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Marc Carlton - Degrees Of Freedom CD (album) cover


Marc Carlton


Crossover Prog

5.00 | 1 ratings

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The Rain Man
Prog Reviewer
5 stars "Degrees of Freedom" is the ninth studio album by Scottish based artist Marc Carlton. Released in 2015, "Degrees of Freedom" is the follow up to 2012s "For Imagination". That album I felt Marc was really pushing his own boundaries both in terms of length and complexity of the songs. While it is purely instrumental music Marc produces, it is difficult to pigeon whole Marc in a category or genre due to the range of instruments he uses on albums and the clear range of influences which can be found throughout his music.

I think "Degrees of Freedom" is a great name for this album and I love what Marc said on his website when describing the album - "this album is my attempt to have the best musical adventure possible on rails. Free to explore rhythm, melody and instrumentation, part of the approach was to break rules - particularly my own - and resist simplification." For me, this really sums up the album so well. For someone who had 8 albums out up to this point; many artists often go down the route of replicating formulas which have worked for them and proved successful. But Marc is not like that. He keeps pushing his own boundaries.

What I notice about this album compared to some of his previous works is that to me the tracks on the album feel more self-contained, rather than one longer piece broken into sections. There are still longer tracks on here with a couple sitting at around 11 minutes and one 10 minutes, but this is mixed in with shorter tracks too. Carlton continues to bounce between guitars and synths and often the tracks are multi-layered while others one instrument is more prominent. I think this where solo artists and particularly Marc has an advantage in terms of creativity over bands. In bands everyone wants a role in each song which I think can often limit creative output. I am not saying this is the case for all bands but for a lot. Whereas having a multi- instrumentalist like Marc there can be different focuses from different instruments on different tracks and there are no arguments with someone saying "I don't appear on half the album because my instrument is not involved"

I do like this album a lot. The journeys Marc takes you on, on each of his albums, is not only different each time but it is different to really what is out there now. When you think of bands doing instrumental albums out there now, there is the likes of Mogwai and Explosions in the sky. These bands, while great bands, they always seem to go for the quite/loud approach and try to create that wall of noise as I like to call it each time. It is like hikers wanting to climb the highest peak in their country each time. But the thing is you do not always need to climb that hill to find adventure and beauty. It can be a walk round a lake or through a forest. And for me that analogy reflects Marc's music the best, especially with this album. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way. In fact, when I listen to this, I often turn to my CD player and think to myself - this is amazing. Then I would listen further, and it would happen again. For example, the fantastic piano playing during track 6 "Neutral karma due to admin error" or the electric guitar parts in track 3 "Degrees of freedom". The album is littered with magical moments.

But there is one track on this album where I think Marc really has excelled himself and that really is saying a lot as I rate his music extremely highly and that is track 10 "Persmerga Finds Yurba". The rhythmic drumming combined with the electric guitar to start off with is bliss. The type of drumming Carlton is doing here is like nothing I have ever heard on an album by him before, I'm not sure exactly what type of drum it is, maybe bongos of some form. But you can see this is what he is talking about when he is giving himself that freedom to experiment and this is an explementary example of this. One in which he has pulled off with effortless ease. And that is just the start of the track. This is a 11-minute rollercoaster which after 5 minutes breakdown into a more electronic synth-based vibe, which then moves on to a section which has a dramatic organ like effect before returning to the milder synths to finish.

Overall, this really is an excellent album. In so many ways Marc has pushed himself and the results are there for your ears to hear. This is one of my favourites by him because I think there is just so much to it, it is always off going in different directions which keeps it interesting. He is continually experimenting with new sounds and instruments while his talent for using the instruments he has used previously still shines through.

The Rain Man | 5/5 |


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