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The Emerald Dawn - To Touch the Sky CD (album) cover


The Emerald Dawn



4.00 | 92 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars Cornwall proggers THE EMERALD DAWN returns in 2021 with its fourth album TO TOUCH THE SKY which features an album cover that makes you walk between a pair of green giant chicken legs to get to the promised land! The album continues the band's fascination with symphonic space rock with lengthy compositions. In fact this album only features three tracks in its near 49-minute run. The shortest of which is over 11 minutes and the longest over 22!

This quartet of Tree Stewart (vocals, keyboards, Roli Seaboard, 12-string acoustic guitar, flute), Ally Carter (electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, tenor saxophone, keyboard), David Greenaway (fretless & fretted basses) and Tom Jackson (drums) started out more in the realms of neo-prog but since its inception has incorporated other stylistic approaches that gives the band a fairly unique sound. Graced with folky acoustic guitars, space rock atmospheric backdrops and occasional jazzy interludes with sensual sax squawking, THE EMERALD DAWN definitely stands out amongst the crowded prog universe.

While mostly an instrumental album, the intermittently placed vocals Tree Stewart are dreamy and sensual more in the vein of The Cocteau Twins than classic prog bands although significantly lower on the register. With sprawling epic length tracks, TO TOUCH THE SKY comes across as part symphonic prog in the vein of Genesis and classic Renaissance but also incorporates the psychedelic nonchalance of space rock bands like Pink Floyd especially around the "Wish You Were Here" era. Another prominent feature sort of brings post-rock to mind with lengthy cyclical melodic loops painted with atmospheric pastiches, punctuated by folky flute runs and creme de la creme keyboard contributions.

Overall this could be called dream prog as it evokes the new agier albums of artists like Mike Oldfield without taming down the progressive rock heft. While rarely picking up steam to rock, there are moments when the drifting snail's paced rhythms get a bit excited as in the middle of "And I Stood Transfixed" which finds a feisty drumming performance behind the slow tempos and an energetic squawking of the saxophone. If i had to describe TO TOUCH THE SKY in any way that makes sense i would call this "unbroken stream of consciousness prog" because these tracks despite their length are really just long processions of cyclical rhythms and melodic touches all hazed over by heavy atmospheric cloud covers.

Despite all that's great about TO TOUCH THE SKY, i find that what really bugs me the most about this album is the lo-fi production. While perfect for black metal demos and other music that's designed to be agitating and grating, this album seems designed to be lush and care-free with beautiful churning synth swells that evoke a sense of epic connection to the universe. Another thing i find particularly weak on this one are the vocals which struggle to hit the notes. With music this ethereal and angelic it brings the musical procession down a bit for my ears with the rather amateurish vocal sections. In fact it would have been better for this album to be entirely instrumental or having found some more creative way to incorporate vocals into the mix. In the end this is a pleasant enough album but i much prefer the previous "Nocturne."

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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