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Colin Masson - Isle Of Eight CD (album) cover


Colin Masson


Crossover Prog

3.59 | 32 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Riding alone

It is probably impossible to review this first solo album by The Morrigan's Colin Masson without mentioning one Mike Oldfield. Oldfield's influence on both Masson's guitar sound and his style of composition is undeniable. The Oldfield work that comes most to mind is probably Incantations - the 1978 double album consisting of only four long tracks. Isle Of Eight similarly features very long compositions, the merely three tracks are 13, 25 and 27 minutes long respectively! It is equally impossible not to mention The Morrigan, which is the very good Prog Folk band of which Masson and his partner Cathy Alexander have been the leading figures since the mid 80's. Alexander is also present here providing some occasional vocals parts, but this music is, like much of Oldfield's works, almost entirely instrumental.

Isle Of Eight was released in 2001 in between the two Morrigan releases Masque from 1998 and Hidden Agenda from 2002. Some of the folky and Celtic influences from The Morrigan can definitely be detected in Masson's solo music, but overall this is an entirely different beast. It was thus very appropriate to release this under Masson's own name rather than as another Morrigan album. At present The Morrigan sadly seems to be dormant but at least not defunct, and Masson wouldn't release another solo work until 2009's The Mad Monk And The Mountain.

Masson himself here plays not only various electric and acoustic guitars (with great skill!) but also bass, recorders, keyboards, percussions and trombone as well as doing the drum programming. It is fair to say that the guitar is the dominant instrument. If I am correctly informed, the lovely cover artwork is also by Masson himself. We thus have not only a multi-instrumentalist, but a genuine multi-artist on our hands. The only other people involved here at all is the aforementioned Cathy Alexander on occasional vocals and keyboards and Ryan Masson (which I presume is Colin's and Cathy's son?) credited for providing "random noises". If I'm right then, this album is something of a family affair but with a very strong paternal leadership!

The style of composition is, as previously mentioned, similar to that of Mike Oldfield. What I mean by this is that a theme is developed, and then it moves on to another and then to another, etc., without returning again to earlier themes. It is thus a question more of musical journeys than compositions in the traditional sense. But it is nowhere near as chaotic and disjointed as, say, Oldfield's Amarok. You might perhaps say that the music "revolves" rather than evolves? Overall, this music is quite peaceful in nature, but there are also some quite intense and even some quite heavy, rocking passages. Masson sometimes sounds like Brian May of Queen with echoed, bombastic guitar-scapes!

Isle Of Eight is indeed a thoroughly pleasant and enjoyable work, but I cannot really praise it beyond that. It is undeniably a work of a very competent and versatile artist and skilful instrumentalist, but it fails to leave any strong and enduring impressions on me. Even if the comparison is not wholly apt, I must say that I generally prefer the works of The Morrigan.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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