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Lobate Scarp - Spirals and Portals CD (album) cover


Lobate Scarp

Crossover Prog

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Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars 'There's nothing wrong with my life, I'm doing what I wanna do' ... yeah, lucky you, good to know. After about seven years here we have a new statement from the band, which is still headed by Adam Sears. Back then their debut album made my day really. And seriously, though being able to school myself in patience, at some point I wouldn't make a bet that there ever might be something following. But things often will not turn out the way you expect, you know, this time with a promising result. 'Spirals And Portals' is comprised of three new songs, plus one radio edit. Sounds like produced with spirit of optimism, as for that I'm sure there will come more soon. Hopefully.

'Spirals And Portals' is able to cheer the heart of many passionated prog fans. A balanced unity of charming and heavier rocking parts. Well, there's nothing totally different on the table. Hence the recognition value, the typical band flair is somewhat evident. First and foremost due to Adam's exceptional singing voice and keyboard magic. With that said, they are drawing on the debut somehow, even some musicians like Andy Catt (bass) and Hoyt Binder (guitar) are present again when it comes to the comprehensive line up. The focus is on melodic rock compositions as usual, equipped with stunning vocal arrangements and some exceptional instruments.

And so Nothing Wrong for example is showing a rather psychedelic opening, including dilruba input provided by Rich Mouser. Powerful furthermore though, a remarkable refrain, this for sure will heavily stimulate the audience on a live gig. My favourite, so much to explore. An opulent atmosphere is given, diverse keyboard variants, also implying violin and viola. And We Tried follows as a strong companion, shines with varying speed and mood too. Beautiful Light finally derives from a 2016 attempt with diverse wind instruments, appears a bit more ballad-esque and mainstream rock oriented. Definitely with hit character, if ever intended. 'Spirals And Portals' marks a successful rebirth. I mean you will rapidly be convinced that this is made of adorable songs with heart and mind.

Report this review (#2246741)
Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Lobate Scarp is a Crossover Prog band from the US, founded in 2006. In 2012, the band released an ambitious album called 'Time and Space', what they describe as a space opera that featured a cast of over 50 musicians, if you count the choir. Other than this album, the only other two recordings are both EPs

In September of 2019, the band released their 2nd, 4 track EP called 'Spirals and Portals'. There is once again, quite a large cast of musicians and performers for this EP. It starts off with 'Nothing Wrong' (6:56). The spooky sound of a slow developing introduction is accented by a dilruba, and eventually vocals come in and the music finally settles into a mid-tempo track that is quite straightforward except for a few progressive fills here and there. There is some stellar guitar and violin work mixed in with synths during the instrumental break, but the straightforward sound hardly gets interrupted. The chorus is also quite repetitive. With all of the voices and instruments, it all still seems like there is nothing really outstanding going on here. 'And We Tried' (7:31) is a much slower and softer track. It's an okay melody, which eventually picks up tempo a bit, but again, it's all quite straightforward. Adam Sears' vocals are really not that dynamic either, though they are okay to listen to, but again, about as average as the music. There are less musicians involved on this track, but quite honestly, you would probably not notice. As before, there are some good guitar and synth fills, but even the increase of intensity later on in the track really doesn't do much to up the energy level.

'Beautiful Light' (6:00) brings in more musicians again. The music is again mellow, full of acoustic guitar and synths that try to evoke expansiveness. There is a use of strings again, but they are not utilized very well, and don't really stand out much. They even brings in woodwinds to try for a symphonic prog style, and utilize the extra singers to make an attempt at rock opera styles, but they fail at both. The melody is uninteresting and a bit corny. This EP ends with a 'radio edit' of 'Nothing Wrong' (5:11). Nothing different here, just less meandering in the introduction, the singing starts earlier.

This EP is a good example that tracks over 6 minutes, fancy album artwork, and a host of musicians and guests don't make music progressive, nor does it make a mediocre song any more interesting. The 'cast of musicians' just don't make the music anymore interesting, so unfortunately for the band, all of the extras are nothing but filler. You can't make music more interesting by adding more people or by repeating lyrics to make a song longer. These things do not a progressive band make. It's all just much ado about nothing.

Report this review (#2250824)
Posted Thursday, September 12, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars This is the first time I have come across Lobate Scarp, who released their debut (and to date only) album back in 2012, followed it up with a single in 2016 and are now back with an EP. The band is based around singer and keyboard player Adam Sears, while other stalwarts have been Andy Catt (bass, vocals) and drummer Mike Gerbrandt: it is also interesting to see the involvement of none other than Rich Mouser, the famed Spock's Beard producer. There are three new songs on this 25-minute-long EP, plus a slightly shortened radio edit of opening song 'Nothing Wrong.' Aside from the core band, they also bring in many more musicians when the time is right, although not as many as on their debut when (including the members of the choir) they boast more than 50 people were involved.

This is pleasant melodic rock with progressive tendencies here and there, but there are some interesting sections and approaches which made me think more of neo prog, especially on the rambunctious chorus for 'Nothing Wrong'. I was enjoying what I was hearing, without anything massively resonating if I am being honest. Then I came to third song 'Beautiful Light', which is different to the others both in style and content. It soars, it is commercial, it contains more diversity and spread than the others, and I sat up, paid real interest, and wished there were more like this. Hopefully, this EP, after such a gap, shows that the band is more active again as I really want to hear a full album from these guys.

Report this review (#2378788)
Posted Saturday, May 9, 2020 | Review Permalink

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