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Elegant Simplicity


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Elegant Simplicity Purity And Despair album cover
3.72 | 19 ratings | 4 reviews | 16% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. When Darkness Falls (13:50)
2. The Quantum Of Solace (14:12)
3. Tranquility And Drift (19:40)
4. Aching Desire (12:00)
5. Purity And Despair (7:48)

Total Time: 67:30

Line-up / Musicians

- Steven McCabe / acoustic & electric guitars, guitar synth, organ, piano, Mellotron, synthesizers, flute, mandolin, samples, effects, arranger & producer
- Gilbert Ross / fretted & fretless basses
- Peter J. Douglas / acoustic & electric drums, percussion, noises

Releases information

CD Proximity Records - ESCD 10 (1998, UK)

FLAC Proximity Records - ESDDL 10 (www)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Purity And Despair ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (47%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Purity And Despair reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
4 stars This is ELEGANT SIMPLICITY's 10th album and it's all instrumental. The 8 pages CD-booklet contains many fantastic coloured pictures made by the multi-instrumentalist Steven McCabe, who also has composed and arranged all the songs. Each page contains a collection of pictures on the theme that represents the mood in each song.

The album contains music that is a mix of romantic, melodic heavy rock, progressive rock, symphonic rock, fusion, folk, jazz and orchestral themes that are going through constant changes. This is also a little step forward from the 1997 years album "Reversal Of Time", even though it's a little too poppy for this genre. The influences you can hear are CAMEL, ELP, IQ, JETHRO TULL, KITARO, Mike OLDFIELD, Anthony PHILLIPS and Rick WAKEMAN. Steven McCabe is no guitar virtuoso, but he has a very beautiful way of playing and he is doing some great solos. The drummer though is a little bit lame in his playing. Unfortunately this is affecting the overall impression of the album in a negative way. Still this is a very good album that is growing maturer with every listening. It not a radio friendly album considering the songs and the length of every track.

The best tracks are "Tranquility And Drift" and "Aching Desire". Listen to ELEGANT SIMPLICITY...!

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Purity and Despair is an instrumental recording from 1998 and was perhaps the first Elegant Simplicity album to hit the prog world with any impact and make a few of us sit up and notice. "When Darkness Falls" is whopping nearly 14 minute groove exercise in shifting moods and atmospheres , initially with ballsy synth and guitar-driven interventions , propelled by slick bass and solid drumming, with various flute intermezzos generally escorted by some deep mellotron surges. When the bass sets down the repetitive furrow, the signal is clear for soloist Stephen McCabe to unleash his rather impetuous multi- textured guitar style that is quite different from Latimer/Gilmour sound or even extend some magic fingers over the synthesized ivories, tossing in a few sonic effects via sampling and such. There is a definite frenzy about Elegant Simplicity that seems to go unnoticed but coats the proceedings with an urgency that keeps these long rambling instrumentals always invigorating and unanticipated. In fact, there are overt signs of angst, fury and passion salting the arrangements and no hint of any placid boredom at all. I have actually enjoyed this album while driving on extended business road trips and feeling the Prog wind blowing through my hair. "The Quantum of Solace" is not the soundtrack to the recent Bond film (you ninnies!) but a bluesy prance through dense foliage of sonic episodes, varying from silky exaltations to thicker rock manifestations, some outright piano passages that recall old fashioned Brit-Prog in all its reserved and quaint splendor . If there is a small caveat, it's squarely focused on the rather rubbery and perfunctory drum patterns from Peter Douglas that can augur a feeling of slogging along. He keeps time and that's all folks! Too bad, I say! The soloing is outright inspiring though, especially in the brilliant second half, the thrilling flute beckoning the folly, with more impetus in the synthesizer placements giving way to that sultry organ as it steps in with devastating authority. The piece then veers into a short acoustic guitar/mellotron duet that is arguably the epitome of symphonic prog with flute and mandolin adornments that elicit wonder and amazement. The nearly 20 minute "Tranquility and Drift" relies on serene piano and flute to set the scenery, delicate organ adds to the bravado until the delirious guitar chimes in , oozing a sense of purity and well,.. despair. Vacillating themes provide palatable platforms for Mr. McCabe to solo his heart out, even on exotic acoustic guitar as well as his usually seductive electric style. Hey, the man can play! When the piano settles in the glow expands into sophisticated realms and this long ride is a monumental stroke of prog genius. Many may find the arrangements to be too lengthy and some may wish for more concise pieces but this is Elegant Simplicity's style and it ain't pop either and regardless of the incorrect "neo" tag associated with this band, they like to play on. The shrieking axe makes an otherworldly appearance that constantly sketches out new sonorities and virtuosic flair. The stretched synth getaways are equally compelling and infuse even more polish to the whole. "Arching Desire" bass-booms ahead with some massive synth washes as the wallowing flute mournfully forges the main melody, all quite provocatively orchestrated with luxuriant strings, this is effectively the most overtly classical of McCabe's pieces as the Wakeman-esque grand piano enters the court with grace and style. The churning Hammond joins the harder drums in driving implicitly forward, drenched in deep melancholia and when the growling guitar kicks in, the bliss overcomes you! An anguished fret solo hits home with unabated passion, driving into the subterranean heart. An amazing slice of cinematographic prog. The title track puts this pleasant disc to rest, a serious diversion from the previous onslaughts, with a Procol Harum organ gently sweeping ahead of a beckoning flute, gently rocking the mood as a raging guitar makes a definite melodic statement, highly evocative and expressive. Not as memorable as the upcoming Architect of Light but a sure-fire addition to those who like to bliss out and enjoy great soloing. 4 uncontaminated tears
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Purity And Despair'' marks the 10th overall release by the overproductive project named Elegant Simplicity,led by multi-instrumentalist Steven McCabe.But it doesnt mark any significant changes regarding the sound of the band.

And it seems that Elegant Simplicity is a name perfectly chosen for this project.Because the five instrumental epics and mini-epics of the album are quite simplistic and accesible,but at the same time so elegant,delicate and why not challenging.Mc Babe delivers modern Progressive Rock based on refined melodies and a smooth atmosphere with good and careful use of keys,not far from soft Symphonic Rock bands like CHANCE or THE FOUNDATION.The later tracks feature also a more symphonic structure with some nice flutes and CAMEL are a great comparison point.Not everything of course goes the right way,as the electronic drums sound too mechanical and the album has a rather ''digitilized'' sound overall...But nobody's (or almost nobody) perfect.

I enjoyed this album very much despite its weak points to the point asking myself why this band and such a talented artist are so overlooked.You should give them a shot,especially if delicate,smooth,melodic Classic Prog Rock is your thing.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Following on from #69 where I reviewed the three most recent Elegant Simplicity albums I now have had the opportunity to hear the two albums previous to that. 'Purity and Despair' was released in 1998 and was the follow-up to 'Reversal Of Time' which I reviewed in 1997. This album is solely instrumental, and Steve McCabe has again employed some extra musicians, this time in Peter Douglas (guitars) and Gilbert Ross (basses). Of course Steven then manages to bring the kitchen sink to the ensemble, giving it a very full sound indeed (one small niggle, a 'live' drummer would have given it a better sound.

What is immediately apparent is the way that the music moves and flows, sometimes returning to a previous theme or moving on in a new direction. The music can be led through 'modern' style keyboards or a mellotron, or acoustic guitar or electric, but it always keeps the interest and could never be considered boring or background. Instrumental albums need to be something a bit special to keep the listener involved, and this is laid back yet at the time passionate and brings together melodies in a way that really works. Camel are again a main influence and I would urge fans of that band to search this out.

Originally appeared in Feedback #70, Oct 02

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