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Big Big Train - The Difference Machine CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

3.64 | 317 ratings

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3 stars With The Difference Machine, Big Big Train have crafted a strong chunk of symphonic prog, full of great compositions, tasty arrangements and daft musicianship. They're not in the business of landmark innovations but still manage to sound fresh. If only...

There are some issues with the vocals, not Filkins' voice as such, which has a nice Phil Collins timbre, but his vocal lines are generally too mellow and poppy. This might not be an issue for other listeners, but I do miss excitement and dynamics in the vocals. Filkins tends to stress each syllable too long and almost always opts for long-held tones that follow predicable melodic lines, Pick Up If You're There is a good example, it's an interesting epic with excellent musicianship but it becomes a drag because of the tuneless melodies. Give this song to an imaginative singer and I'm sure magic will happen.

The album revolves around three epic songs with a certain Genesis touch. But there are also jazzy sounds and more modern accents as in the guitar playing which sometimes remind me of later era Talk Talk. Especially the drums and bass interplay is brilliant and both instruments get ample room to shine. This band sure knows how to arrange songs; their music is never thick or congested but balances the instruments very well. The production is excellent but a bit too slick maybe. I'd like to hear more passion in the performance.

I'd recommend Saltware Falling or Perfect Cosmic Storm if you want to sample this album. The first one seems to suffer less from the faint vocals and the other one is mainly instrumental and has too much attractive music going on to be lessened too much by the singing. The Difference Machine is a smart and mature Prog album but it really needs a shot of adrenaline. 3.5 stars

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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