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Rush - Signals CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.95 | 1511 ratings

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Mr. Gone
4 stars Maybe this shouldn't be my first Rush review. But I know this album quite well and enough of the history of the band to understand its somewhat divisive position. So here goes...

I like synthesizers. A lot. Polyphonic synths are a very important part of progressive rock for me. Not everything I own has them, but a lot does. And I came into the "Rush" game late (the live version of "Marathon" from A Show of Hands was the first exposure I had to them), so I had fewer preconceptions coming in than someone would have who cut their teeth on Hemispheres. So, for me, the synths themselves are not a problem. And I find that most of the material here ranges from "very good" to "excellent" from a songwriting standpoint.

All that having been said - the sound of this album is "off" for me. It's murky, muddy, fuzzy...something like that (one description I read said it sounded like you were listening to it underwater). One observation I've heard which makes sense is that they hadn't yet learned to play the synths and guitars in separate octaves, resulting in sounds on here that were "wallish" (is that a word?) but in a gloopy, sludgy morass. In smaller doses it wouldn't have done quite so much to affect my opinion - but the synths are all over the place and the amorphous battle between them and the guitars can get a bit overwhelming sometimes (contrast Grace Under Pressure, which arguably has more and busier synths, but sounds a lot cleaner to my ears).

However, the material here (with the exception of "The Weapon", a song I simply can't get into) is strong enough to overcome that by-in-large. I particularly love the reggae section of "Digital Man", where Neil Peart's drumming really shines (love the off-transition cymbal hits especially). "Analog Kid" features some of Alex Lifeson's best shredding on the solo. "Losing It' features a great violin solo from Ben Mink. And I may be the exception here, but I love "Countdown". It feels like a sunny spring morning watching the apex of technology at work in front of you - before I grew up and life lost its optimism as loss and hard experiences ravaged my idyllic existence.

So, I have to give this four stars (3.75, really). It would be a more solid four if it sounded better. Not sure what could be done to change that now, but it's still a totally worthwhile way to spend three quarters of an hour.

Mr. Gone | 4/5 |


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