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COSMOGRAF

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Cosmograf biography
Robin Armstrong - Born in Waterlooville (Portsmouth), England

COSMOGRAF is a progressive rock project lead by the multi instrumentalist Robin Armstrong. The sound is rooted in 70s classic rock with a contemporary and progressive twist.

Robin Armstrong (pictured) plays guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, sings, and records, producing himself and fellow collaborating musicians, in his home studio, 'The Trees', self built at the bottom of the garden. The project is now in it's third incarnation, with a number of talented musicians from the progressive rock community performing and writing on the new album 'When Age has Done it's Duty'.

'Neo prog' is about as close as you can get to a label but the occasional lapse into straight metal or even classical, often dumbfounds a catch all description. I've never been very talented in weaving the genres seamlessly together like 'Yes' would do. It's fairly clear where it's at though, when you listen to it.

I've always enjoyed music that polarizes audiences and demands attention. As a teenager I was captivated by Deep Purple's fusion of Heavy Rock with Baroque intros or lead lines. It's just fun, to throw in something that is completely unexpected but yet just fits.

I much prefer to write music around concepts. Progressive Rock allows you the freedom to span genres, stop and start in different tempos, insert mad sound effects and generally tell a story or simply create a soundscape with no real meaning. This creates a musical freedom far beyond the commerical rules and constraints of a 3min pop song.

Photo by Paul Johnson

COSMOGRAF Videos (YouTube and more)


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Mind Over DepthMind Over Depth
Cosmograf 2019
$11.51
$23.36 (used)
Hay-Man DreamsHay-Man Dreams
Cosmograf 2017
$23.99
$13.71 (used)
When Age Has Done Its Duty: 2018 RemixWhen Age Has Done Its Duty: 2018 Remix
Cosmograf 2018
$13.49
$10.86 (used)
Unreasonable SilenceUnreasonable Silence
JFK 2016
$19.99
$19.99 (used)
CapacitorCapacitor
JFK 2014
$19.99
$19.99 (used)
When Age Has Done Its DutyWhen Age Has Done Its Duty
Plane Groovy 2018
$57.99
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COSMOGRAF discography


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COSMOGRAF top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.97 | 49 ratings
End Of Ecclesia
2009
3.74 | 170 ratings
When Age Has Done Its Duty
2011
3.89 | 239 ratings
The Man Left In Space
2013
3.88 | 180 ratings
Capacitor
2014
3.82 | 77 ratings
The Unreasonable Silence
2016
3.78 | 63 ratings
The Hay-Man Dreams
2017
3.85 | 62 ratings
Mind Over Depth
2019

COSMOGRAF Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

COSMOGRAF Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

COSMOGRAF Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

COSMOGRAF Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.33 | 3 ratings
A Festive Ghost
2017

COSMOGRAF Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mind Over Depth by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.85 | 62 ratings

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Mind Over Depth
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Cosmograf is a Neo-Prog project from multi-instrumentalist Robin Armstrong from England. Armstrong plays most of the instruments on his albums, but often recruits guests to help out on occasion. He has released 7 full length albums under the Cosmograf moniker since 2009. The 7th album is called "Mind Over Depth" which was released in April of 2019 and it features guests Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) playing bass on the first 2 tracks, and also Kyle Fenton on drums and backing vocals. The music on the album centers around using the power of the mind to help us rise above our status in life. There are 5 long tracks that have a total runtime of over 45 minutes.

"A Million Choices" opens the album with the longest track at over 11 minutes. It fades in slowly with processed spoken vocals and a mysterious sounding atmosphere made by various synths and keys. It slowly builds with a cinematic feel until heavy power chords from guitars and drums kick in after 2 minutes. The guitar takes the melodic spotlight and bring in vocals. Vocals continue until after 5 minutes after which the guitars continue with a heavy prog sound not unlike Porcupine Tree's later sound. Later sung vocals and the same spoken vocal style from the beginning trade back and forth while the guitars thump along and eventually take over with a solo. Just before the 10 minute mark, things calm down and become atmospheric with symphonic sounding synths and wordless vocals and the volume builds again to finish off with another guitar solo.

"Godspeed" starts pensively with keys and vocals before a slower beat starts and pushes things forward. This 9 minute track again has that PT style and, as expected, heavy guitars and rhythm soon take over, but keeping things at a moderately slow tempo. Robin's vocals are more unique however, and can become quite solid at times while other times can be somewhat vulnerable sounding. An echo effect is used on his vocals as later as the track continues. There are also some nice harmonies on the choruses. Things get suddenly darker before the 6 minute mark, and guitars and bass churn out a solid and ominous sound. Vocals also continue during this time and play a more important part than on the first track.

"The Smoke and the Flame" is a more standard sounding song which starts with a guitar/synth introduction with a straightforward sound and theme, then calms before the vocals start. The singing is backed by sustained synth notes and a somewhat softer rhythm section, the chorus being a bit more intense, but still seeming to hold back a bit. Again calm returns with a Gilmour style guitar and spoken words in the background. When the 2nd verse comes in, the same pattern repeats. After 5 minutes, a heavy and excellent guitar driven section comes in after which the chorus repeats and the track soon ends.

"Sharks" goes back to a heavy, dark sound starting with strong guitars, then calming, staying dark and ominous when the vocals start. Alternating heavy and soft sections continue, things remain dark, synths give things a symphonic feel and the track remains dynamic and changing, alternating from a Neo sound to a more Heavy Prog sound, but always retaining that mysterious and dark texture. There is a layered vocal "slide" downward in there that is pretty effective in the overall sinister feel of the track. This is a great track with some effective dynamics throughout.

The last track is "Goodbye to All Illusions". It fades in with a bubbling synth loop and atmospheric guitar in the background. There are some mysterious sounding spoken vocals that retain the dark sound of the preceding track. Soon, a deep synth pushes towards a sudden increase in intensity as more guitar comes in and churns along supporting another guitar playing a theme. At 4 minutes, things calm again and some nice keyboards take over, changing the texture to a more plush sound and an electronic drum beat comes in while falsetto vocals come in, and then the heavy guitar comes back in to support the singing. The track returns the mysterious style as it comes to a close.

This is the first album I have heard from Cosmograf, but apparently this album is more guitar driven than the previous albums by the project. I do know that it does have that Heavy Prog sound that seems to be similar to Porcupine Tree's later music, but there are times when a more Neo Prog sound does come in. There are some very strong tracks here that I consider the highlights, those being the first two tracks and "Sharks". The other two tracks are a bit weaker, but not terrible by any means, just not as interesting. Overall, this is a good effort and a decent album, and those that love the Heavy Prog sound will love this, but some Neo-Prog fans might find it a little too guitar heavy. There isn't anything really groundbreaking here, but there is still some really great and strong music which mostly stays on the dark side as far as texture goes. Anyway, it's an effort that is well done, and manages to make a 4 star level.

 The Hay-Man Dreams by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.78 | 63 ratings

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The Hay-Man Dreams
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by shaunch

4 stars It is winter here in New Zealand but I am a teacher with two weeks off in the school hols and time to listen and absorb this new offering from Robin Armstrong and guests. I have to say that I would probably give" The Hay man Dreams" 4.5 star rating with a view to maybe the full 5 stars in the future. I don't think this is supposed to be a masterpiece, unless you can accept that a "less is more" approach is enough to warrant any album this title. This collection of songs flies in the face of the overused term "progressive" and it is reassuring that it does. I have been frustrated by much of the anticipated music over the last 7 months and if it wasn't for a recent UK trip which momentarily side stepped market towns, castles and fine ales to an IQ concert and the Marillion weekend, I would have some serious withdrawal symptoms. Personally, I would say that any music that has twists and turns and darkness and light alongside thoughtful ideas, concepts and lyrics does it for me, it doesn't need to progress beyond that. There is not a weak moment on this album and is a great follow up to last years "unreasonable silence" although they are different but equally effective. One thing that I have enjoyed is the confidence in the singing of Robin Armstrong which was not always present in the past. He is able to convey his emotions in a number of guises ranging from that quiet almost spoken word of Ian Anderson or Fish to the melancholy of Steve Hogarth to the angst of Roger Daltrey. The minimalist approach of the music is it's strength as it doesn't try too hard to be anything but a solid rock album, this is most evident in the tracks; "Trouble in the forest", "Cut the corn" and "Melancholy death of a gamekeeper" which is the main catalyist for the theme of the album. How could the themes, I guess, of loss and yearning be better portrayed than with restraint and melancholic beauty. This restraint is all over the album, in the offering from guest musicians who never try to take over , the backup and lead vocals from Rachel Hall which just add a sense of dreaminess and almost ghostly affect, to the narration which is never guilty of over staying it's welcome; instead it actually adds to the overall feel and continuity, not unsurprising as these are words are spoken by David Allan who was the BBC continuity announcer for almost 30 years.

A teacher who must save their best verbal attacks for the best possible affect, this is also apparent in this album, which let's loose on three occasions, opening with "Tethered and bound", the raucous rock build up in 'The motorway" and during the climax in the title track before restraint is resumed. The feeling built up is frustration and a longing that has become too much for the Hay- man, and you can feel it.

This album is not the best by Cosmograf but not the worst either,it is just different, does that make it progressive for Cosmograf? I am more than happy to keep listening to this style of music and thumbs up to Cosmograf who have given the first album for a while that has had me going back to it on multiple occasions for quite a while.

 Capacitor by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.88 | 180 ratings

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Capacitor
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Once again Cosmograf has come up with a gorgeous sounding concept album--with a very intriguing topic and some very cool incidental samples used to help string the songs together. However, I find, as I have on previous Cosmograf albums, that there is just something lacking to really draw the listener back for more. Once the story's been heard, the music is forgettable. The ambience of the incredibly well-engineered music is dreamy--great for background music, but Robin Armstong has brought very little new or exciting to the prog table. Instead, he's served up a meal of sumptuous flavor but nothing we haven't had before.

Favorite songs: the album's opener, "The Spirit Capture" (7:37) for its excellent set up of the album's story (8/10); the most memorable and varied song of the album with its beautiful melodies and simple instrumental support, "The Drover" (6:37) (10/10), and the guest party jam; "Stuck in the Wood" (6:27) (8/10).

3.5 stars rated up cuz this is, IMO, Cosmograf's best, so far.

 Capacitor by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.88 | 180 ratings

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Capacitor
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by ExLibrisPetri

4 stars Sometimes, when listening to a new album, your first impression, from the heart not the head, sticks. Even after repeated listens, this a prime facie impression of Capacitor is "they nailed it!". Although Cosmograf aren't "they" (it's a one-man-band augmented by more than a little help from his friends), it's the the whole of all the contributors that exceeds the sum of their parts, so to speak, Damned, did they nail it! It's dark, it's addictive, it's hard prog rock with an edge. Floydian for sure, but then again with Porcupinian (mmmm... he's with his head in The Trees) and Radioheadish flavors that together serve a tasty dish of haute cuisine prog. My favorite track(s) is The Drover / White Car binary so(u)l system. Although not exemplary for the albums as such, and I don't know why, it just resonates at a cosmographic level. As a concept album, capturing the soul in an electro-magnetic contraption, it fully succeeds in terms of coherence and continuation. With really astounding musicianship! This album deserves a solid 4 star rating without a shadow of a doubt, but it certainly has the retrospective capacity to evolve into a 5 star shining victory. Time will tell whether essence or essentiality will free this soul album from it's electrifying shackles. I'm still captured, one way or the other.
 When Age Has Done Its Duty by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.74 | 170 ratings

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When Age Has Done Its Duty
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The journey of Mr. Robin Armstrong continues in 2011 with the album ''When age has done its duty'', after Cosmograf was signed by the Festival/F2 label.Armstrong was inspired for this concept by a loss within his family circle and the album deals with the process of ageing.While he handles again multiple instruments and sings, this work features also some great guests: Huw Lloyd-Jones (vocals), Simon Rogers (guitars) and Steve Dunn (bass) from Also Eden, It Bites' drummer Bob Dalton, Luke Machin (guitars) of The Tangent and Maschine fame, Galahad's Lee Abraham on guitars/bass, Steve Thorne on lead and backing voices as well as drummer Dave Ware.

It seems that such a living concept, a real personal experience, was what Armstrong needed to fully develop his talent as a composer.''When age has done its duty'' contains some impressive dramatic passages and melancholic movements, really suitable to such a dark and deeply emotional concept, divided in eight tracks, most of which are longer than seven minutes.The album appears to a be a nice tribute to the history of British Progressive Rock, covering the years of the symphonic-oriented groups, giving respect to the thrilling vibes of PINK FLOYD, visiting the rural soundscapes of the British lands and transmitting the modern echoes of bands like ARENA and PORCUPINE TREE.Once more an album by Cosmograf serves the need for atmospheric soundscapes, but two years of added experience have showed Robin how to do this properly.The album features some great, Classical-drenched preludes on organ, bucolic GENESIS-influenced acoustic passages and the heavier/modern tunes of contemporary Prog, displayed on the edgy electric guitars and the mascular synthesizers.ALSO EDEN are also among the bands, which Cosmograf recall of, while the love for old Prog is also evident in a couple of Mellotron samplers and the RICK WAKEMAN-like organ showering.Armstrong has given space to some instrumental maturity, but his lyrical moments belong also among the album's highlights.

Finally, Robin has found its own, inspired way to offer his music ideas.Contemporary Progressive Rock with atmosphere, passion and sensitivity in full display.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Capacitor by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.88 | 180 ratings

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Capacitor
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Last year, I was blown away by an album that seemed to come out of nowhere. Cosmograf's "The Man Left in Space" captured my imagination with not only its sharp riffs and piercing keys, but also its undressed humanity and its emotional climax. Now, only a year later, Robin Armstrong has again brought his one-man project to my ears. Of course, it's not so much a one-man project anymore, as he's brought many guests once again to help make his music diverse and stunningly performed. Guests include Matt Stevens (whom also released an amazing solo album this year), Andy Tillison, Nick Beggs, Nick D'Virgilio, and others. As you can see, this new album from Cosomograf is almost a "who's who" of modern progressive rock!

"Capacitor" is a very different album from its predecessors, but is somehow instantly familiar, too. Armstrong's signature guitar sound is woven throughout the album once again, ranging from strong riffing to solos and acoustic sections. His guitar is impeccable. Though not as striking as before, the keys on this album also create a wonderfully fluid environment for the rest of the music to mature. The occasional keyboard solos are worth the price of admission themselves. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The musicianship on this album is basically as good as it could ever be. With the heavyweights adding their parts, the instruments are tight, unified, and mind blowing at times. Everything from the bouncing bass lines to the organic, precise drumming is pure perfection.

This album has an interesting concept that somewhat directs the style of music. The concept is the storage of the human spirit, and how we leave an imprint behind both spiritually and technologically. Therefore, the album is again full of voice-overs that seem to allude to Tesla and Edison and the like. The time when science almost seemed like magic is a strong influence on this album. It's a good theme, though I don't enjoy it as much as the desperation of "The Man Left in Space". The latter directed the music in a spacier, more sci- fi sound, but the theme of "Capacitor" lends more to a more colorful, rockier atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with this, and I think that the music proves that. However, I just prefer the more atmospheric approach.

"Capacitor" has some very strong songs, though they do blend together a bit. They certainly have less individual personality. However, they are excellent nonetheless. If there is a continuing theme through the music of Cosmograf, it would certainly be darkness. I find it throughout this new album. The album begins with a voice-over heavy track of grounded technological wonder, but soon dives headfirst into the darkness of which I spoke. "The Fear Created" is a great song with dark guitar-drive movements and feelings that leave quite an impression. My favorite song on the album, however, is the sublime "White Car". This track is saturated with emotion and is so incredibly clear on its lyrical content that it will bring tears to your eyes. The music is moody, careful, and elegant, but the emotional impact is raw and bold.

The second half of "Capacitor" is probably the better half, as I feel that the third and fourth tracks somewhat lose their way and their charm. After "White Car", however, the album doesn't lose steam, as the last two tracks cover much ground, ranging from heavy rock to the especially moody heartache of "Stuck in the Wood", a song so full of guests and inspiration that it almost bursts out of my headphones to grasp my eardrums.

Much of this album does feel alive, almost like the spirits are stored within its very files. It does have a supernatural, yet somehow mechanistic, feel: somehow both strikingly cold and real and also electric and brilliantly metaphysical at the same time. "Capacitor", then, is a rock solid follow-up to an album that I consider a masterpiece, and it is with great respect that I salute Robin Armstrong for his undying ability to be creative and compose music from his heart.

 The Man Left In Space by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.89 | 239 ratings

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The Man Left In Space
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'm such a sucker for sci-fi concepts. There have been great ones this year thus far; such as Hibernal, Cynthesis, and Sound of Contact. All three of those artists have produced masterpieces, in my opinion. I think I can add Cosmograf to that list, too. This multi- instrumentalist from the UK has quite an affinity for concept albums, and his new album might be the most in-depth concept yet.

Robin Armstrong, the name behind Cosmograf, plays every instrument on "The Man Left in Space", though he does have some special guests help out, too. He also produces and mixes his work. If that weren't impressive enough, he has also written quite an incredible story here. "The Man Left in Space" is about the aspiration, success, and achievement that men pursue at all costs. It is also about the failures and the ultimate futility of all of this. Interestingly, we've seen this concept a few times in the last couple years, and that's okay. I think it is a sign of our times as financial, environmental, and physical ruin seem to be larger then we can handle. Now, the album centers on these themes, but it discusses them through an analogy: A doomed space mission that is meant to save mankind. The man character, Sam, experiences a range of emotions and stages; such as isolation, failure, fear, unhappiness, and eventually nothingness. His conversations with the ship's A.I. are heartbreaking and profound; and honestly remind me slightly of Master Chief and Cortana. I was really impressed by all of this.

As for the music, Cosmograf is somewhat hard to peg. This band is usually labeled as neo- prog, but I hear Deep Purple, King Crimson, and maybe even some more contemporary bands in here, too. The mix is slightly eclectic, and so this album takes a few listens to appreciate fully. It's a real grower. Particularly, there is some great drumming and guitar work, both of them being powerfully presented. The synth is incredible as well, and this entire album seems to hum similarly to Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine. It feels alive, and this adds to the effect of the storyline.

Cosmograf is a band that hadn't been on my radar. After this incredible album, I will be following the band indefinitely. If Armstrong can continue to create incredible concepts along with spirited and atmospheric music, he has got a fan for life in me.

 The Man Left In Space by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.89 | 239 ratings

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The Man Left In Space
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by bonestorm

4 stars Cosmograf's 2013 release "The Man Left In Space" is an intriguing and atmospheric journey filled with some amazing lead guitar and a feast of interesting themes that are worth contemplating well after the music has died away.

Ostensibly this concept album revolves around Sam, an astronaut who, as the title suggests, is cut adrift, alone, in the depths of space. In reality it is an allegorical tale revolving around themes that affect many of us in modern life such as ambition and our perceptions of success. The idea works well and we're drawn into Sam's lonely encapsulated world with the dispassionate voices of computers his only companions.

Many of the greatest aspects of this album are showcased on the second track, "Aspire, Achieve". There's gorgeous acoustic guitar and a great vocal melody interspersed with some blazing hard rock riffing reminiscent of Deadwing-era Porcupine Tree. The lead guitar in the latter half of the song is some of the best I've heard in years. Performed by Robin Armstrong, the architect behind all things Cosmograf, it really is worth the price of admission alone. There are many guest guitarists on this album, which adds a distinct flavour to many of the tracks, but it's evident from this performance that Robin could have carried these duties admirably all on his own.

I'll also single out the title track as a prog masterpiece. The interplay of acoustic and lead guitar in the intro is phenomenal. There's a number of phases and emotions as the song runs its course and the musicianship is top notch. It's also the point on the album at which most of the themes come to a head, so in that regard it serves as the centrepiece. As it fades a woman's voice implores "Think of me always", which is one of the more touching moments as there's an injection of humanity into Sam's world.

The use of sound effects, voice actors and samples is expertly carried out on this album and really creates a unique atmosphere. The only facet that left me wanting was that I struggled to form an emotional connection with the protagonist, but in any case this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the music or the performances on this album.

If you're looking for a well conceived concept album with some stellar performances then you can't go wrong with this one.

8.5/10

 The Man Left In Space by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.89 | 239 ratings

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The Man Left In Space
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by lukretio

3 stars I discovered this album on progstreaming.com. I have to say that at first I was not particularly impressed with the music , as it tended too easily to become pleasant "background music" as my mind drifted away and I quickly lost interest in what was going on. But then I realized that the delicate, mellow melodies stuck with me long after I had stopped the player. So I went back to it and made an effort to keep focused throughout the 55+ minutes of " The Man Left In Space", and I ended up buying a copy of the album.

After a good number of spins on my CD player, my current opinion of the album is a more elaborate version of my first, visceral impression. The album is very nice, very competently played, rich in mellow melodies, and contains some great Floydian guitar moments. I am a fan of voice samplings in songs, so this is a bonus too. It surely makes for a pleasant listening experience, especially if you are a fan of Floyds, neo-prog outfits such as RPWL and Sylvan, or even the mellower, metal-less moments of prog-metal bands such as Ayreon. But this is not an album for all seasons. It is an album I would put on when I am in the mood for something reflective, not too demanding or challenging, that allows me to effortlessly drift in and out without losing too much. But it would not be my first choice if I was in the mood for a proper "prog-on" experience, if you know what I mean. I guess the crux of the matter lies in the eventual lack of depth and breadth of this nevertheless very enjoyable musical project. The very clean but at the same time very much "bedroom project" production also contributes to this impression.

Overall, I regard " The Man Left In Space" as a good (sometimes very good) easy-listening prog album, which surely deserves 3 stars.

 The Man Left In Space by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.89 | 239 ratings

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The Man Left In Space
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A nice sounding, well-produced album of songs in a PINK FLOYD-like vein of sounds and stylings--conceptually as well as in the extensive integration of samples/spoken threads in between and in the background. Sometimes the similarities are a bit TOO close to classic PF stuff, IMHO. The performances are rather good if often quite strikingly similar to Waters (voice), Gilmour (guitar leads), Wright (particularly organ) and even Mason (not in volume or clarity, though), and the production is pristine if somewhat lacking in the desirable but all-too-elusive weave of harmony and nuance. What is lacking for me is anything new and memorable: Repeated listens of the album and its songs in their individuality leave me underwhelmed, even absent from reaction; I am not drawn back to the music or album and when I hear the songs again I feel neither excitement or familiarity. Not that I feel as though I've wasted my time. It's a pleasant listen. No more, no less.

Another 3.5 star album that I have trouble rating. I'd rate it up for the recommendation for others to give it a listen and decide for themselves, but I'm not sure. It's better than a Richard Wright solo album, but, IMHO, that's not saying much.

Thanks to toroddfuglesteg for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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