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Seconds Before Landing - Cosmonaut CD (album) cover


Seconds Before Landing


Crossover Prog

3.13 | 5 ratings

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3 stars 'Seconds Before Landing' was created in 2011 by John Crispino to create a concept series of albums. Three albums cover this original concept. In January of 2020, a new album called 'Cosmonaut' was released as a tribute to two of the first Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov. The stories of the cosmonauts are outlined on the Bandcamp page, so there is no need to recount them now.

The album line-up consists of Crispino on vocals, drums, synths and effects. Joining him is J.D. Garrison and Guy Bar Tor both on bass, Eric Maldonado and Steve Schuffert both on lead guitar, Rick Witkowski on rhythm and acoustic guitars, Jamie Peck on piano, sax and clarinet, and Vanessa Campagna on vocals.

The music is made up of several tracks that range from under a minute to close to 6 minutes, with one track exceeding 8 minutes. The music is quite easy to listen to, soft and mellow for the most part with a nice balance of keys and wind instruments, though the guitars are not very upfront for the most part. There are some nice, textural solos like the clarinet solo in 'My Best Friend' that almost sounds like an instrumental section from a Supertramp album, and there is a decent march-like rhythm with an enjoyable guitar solo in the last half of 'March In to Klushino'. As the album goes on, there are other decent solos like the sax in 'Waterfall' and the jazz inflection that backs the piano and guitar on 'Close to Heaven, but these solos, which are sometimes too short, are the best thing about the album. The music is pleasant enough, but seems to lack the dynamics needed to keep the attention of the listener, and it all comes across as being overly pristine. Unfortunately, the mellowness of the music tends to wash out the impact the music is supposed to have on you.

Crispino does his best to add some inflections and such to his vocals to make the story more character-like, but his vocals are not always the best and are maybe a bit weak most of the time. Adding effects here and there don't do anything to strengthen the vocals or the overall mellow instrumentation. By the time you get to the 10th track 'It's Time Now', you are screaming for some kind of emotional response to the music, but it just stays mellow, floating and meandering along at an even keel, that starts to make it all sound monotonous, even in the sections that were meant to convey more emotional flair to the music. That flair is pretty much just missing from the album. The longer track, 'Cosmonaut' is an 8+ minute instrumental that is apparently separated into 7 subsections. So much of the story is supposed to be told instrumentally here, but the music pretty much stays even keel all the way through. 'Oh How I Miss You' is a sentimental track sung by Vanessa Campagna, who is a much better vocalist with soft and sensitive tones and a lovely track backed with violin (probably an effect) and piano, very pensive and nice, probably the most emotional part of the album.

The album is nice if you want just soft background music, but that is not supposed to be its intention. There just isn't enough emotion or dynamic to carry the concept forward effectively. By the end, it ends up being pretty average with very little dynamic. Except for some occasional solos, there really isn't much to grab your attention, and the progressive level is quite low. The music is too pristine and lackluster to really generate any emotion for the listener.

TCat | 3/5 |


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