FISH, with the equanimity that has always described his personality, took the whole matter as a joke, and playfully referred to situation as "ridiculous", since the label allowed him to keep the swear words to the lyric of the song and for a couple more. Ironic.

Remarkably, and far from sounding pretentious, FISH explores the depths of politics, religion and humankind in a very peculiar way. But amazingly, he manages to keep the romancing, the heartbreaking, the soulful essence and the imperative trademark of his unmistakable songwriting. Proof of that, is represented throughout the lyric and musicianship condensed on "What Colour is God?", which he co-wrote with multi-instrumentalist and anchorman of PORCUPINE TREE, Steve WILSON. The understanding on the creation of this song between such monsters of progressive rock, was outstanding. The song kicks off calmly, where peaceful mystic rhythms flow in between the energetic voice of FISH and the opening chords of what seems to be the thundering rhythm guitar wailed away by Robin BOULT. Eventually, the song blasts off superbly, almost hypnotic, where Steve reveals what he's made of on keyboards, as Dave "Squeeky" STEWART, who two years later would record "An Outcast of the Islands" with Colin BASS; keeps the beat marvelously behind his drum kit. (I know it is not the proper spelling of "squeaky" but this is the way that YATTA and FISH spell it when referring to him).

"Goldfish and Clowns" along "Jungle Ride", are under my perception, the two tracks out of the entire album that set off evidentially because they happen to be very condensed and quickly digested at the time you are listening to them. Not that they lack of direction and purpose, I just pointed out that they don't splatter providentially, convincing your ears at first listen. On the other hand, tracks like "Tara" (dedicated to his now thirteen year-old daughter Tara Rowena) and "Say it with Flowers" (so filled with the essential pointers for successful romancing), reveal a more sensitive touch, where emotions and incarnated feelings distill the scene meaningfully, and FISH certainly knows his way through putting together words, that in the end, would display a poetic view.

All songs in here have a particular point of view, and a characteristic individuality of course, but I surrendered immediately to "Brother 52" (featuring Doc's story), a song that talks about true indelible marks friendship leaves upon yourself and the diamond clear perception of life. The song flows soulfully through a vivid experience, tattooing particular memories inside your head, carving words with repercussive meaning, "we are lover, warrior, magician kings". The musical passage described spectacularly by Martyn BENNETT and Foss PATTERSON, on violin and Hammond organ respectively, leads the song all the way to full enjoyment and appreciation. Irreparably, great stuff.

The self-titled song, carries away the full meaning of the album, it is determined to give away understanding, embracement and cohesion. Presumably, the album is not completely progressive or challenging nouveau, but from upon the hill FISH looked at it, it's only human, particularly really fundamental and extremely disturbing to the simplicities of the common mind. Deservedly, this proposing album stands out as excellent and intrepid. This is the perception of one man through the eyes of the world out there. This is the perception of FISH.

The Prognaut | 4/5 |


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