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Marc Carlton - For Truth CD (album) cover


Marc Carlton

Crossover Prog

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5 stars 'For Truth', the latest album released by virtuoso progressive solo artist Marc Carlton, is strewn with an embarrassment of beautiful melodies - but there is so much more to this lush and epic album. These euphonious themes are further elevated by the elegant, ravishing atmospheres built up around them, and the questing, thoughtful progression within tracks which makes them so rewarding to listen to. Every time I listen to this album, a different track particularly strikes a chord within me, and it feels like there is always new subtlety to discover.

A piece I always find especially moving is the entrancing 'One Possible Dream'. So hopeful and poignant; sad, but calm and confident at the same time. The classical guitar sound is perfect, and, well - true. It's epic but in a gentle and very beautiful, graceful way - with subtle ideas masterfully depicted - such as the delicacy of possibility and hope recalled exquisitely by shimmering guitar at 6.58.

'Ghosts Where Once We Hid' could be described as mournful, even grievous - but never negative. This is a reflection, a reminiscence that recalls and re-experiences without harsh judgement. I defy any listener not to feel a sharp pang in their core at 5.30, when the introduction of an EP so pure, peaceful, reflective and melancholy but again not heavy or unpleasant, is like the pure aural essence of bittersweet nostalgia.

More forthright and assertive is 'Mindfire', where the classic Carlton electric guitar sound evokes the determination and drive of a long struggle that ultimately finds resolution and distillation.

'Return From Fading Landscapes', one of 3 tracks on the album to break the golden 10-minute mark, creates a real sense of space and scale - the instruments and percussion allowed to breathe and impart all their subtlety. The achingly beautiful, echoing ending is reminiscent of recollections of distant dreams, or memories on the edge of sleep.

On repeated listens, this album feels like the most confident and mature of Marc Carlton's work to date. That should not be taken to say other releases were less worthy, but that this album is even more satisfying, confident, and complex - and beautifully constructed and skilfully performed throughout. The whole has achieved a new level of integration, which is truly marvellous for the ears and soul.

Report this review (#216568)
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Rain Man
5 stars 'For Truth' is Marc Carlton's 7th album. Carlton has taken a different approach to this album compared to his previous 2 releases. This change in direction as installed a different dynamic and freshness to his music which is there for all to hear. This is a 9 track album where each track is self contained rather than being various parts of a longer track like 'Reflex Arc' and 'Ovriah, but still has over arching themes'.

The first track, 'For Truth' starts off slowly and gradually gathers pace over the first 3 minutes, acting as a nice build up using the synthesiser until 3 minutes 40 seconds where the guitar comes in, as crisp and as pure as ever. The track lasts for 12 minutes and is a great start to the album. Carlton once again shows off his ability and talent of creating longer tracks while conveying a relative simplicity to the listener which have that added depth to give the more a tentative listener a challenging listen. This makes the album's longevity longer which in turn makes it more appealing. What I mean by this is that it appears that the songs are easy to listen to on the surface. But when you really look into all the layers of the music and think that every instrument is played by Carlton himself. Makes everything all the more impressive.

Track 2., 'One possible dream' is another 10 minute plus track and shows how good a guitarist Marc is. Every pluck is so powerful and well thought out. It shows an artist who has gone way past just knowing just 3 chords; but someone who knows every fret and chord like the back of his hand.

Track 3 goes back to synthesiser land while 'Caught into the Fourth wall, the fifth track starts off as an eerie affair with a xylophone sound with a synthesiser backdrop. The xylophone type beats continue right the way through the song and when the electric guitar comes in at around the 4 minutes 30 seconds mark it is like a storm has passed over and not caused any damage. People are returning to their normal lives as the music has certain tranquillity about it at this point.

'Mind fire', the sixth track, picks up the pace and continues the electric guitar theme from the last track. At the two minute mark and even more powerful guitar sound comes in and repeats the same riff for a minute until the mood the song takes a dramatic shift from light to dark, going through a quiet acoustic jungle, as if any loud sound will wake up the dangers that are roaming the dense jungle.

The album finishes with a flourish. 'Reason or Die', explodes into life halfway through the track with some fine electric guitar work. It is if throughout the album there is a battle between light and dark, good against evil - Reason or Die. In this case it's like good prevails and overcomes evil. It is an excellent way to finish what is a well thought out and well constructed album.

Overall Carlton manages to not only sustain the high standard of work set by his previous albums but exceed it. The different approach he took to write and develop the album has kept things interesting not only for him but the listener too and has created something magical and timeless.

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Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Not grandiloquent at all

"For truth" is Marc Carlton's latest album at time of writing, although he has recently completed work on "The far tide", a computer game related project. Released in 2009, this is is first full length album since "Reflex arc" in 2005, the interim "Ovriah" being a mini- album of material mostly written some years previously.

As with all his releases, Carlton writes, arranges and performs all the music himself. The theme of the album is a lamenting of the way genuine "truth" has been lost in a world of "subjective" truth, or as Carlton enigmatically puts it "rendered grandiloquent by postmodernist scorn".

This time around the tracks which make up the album are self contained pieces, with no attempt being made to link them together to form a whole. Thus we begin with the relatively lively 12 minute title track, which sees Carlton arguably at his most ambitious, then move directly into an equally long solo acoustic guitar rendition entitled "One Possible Dream". The latter resembles some of the more relaxed works of Steve Hackett or Anthony Phillips, the track as a whole displaying Carlton's admirable guitar virtuosity.

"Ghosts Where Once We Hid" is a fine arrangement of symphonic string synthesiser and acoustic guitar, similar to Vivaldi's "Guitar concerto" as adapted by Continuum and also Steve Howe. "Intersection Minor" is the first of a couple of brief interlude pieces, Steve Hackett's influence once again being apparent on this "Blood on the rooftops" like acoustic guitar rendition.

"Caught In The Fourth Wall" has a rather spacey atmosphere to begin with, before moving into perhaps the heaviest territory Carlton has ever allowed himself to stray into. There is a rather doomy undercurrent to the music here which belies any notion that Marc does not have ambitions beyond the pleasant and relaxing. Things brighten up again with "Mindfire", where melodic guitar is backed by symphonic strings.

"Return From Fading Landscapes" is the final track to breach 10 minutes (the album runs to over 70 minutes in total). Here we have an odd blend of the light and the dark, with melodic twinkling being counterpointed by some decidedly darker moods. Carlton's lead guitar work is the high point here.

The second of the interlude pieces is naturally called "Intersection Major" this "Horizons" like track running to under 2 minutes. The closing "Reason Or Die" draws together the moods and sounds of the album in a single, beautifully crafted piece. Chorale and string keyboards blend with some fine lead guitar and surprisingly intrusive percussion to create a track which is more demanding of the listener than the bulk of Carlton's work.

In all, "For truth" stands as Marc Carlton's most accomplished work to date. Here, he displays a confidence in both the technology he uses and his own talents, allowing him to explore more challenging territories than hitherto. The tenets which have serve him well on previous albums are still reassuringly in evidence, but here he uses those values as a foundation from which he builds something truly inspired.

Report this review (#302638)
Posted Thursday, October 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars As other reviewers have mentioned, this is an album of many layers and much to demand of the listener. Although at first glance the set of sounds present makes it superficially similar to the previous couple of albums, in terms of density 'For Truth' is a very different beast, sharing more with Carlton's early work. There is so much going on in this album that it's taken me a long time to fully feel at ease with it. Despite this, the investment is well worth it- with moments here standing among Carlton's finest and most mature.

The title track introduces the album slowly, synths gradually building a reflective atmosphere which the lead guitar decisively cuts through at 3:40 and by the 5 minute mark has an energetic and fresh sound which reminds me somehow of the first track on 'Reflex Arc'. Guitar dances deftly around piano on this track in a scene-setting or laying out of principles for the album to come. At 9:25 particularly, a burst of distorted guitar adds passion and drive to the previously cerebral piano, which could showcase the relevance and intertwining of Carlton's liner note philosophy snippets into everyday life.

'One Possible Dream', a feat of primarily acoustic genius at nearly 12 minutes, starts at pace and sounds quite busy with close layers of different guitars. Rising and falling, in full flow and then suddenly hesitant, this is an exquisitely crafted piece that effortlessly sweeps you along in its story throughout. There's lots here that is reminiscent of Carlton's earlier album 'An Ageless Sense' and a favourite moment for me are the high notes in the first half of the seventh minute - the epitome of bittersweet.

In contrast, the opening strings of 'Ghosts Where Once We Hid' lie thick and heavy on the soul before the atmosphere brightens to make room for sparse guitar to tell its story from 2:15. Another exercise in bittersweet reflection, but one that seems to somehow resolve itself after 5:20, with the remainder of the track very different. It reminds me vaguely of a child's music box being reheard and remembered fondly as an adult- a nostalgia of sorts, but not a regretful one.

'Intersection Minor' is an obvious pair to the later 'Intersection Major'- both of which successfully help to break up an album otherwise made up of lengthy tracks. Unlike the latter, here the guitar is pensive and incredibly sad, at points seeming to sink into a hopeless and ruminating despair. Continuing this theme, 'Caught in the Fourth Wall' has a fantastic Silent Hill feeling to it, atmospheric and full of odd percussive elements; it is like being frozen in the dread and horror of absurdity, feeling half in and half out of touch with the world. The tension here is broken when its grumblings of discontent and alienation are given voice, made explicit by the entrance of the lead guitar at 4:38. Quite an unusual sounding track, and a personal favourite.

The following track, 'Mindfire', is a tricky one and can seem ass-backwards at first: almost as if it starts with a conclusion; a confident guitar exhausting and replenishing itself before dealing with breakdown and murmuring doubt in the middle section, resolving itself with a burble of building guitars before bursting out and surprising you with a reiteration of its main theme. One of the hardest tracks to get my head around but one which in turn I still feel has more to reveal to me yet after two years of listening.

'Return from Fading Landscapes', a turbulent and beautiful piece, starts with a plaintive buzzing like a siren call to memory. It's a track of contrasts as sparse and weighty keyboard work is interrupted abruptly by the guitar and percussion at 3:30, warming and brightening the whole thing. Full of fragility and gravity throughout, the strings at 5:13 add intensity before a breakdown at 6:04 which leaves keyboards echoing into nothingness. The piercing re-entry of the guitar at 6:50 is a peak of poignancy leaving the rest of the track pondering and consolidating its resolution.

The warm acoustic notes of 'Intersection Major' are welcome to the ear at this point, a pastoral and folksy piece with a more traditional structure that is executed with confidence. The following 'Reason or Die' concludes the album with a flourish, the brooding momentum of its percussion and strains of electric guitar reaching a crescendo in its 6th minute before leaving dreamy, pondering synths to end the album as they began it.

A few reviewers of Carlton's previous albums have labelled them 'relaxation' music, a judgement I have always felt to be short-sighted, but I particularly defy the reader to listen to this offering and say the same thing. If you believe that then you are simply not listening. This is extremely cerebral music absolutely packed full of stuff to ponder. If you want relaxation have a cup of tea and listen to whale song or something. If, however, what you want is brain food from a skilled and dedicated solo artist, you can't go far wrong with this.

Report this review (#493151)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2011 | Review Permalink

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