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Big Big Train - Far Skies Deep Time CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.11 | 229 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars *This is a review of the 2011 release of Far Skies Deep Time with "Kingmaker" replacing "Master of Time" as the first track.

With each successive album they release, Big Big Train reinforces what they know how to do: make coherent, succinct collections of music. They continue to do this with the offspring of 2009's The Underfall Yard, the EP Far Skies Deep Time. While it may not be as consistent or reach the same heights as its big brother, the album holds its own ground in their catalogue and is perfect for fans who want a little more Big Big Train before English Electric releases later this year.

Far Skies Deep Time is a shorter album than most in this era, coming in at 43 minutes, and containing five songs. The opener and closer are longer more developed songs, with the three in between being shorter and simpler. Like Big Big Train is known for, the songs are in perfect order and the flow from one to the next is masterfully done. Even as an EP, Far Skies Deep Time is a more complete musical package than many full albums released in the last few years.

I do suggest that you buy this version of the album, because the opener, "Kingmaker" is one of the strongest songs by the band I've ever heard. It is wonderfully composed, has one of the most enticing guitar melodies I've ever heard, and has excellent singing. The next three songs are done well, but don't provide the same rush as the first song. If nothing else, they all tell nice stories, and have enough interesting music to hold your attention until the finale.

The final song on the album, "From the Wide Open Sea" is a very well done, 17 minute song. While it is more compartmentalized than and not quite as exciting as its cousin "The Underfall Yard," it is an excellent song and a great conclusion to the album. Again, like the band is known for, "From the Wide Open Sea" takes an old story and puts a spin on it to turn it into a musical adventure. This one in particular tells the tale of Jacques Brel, a Belgian musician who spent most of the end of his life on the sea upon learning of his terminal illness. The lyrics, and in particular, the singing by David Longdon, are in great form, and it's a pleasure to experience both.

Longdon deserves a special mention, as his inclusion to the band a few years ago seems to have been the best thing they could have done. Not only does he bring his excellent voice to their music, but he adds more and more eclecticism the longer he's been with them. He again adds many flute portions and contributes, to my knowledge, the first accordion solo on a prog song, both of which color the music in a unique way.

My only less than stellar comment about the album is that the three middle songs don't have the same quality as the two they are bookended by, whereas on The Underfall Yard all of the songs were excellent, and not just the two longer ones. They certainly don't bring the album down, and have enough to offer that I'm glad they were included.

Small qualm aside, Far Skies Deep Time is a great album, even for an EP, and if you're a fan who can't wait for the next Big Big Train release, this will make the waiting so much more enjoyable. If you're new to the band, check out The Underfall Yard, and if you want more in a similar style, take a look here.

m2thek | 4/5 |


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