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The Emerald Dawn - Nocturne CD (album) cover

NOCTURNE

The Emerald Dawn

 

Neo-Prog

3.60 | 31 ratings

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TCat
3 stars Nocturne, released in February of 2019, is the 3rd album released by UK Neo-Prog band 'The Emerald Dawn'. The band consists of Tree Stewart, the founder of the band, on keyboards, flute, acoustic guitar and vocals, Ally Carter on electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, tenor saxophone, keyboards and vocals, David Greenaway on fretless and regular bass, and Tom Jackson on drums. The album runs about 51 minutes and features 5 tracks, one that only lasts 30 seconds and another that lasts over 20 minutes, so 4 of the tracks are quite long.

The 'Prologue' starts with a spoken vocal against a deep drone. This is followed by the 10+ minute instrumental 'As Darkness Falls' starting with the guitar announcing the beginning of the track. This is quickly joined by the band playing a dark and mysterious repetitive melody and making variations around it. After a few minutes of this, synths play alone giving an orchestral effect, staying dark. Eventually, a guitar and a synth trade off the spotlight against a moderate tempo, but still with the dark atmosphere. The guitar seems to be mixed low in the mix, even though it is one of the main instruments, but the synths are mixed to the front when they take their turns, and this makes the entire production seem very uneven. As it continues, this seems even more apparent. At 8 minutes, we get a nice guitar solo to a rhythm that finally settles in. But it is still mixed way too low. Later, this is changed to a more fuzzy guitar that isn't mixed low. All of this uneven production is very distracting.

'Moonlight' starts with a solo piano playing a nice melody. After about 2 minutes, the rest of the band joins. This seems like it could be a decent track with a rousing guitar solo, but the production seems quite stifled. The song goes into a repetitive foundation and the guitars get the most time on this 8 minute instrumental. The solo piano comes back in before the 6 minute mark and before long, the guitar accompanies. The tempo speeds up during the last minute as the music crescendos, but it finally ends sofly with a predictable ending.

'In the Dead of Night' starts of dreamily with vibes and synth orchestration. The band comes in with a heavy bass line and the first vocals. The vocals have an echo effect to give it all a psychedelic feeling and a sax improvises around it all making for a somewhat jazzy effect. The vocals are not very lyrical as they just repeat the title. When the vocals end, there is a sudden burst of orchestral synths and then guitars come in shadowing the synths at first and then improvising off of their melody. Halfway through, we get a heavy organ (synths) that sound like a haunted house theme, then the jazzy bass starts up again with deeper vocals this time repeating the title while female vocals try to make the song turn to a bad gothic imitation. Of course, you still get the stifled production sound. After this section, as things intensify, it actually starts to get interesting, but it's too little, too late.

'The Child Within' is the last track and also the track over 20 minutes. It starts with the dark synths like most of the rest of the album and Ally does the lead vocals this time. The lyrics are a bit corny about a child lost in the darkness with no one to sing her a lullaby. At the 3 minute mark, it is time to cue the guitar for its sad solo. Drums finally come in at 4 minutes, but everything else continues as before. The guitar stays in the spotlight for quite a while, even past the 7 minute mark before synths interrupt and the song pauses while we get thunder and bell effects. Next the track finally speeds up a bit with a churning organ and the vocals start with that gothic feel again. At 11 minutes, the tempo changes again with swirling synths, and then more vocals after which there is a fast synth solo building intensity. Another change around 14 minutes with more spooky sound effects and a new foundation against which there is a nice guitar/keyboard exchange. The last several minutes are devoted to synth and guitars improvising over a basic foundation.

The biggest complaint I have is in the production, which unfortunately makes every thing else sound dated and stilted. The mix is not good on this one. I also find the music good, but too simple in that all of the solos are done against a basic background, thus making the music less than challenging. There are times when the music seems to want to go in a gothic direction, which doesn't work very well in this instance and instead it comes across as a bit tacky. I have a hard time giving this any more than 3 stars, and even then I am rounding it up because some of the musicianship is good, but the production is very uneven and just ruins the overall sound.

TCat | 3/5 |

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