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Cirrus Bay - A Step Into Elsewhere CD (album) cover


Cirrus Bay



3.75 | 64 ratings

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4 stars I've just come into full awareness of this wonderful album of beautiful, uplifing music. As a real lover of female vocalists--and RENAISSANCE/ANNIE HASLAM in particular--this group comes as quite a refreshing reward. IONA, MOSTLY AUTUMN, THE GATHERING, PURE REASON REVOLUTION, and THE REASONING have all been teases. Hello world! This is CIRRUS BAY! Like previous reviewers, this group's excellent song structures and instrumentation choices remind me of a GENESIS-RENAISSANCE mix--or, rather, what might have been if Annie had been invited to step in once Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett had left Genesis. The song structures are very similar to the Wind and Wuthering and And Then There Were Three era--which produced beautiful music that was then diminished (IMO) by weak-to-weird-to-downright-awful lyrics. The songs (aside from the AYREON-sounding "Walking in Shadows") sound like collaborations and performances from TONY BANKS and MIKE RUTHERFORD.

1. "Serenity in a Nutshell." The album begins with its best song, a near flawless epic. Crashing in with thick waves of heavy mellotron and bass pedals, the song suddenly transitions into a much more pastoral piece with acoustic guitar arppegios and recorder, before our stellar vocalist enters. And surprise: There are two lovely voices harmonizing with each other (I wish they'd do more of this on the rest of the album for this is in fact one of the elements that makes this song stand so much higher above the others?as great as they are!) so many key and chord and tempo changes that all work--they all serve to suck the listener into prog bliss--like Ulysses strapped to the mast listening to the song of the Sirens. This may be the song they were singing/playing!!! I love the multiple guitar strumming and alternating acoustic and electric leads combining RENAISSANCE's "Can You Hear Me?" and end of "Cinema Show" between the 5:28 and 7:25 marks. Amazing! Then those amazing vocal harmonies! A masterpiece of progressive rock music for all times! 10/10

2. "Out of the Cold" begins with a definite Mike Rutherford electric guitar solo over some of Tony's finest chord progressions and organ playing. The vocals enter during a particularly straightforward "poppy" section before a Lamb Lies Down on Broadway organ bridge at the 2:15 mark brings me back to prog heaven. Love this organ sound! The Lamb similarities continue with the song's progression into a 30-second instrumental section beginning at the 3:10 mark. (Too bad it's not Phil's drumming! He was amazing!) Love the slide guitar and 12-string work--and mandolin strumming--just before the slowed-down outro. 8/10

3. "The Exposure of Truth" took the longest for me to like because of the many chord, key and tempo changes. Also, the vocals on this one felt a little less "stable"--i.e. because they are so isolated above the music there are times when my ear can't help but question her pitch accuracy. But then, I remember sometimes wondering the same thing about Annie H. in the earlier (less treated/filtered) Renaissance days. A great song of which Tony Banks should be quite proud! I love the (oh-so-rare) upbeat, "happy" feel of this (and many of this album's) song(s). 8/10

4. "Walking in Shadows" sounds so ARJEN LUCASSEN! Maybe the 'best song he never wrote'! An awesome song whose heaviness gives the album a little bit better 'fullness' or 'balance.' 8/10

5. "The Secret Country" sounds to me more like a 1970's collaboration between ANTHONY PHILLIPS (Private Parts and Pieces "Tibetan Yak Music") and RICK WAKEMAN (Six Wives of Henry VIII). Great song except for the odd sounding 'lonely' electric guitar solo near the 2:45 mark. 8/10

6. "Zenobia" is definitely "One for the Vine, Part Two." And what a beautiful song was the first! This one does not shame or disparage the first. Some actual heart-wrenching chord changes--so beautiful! Love the single strums of the flanged acoustic guitar at the 4:40 mark, followed by the nylon string solo over marching piano and snare 5:35 to 6:20. Then: Woah! Steve Hackett tries to make an appearance, only to find himself confronted by a brief duel with Tony at the 7:20 mark--which is then interrupted by a brief vocal before everyone backs into true GENESIS support of a classic HACKETT solo at the from the 8:10 to 9:12 marks. 9:42 sees Tony's turn--AAAHHHH! I'm in GENESIS heaven! And with that angelic yet-sultry voice in the mix as well! I've died and gone to heaven! And the finale escalates into a truly Genesis-like melodramatic ending. 8/10

I'm going to give this album five stars for its consistent level of beauty and for the gift of finally merging the sounds and styles of my two favorite 70s bands. "Step into Elsewhere" is so right! I will not hesitate to say that this is truly a masterpiece of Neo-Prog. (I apologize to Bill, Anisha, Sharra, Mark and Alex for all of the GENESIS and RENAISSANCE eferences/credits. Marvelous work you guys! More, please. LOTS more!)


Re-evaluation October, 2010.

Upon repeated listenings over the last few months, I have decided that my initial exuberance was a little over blown. The album lacks musically--in depth, variety, and complexity. As Tarcisio says, the band will be interesting to follow to see how they 'mature.' Great sound, great instrumental choices, great music, great vocalist; their compositional skill needs more development--more risk-taking (better drumming and more sophisticated rhythmic choices). Adjusted down to four stars.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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