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Geoff Proudley - Tales from Strange Travels CD (album) cover


Geoff Proudley


Crossover Prog

4.40 | 7 ratings

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5 stars The name rang a tubular bell in my memory banks, as this keyboardist was part of a British band called Coltsfoot, releasing a duo of albums in 1988 and 1995, I must admit I did not give it a decent listen, as it sat in my to do bin for a while. As the purchase button was pressed on this 2021 offering, I was looking forward to discovering something pleasing, as Prog Rogue likes to take occasional risks, eschewing the research department completely. Well, the senses are, though still working overtime, sharply honed as this blew me sideways into a heavenly ditch of musical delight. A one-man show, armed with a variety of synths, piano and programming, an all-instrumental affair of the heart, as the 12 tracks rip along with pace and atmosphere.

"Opening Moves" is a sizzling, head-on down the highway engine revving turbo charged electronic opener that has the gall and audacity to then, suddenly stop on the side of the sonic road and reduce the throttle down to the most gorgeous piano sequence anyone could hope for, a moment of uncanny genius. On the pulsating "Return to Skara Brae "(a rather stunning prehistoric village in the Orkneys with ruins from eight houses, circa 3000BC), the piano, synthesizers and drum programming merge into a time travel soundscape that seek to emulate the remnants of a time and place that almost predates history. The theme is both tortuous and complex, much like the cool environment it depicts. This segues nicely into the lavish "The Grand Entrance", a piano/synth feast of the finest order, with insistent rhythms, atop which the thunder and lightning synths usher in a harder sequence that verges on symphonic metal. This is extraordinarily thorough, energetic, and clever. The eloquence shown on "Brittle Star", albeit brief, is beauty incarnate, the emotional restraint that is delivered verges on the dramatic. This sets up the epic, 11-minute colossus "One Way In But No Way Out", stamping outright prog credentials, as Geoff constructs an aural edifice with painstaking diligence, the rhythmic jungle beat shoving along more power chords, choir strings, and adding the sudden arrival of a pocket of cosmic serenity that suggests a sense of voyage and journey into the unknown, slowly revving up into a careening cavalcade of sound and fury. This effusive track will enter my legendary list of all-time epic compositions, as the pace is awe-inspiring to the point of sonic hypnosis. I caught myself giggling nervously throughout as I was grooving to the delirious electronic vibrations, a clear sign of utter respect. The glorious theme played on the piano on "Until the Darkness Leaves You" rings completely familiar, flush with dramatic overtones, rivulets of hues and contrast, filigrees, and shadows, attesting that Geoff could (and does, according to his bio) contribute to amazing scores for video productions of all kinds, including cinema. Music for the mind, and medicine for the soul. The astute usage of mellotron-like strings and choir add enormous depth to the arrangements, as best showcased on the turbulent tempest intro that is "Open Hand (Danza Della Vita)", where the slithering viper organ makes its appearance, bruising and rampaging as it mates with a slick synthesizer motif that dances with a sultry outpouring of passion and atmosphere. In total opposition, "Do You Dream like This?" wanders in a sheath of volatile redolence, drops of tear-like electric piano notes echoing in apparent supplication, adorned with flashes of synthesizer streaks to keep the dream-like sequence alive. The title speaks for itself, "Fuse" is a lit firecracker that sends phosphorous strands into the heavens, an ideal soundtrack for a fireworks display, remindful of Italian electronic pioneers Sensations' Fix "Music is painting in the air", a title that was dedicated to none other than Robert Fripp, back in 1974. Gracefully explosive and highly cinematographic. The title track is bopping piece that delivers a simple, almost blues-like, and insistent piano pattern, on which the orchestrations bloom into startling domains, as if the earth collides with the heavens. Flickers of synthesized twirls adorn the onward delivery with gusto. 'Cuckoo to you' goodbye salute, so I guess I know what I like in my wardrobe. More fragrant e-piano excursions on the swirling tornado that is "There's Many a Slip, twixt Cup", a bold, heavy fusion, electro-jazz maelstrom that has all the raw ingredients to be a killer track on any set-list. Geoff has the imagination to weld together so many differing styles, all well within his rather tight prog parameters. "Overclocking" perhaps offers a wink to the previous cuckoo, but it is a fitting finale of untamed synth Immelmann loops, swirly-twirly, topsy-turvy snarls of electronic figurines, Swiss time running wild, a suitably fizzy cocktail of genius.

One of my all-time favourite electronic one-man show albums is Geoff Downes' New Dance Orchestra -The Light Program released back in 1987. This may be the perfect companion as it is an astonishing affair from those "Opening Moves" and all the way up to "Overclocking". Sixty One punchy minutes of stimulating bliss.

5 Uncommon Trip Narratives

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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