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UFO - Sharks
SPV 2002

Read the interview

The flying object gets predatory beautiful to defy those trying to write the band off.

Where's that wishing well that UFO spring from? Slide guitar shuffle sets the time machine back to the '70s, to the group's finest hour, but there's much more swagger in Phil Mogg's vocals now when, in "Outlaw Man" and "Someone's Gotta Have To Pay" mighty boogie, he throws himself in the reminiscences of how it all began, namechecking Sonny Boy Williamson, The Fabs, Elvis and other heroes who got that spaceship flying so high.

It's been a long time since they last delivered such a perfect balance of pain and romanticism as in "Serenity" but that's a groovy ride, Pete Way's bass and Aynsley Dunbar's cymbals dragging "Quicksilver Rider" on old cosmic trails, and even Michael Schenker seems happy to funk "Sea Of Faith" up and cool it down with an exquisite acoustic solo.

Lyrically, "Dead Man Walking" is as far from depicting the ensemble's attitude as can be, while musically this typical UFO rocker just sums it up. Equally, thunderous "Fighting Man" could have easily belonged to the past yet it's as viable today. They're still have the force, these geezers, their teeth are still as sharp.

*****
MOSTLY AUTUMN -
Heroes Never Die
Classic Rock 2002

Bringing the yearlings home, the cream of the crop gets cut anew to open the gates into the Autumnal temple.

That's where the genuine Englishness reigns this day! These young purveyors of brilliance bring the best of days of yore into the new age, taking all the classic rock elements to create something unique without thinking too much of what genre it's in. Still, the urge of being perfect has the band re-doing the enviable volume of work recorded in a short period of time and making new versions an introduction to the band. That's immaculate, the stunning melodies wrapping around the soul and an instrumentation to match them. But it's the emotions the strength of the songs, be it "The Spirit Of Autumn Past" so irreristible in its simplicity, or stormy "Never The Rainbow", a perfect mixture of folk, prog and hard rock, with Heather Finlay's voice and Bryan Josh's guitar easily shifting from subtlety to attack.

It's a rare craft to weave a surprise in every tune - "Noise From My Head" develops into a dramatic chorus, "Shrinking Violet" takes in HARUM organ and "Swan Lake", and if "Evergreen" bears Ritchie Blackmore's imprint (there's another Blackmore, drummer Jonathan, whose approach is as important for the beauty of the music), it goes to show that heroes never die. Moreover, in MOSTLY AUTUMN we see new heroes being born.

*****
AMIR PERRY -
No Wonder Its Dark
The Third Ear 2002

No matter how dark it is, that's not too serious, though there are some wonders.

Unlike its predecessor, "Soft Ride", Perry's second work is a full-blown electronica rock album whatever it means. If psychedelia gets deep into "Wishful Thinking For The Covers", "Hospitals" looks at psyche from an ambient soudscape with a groove of its own, and "Stop!" rocks on. And here's a wonder - the sound may be as serious as it gets in "The Pain" but the music's full of humor and wit. With all the variety on offer - "Camel Meat" is Middle Eastern-flavored, while "Yes I Watch You", exploring the stereo effect, comes close to classic prog - there's a feel of sublime homogeniety. No wonder, then, it's dark - because it's thick!

****
ANGRA -
Hunters And Prey
SPV 2002

Southern hemisphere melodic metal finest return home - tired but happy.

Having conquered the world, the band are back to Brazil full of nostalgic emotions that bore forth this mini-album. Not only native polyrhythmics gloriusly find their way into the title track's chiming guitars - a great prospect of the things to come - but there's also a Portugese version of it. With future looking bright, ANGRA let themselves a glance over the shoulder to revisit, acoustically, the faves, arresting "Rebirth", the video of which makes a centerpiece of multimedia presentation that's on the CD as well, and "Heroes And Sand". If heady but smooth "Live And Learn" serves as a kind of "thank you" to the supporters, the other side of going back pours out of "Mama", arguably the best GENESIS cover ever notched, with original tropic beat ringing another bell. Now, they can relax for a while.

****
URIAH HEEP -
The Magician's Birthday Party
Classic Rock 2002

See also the DVD

In the magic garden some were singing... Well, the tales of these magicians are aplenty.

You can't keep a good band down, warned HEEP back in 1976. Never prone to be living in the past, they nevertheless are proud of what's been done before, and the secret of the veterans' vitality lies in that easy swing "from classic to neo-classic", as the singer Bernie Shaw puts it. Hard to think of anyone else to dare playing a bonus track, but is "Sweet Pretender" off the last album any worse than equally fresh progressive blues "I'll Keep On Trying" from the first one? No difference, really. Why awkwardly re-inventing anything if there's always a possibility to surprise and still be themselves doing regular concerts and - once a year - special events, like The Magician's Birthday Party. Having started in 2000 with an acclaimed "Acoustically Driven" performance, it saw HEEP dusting off songs never played previously, so they bring a couple of those for the second time around, and explore the obscure corners further on.

If the last year's guest was Ian Anderson, now it's FOCUS' Thijs Van Leer flute and yodeling heard in "Tales", dramatic enveloped in female voices. That still is a little part of the plan. The main attraction steams not from old gems being unearthed but from old friends joining in the fun. When it comes to "July Morning" boasting Trevor Bolder's stunning bass line, Phil Lanzon retreats to his grand piano for Ken Hensley to push the Hammond and then remain on stage until the very end - for the first time since 1980! Ken switches to slide guitar for "Free "N' Easy" and "Sympathy" when John Lawton comes up to share "The Magician's Birthday", revived in its enirety, with Mick Box's frenetic guitar piece. And if there's no drum solo, Lee Kerslake more than compensates for it by singing bravely in "Circle Of Hands" and "Paradise / The Spell" and adding to overall sense of fun. A sense of a party HEEP's "orchid orchestra" is a perfect soundtrack to.

*****
VARIOUS ARTISTS -
The Alchemists
Liquid Note 2002

Read the interview

You can't deny virtuosity, states the debut release from the fledging guitar label and convincingly proves it.

Playing a zillion notes per second has become a common place today, but here's an answer to those who say guitar music lost its soul to speed. There's technique and there's virtuosity, and this new label embraces latter without denying the former. Two CDs which are "The Alchemists" serve as an introduction to those who master their instruments and don't stick to a certain style or genre, that's why one disc opens with Mario Parga's "Valse Diabolique", a real wondeful waltz, and the second with Richard Daude's "Dark Ages" comprising the elements of baroque, metal and Latin music. How could this guitarist be overlooked until now is a mystery, yet did anyone pay much of attention to, say, Guthrie Gowan, so bright on ASIA's "Aura" and featured here by jazzy "Fives" rolling in an impressive fretless bass solo? Ditto to David Kilminster - his CV includes colaboration with John Wetton and Ken Hensley. The stars on the rise.

The variety is amazing with influences running from Steve Howe (Stephen Ross' exquisite "Schrodinger's Cat") to Steve Hackett (Lyle Workman's melancholic "Rising Of The Mourning Sun") yet even heavy players go adventurous way: Joy Basu's and Mark Pattison's pieces incorporate techno textures while Stephan Forte's "The Prophesies Of Loki" features a gentle piano. And if some contributions may feel self-indulgent, there are always polyrhythmic tribal dance of Phi Yaan-Zek's "Out In The Boonies", folky "Common Ground" by Scott Hughes and calm of Stefan Rosqvist "Neverland" to save the day.

****3/4
MAJESTY -
Sword & Sorcery
Massacre Records 2002

You can judge this one by its cover - yes, another muscular heroes grind it down.

Look at the cover and titles like "Metal To The Metalheads" and "Heavy Metal": even without Ross The Boss on the later you know it's a MANOWAR reality. It takes guts, to live there, so though the song which gave the album a name has all the heroic metal best about it, the cracks begin to show - having forged strong live reputation appears not enough to make a consistent album. Tarek Maghary is in posession of an iron voice but he'd better leave it to somebody else to produce the German band's debut. Each song is over-stretched to bore in the end despite its quality craft, "Aria Of Bravery" could fare better less than at nine minutes; equally, "Epic War" loses its plot almost from the start, melody vaporing in the rush of adrenalin. A pity, really, as the tunes and Udo Keppner's solos are all good. Hell, if it's the first outing, then MANOWAR should get ready to retire!

***1/2
DELTA BLUE -
Soul Sketches
Nesta Records 2000

Stuck outside the mobile with this urban blues again - Tom Waits got answered, rootsy way.

Ayo Bamidele, the man behind the DELTA BLUE moniker, may be a Londoneer but his African heritage shows, and it is the crux of the matter, of the where and the why this music feels so full of grace. So full of soul opened to the gloom of the city and light of hope in equal measures as fashioned by Tom Waits, but the measure Ayo offers is "The Golden Rule". His voice is soft as butter here and trembling in "Butterfly" the uplifting chorus of which chases away the loneliness. The kind of that you have when going home in the morning, a feeling captured beautifully by skittish piano of "Best Time Of My Life" and air breathing in between Bamidele's guitar strum and Holger Gafert's adventurously jazzy bass in "Love Is The Wine" and "As Years Go By". So it's not the blues pouring out of "'Cold Love" or "You Make Me Feel Good", it's blue the color of these sketches. The color of melancholia and life itself.

*****
POLLYANNA FRANK -
Nadir
The Third Ear 2002

Don't think astronomy: in Hebrew, "nadir" means "rare"; that's what it is - not the worst songs yet rarities.

It's a sign of popularity - who needs odds-and-ends from unknown artist? When asked by radio presenter to unearth something unique, singer Sharon Ben-Ezer delved into the closets of her own and her former bandmates scattered around four countries now. What had surfaced appeared to be not skeletons but out-takes, live cuts and covers able to exist independently from the combo's catalogue. Pared down to thirteen audio and three video tracks, they make "Nadir".

The album starts with almost chamber numbers with Sharon's Patti Smith persona peeping out of "Alarm Song" to take the band to nervous extremes from Bolan-like fragility of "Gaaguim Le-Dagim" ("Longing For Pisces") to acoustic punk of "Alophen Baby" and eventually Randy Newman's sublime "I Think It Is Going To Rain Today". Spanning 1988-1997 period, music reflects different stages of the ensemble: here, they perform "Gibor Tzava Ha-Hagana" ("Army Of Defense Hero") twice the same evening in protest of it's ban from radio, there, frolicking with cabaret-shaped "Son Of God" by THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS. If you need a dose of anxiety, get ready to low down.

***1/3
HUGHES-TURNER PROJECT -
HTP
MTM Music 2002

Some soul food from the soul brothers - a bloody PURPLE thing.

Ten years went since Joe Lynn Turner and Glenn Hughes first joined their forces for a collaboration that didn't bear fruits back then. In 2001 the idea of two working together popped up again when Joe asked Glenn to go on Japanese tour with him. It's the fans' reaction that ushered them into the recording studio, so what they came up with is mainly for the fans. This time a surprise factor wasn't on the agenda, veteran singers deciding to stick to the lore of DEEP PURPLE, both graduated from. With organist Vince Di Cola, guitarist J J Marsh and drummer Shane Gaalaas, they fire it off.

At first glance, the album seems a collection of cliches but gradually it builds up to take a life of its own, singers sharing vocals on all the songs bar two ballads. Love songs are individual, so Joe keeps gentle "Mystery Of The Heart" to himself, while Glenn, in John Sykes' company, goes celestial for "Heaven's Missing An Angel". Other than that, the combination works great, be it romantic "Fade Away" or rocking gem "Missed Your Name" which melts the styles into a whole. "We want the world to know / We're right where we belong / No matter where we go / Together standing strong," they state in "You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll", and Pat Gilbert shreds it up to prove. It's as ironic as opener, "Devil's Road" - another take on "Death Alley Driver", it has a bit different slant now, when Hughes adds his jive to Turner doing his thing. Love for soul is common between the two, and if Ritchie Blackmore turned down their invitation to play here it's for good, as the friends are free to groove unashamedly in "Sister Midnight", funked up with Hughes' prominent bass.

Some numbers - "Run Run Run", "Better Man" and "Ride The Storm" with Joe's sidekick Akira Kajiyama soloing - gel less impressive, showing the melodic gaps of two composers' manners, yet the experiment proved itself successful: monumental "On The Ledge" aims a bridge to the next chapter. Why not, as long as it's about soul fraternity?

****4/5
SINISTER STREET -
Trust
Musea 2002

What can be sinister about refined progressive rock from the street where it thrives?

An eye on the cover with a little devil in it hardly is a reflection of the Dutch sextet's music. Richly textured with two keyboards, guitar and bass that intertwine into a thick cloth, it's largely devoid of real risk and genuine experimentation which make art rock so alluring a form. The guilt is on Olaf Blaauw's vocals holding a little of feelings, the rocking "Go The Distance" an exception, and all the value of strong instrumental passages of the title track gets lost elsewhere in abstract atmosphere born of classic GENESIS schemes, clear in 'Lost For Words" time signatures and "Two In One" acoustic fragility. Cleverness doesn't make for an emotionless approach, so it's not always interesting though invariably comfortable.

***1/2
CRYSTAL BALL -
Virtual Empire
Nuclear Blast 2002

Haunting, hummable melodies garbed in silvered armour of Swiss space squad.

Taken into the new century, '80s hair metal doesn't always seem dated. It's an art of being unpretentious and treat the music as a pretty game - that's what singer Mark Sweeney and the team to: have a ball. There's an easy feel about this collection with "Savage Mind" setting a tone for a groovy, compressed sound and big, catchy choruses that urge a listener to join in. Kudos to Scott Leach and Tom Graber for keeping their guitars modestly bridled to not overblow the atmosphere but punctuate the mood, which sometimes can get corny, as in "Night And Day", but invariably comfortable. Especially in organ-geared rock 'n' rolls of "Dance With The Devil" and "When The Night Is Over", and RAINBOW-derived "Private Visitor". So perhaps not that imperial it all may be yet the band's virtue is undebatable.

****
ROBERT PLANT -
Dreamland
Mercury 2002

With no led shadow over his head, Percy dreams of his hippie past - sedate and seductive.

Now it's less manic and more nirvana to Robert Plant's music, and what a long path it has been for the singer! After many years, Plant's brewing his own brand of blues, not Jimmy Page's one as before. The idiosyncrasy's almost vapoured, so here's a concept looming large, the first single being old mesmerising staple "Morning Dew" that Rob used to sing long before he joined one guitarist's quest. Nine years passed since Percy's last solo effort, the time lapse saw him going backward - at first, with Pagey, then trying to fit himself into a band situation with PRIORY OF BRION and STRANGE SENSATION. Tracing his roots certainly helped Plant to find a new attitude, although there was a precursor to this album on 1993's "Fate Of Nations", Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter". A significance of the only cover done under Robert's name shouldn't have been lost, and "Dreamland" is a proof.

This time a special one is Tim Buckley's "Song To The Siren" adorned with strings and B. J. Cole's steel guitar. Plant does sound like that eerie siren, calm and calling in voice ever strong. Dreamy and narcotic, the music crawls in but the nerve is still bare for psychedelically wired "Hey Joe" to keep the singer on the verge of desperation and render Dylan's obscure gem "One Cup Of Coffee" a testament. Nothing's accidental this time, while "One cup of coffee 'fore I go to the valley below" line leads straight to "Battle Of Evermore", re-shuffled version of Bukka White's "Funny In My Mind" ascends to Zen. It's not an anger, just a groove of rolling thunder taking a rocky road with originals, "Last Time I Saw Her", "Dirt In A Hole" and slide-awashed "Red Dress", the hardest you can get to here.

Elsewhere, the path veers off the obvious. Whatever folksy, Percy's blues appears pure, his bitter-sweet "Win My Train Fare Home" not only incorporating bits from John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson yet also "That's All Right (Mama)" he did during ZEP's medleys. Now, slowed down to the total estrangement it puts forth repetitive death motif with Arabian "yallah", "come on", and "save me" plea of "Skip's Song" ("threshing Oar"?). YOUNGBLOODS' "Darkness Darkness" puts a shroud on the dream. Painful but beautiful.

*****
PANGAEA -
The Rite Of Passage
Pangea 1996

A promising debut from the Lone Star State proggers, a breed rare yet strong. Robert Berry produces - a sign.

Progressive rock from Texas? It's rather statement than joke but there's no bravado in what PANGAEA do. Tight and hot, South-way, their music is, "Time Syndrome" bouncing off the spacious aural landscape into the roll of uplifting harmonies led by Darrell Masingale, and there's a fantastic rhythmical connection between adventurous keyboards and drums - played by Schenck brothers, Corey and Andi, the main composers. Perhaps all those ties are what makes "The Rite" so solid for the first album, so deep and moody, Although an obligatory epic, three-part "The Traveler", is present, obvious influences are none, save for an odd Gabrielism in vocals department and Bach in fugue of "A Gift", not a crime by no means. Clever and pleasant, such a balance becomes less and less often nowadays, especially when a band dare to seem as playful as worried in "The Winds" and pacifying with "Beggar's Hand". Emotions flow resolving the rebus of the title: the rite of passage is about compassion.

****
DORO - Fight
SPV 2002

Metal Amazon gets back into fray with good intentions but times they are a-changin' for keeping it all so good.

Maybe, that's a very feminist thing to run along with the boys, but from a lady of Doro's stature one expects some make-up to be applied. Natural rawness is the sound of her new work, with bare riffs just scantily dressed in melodies. Pathos of "Hoffming" and "Legends Never Die" doesn't help trying to squeeze a glam ring into rigid rush. Some fifteen years earlier, "Sister Darkness" could score, not now, though "Descent", a contrast duet with TYPE O'NEGATIVE's Peter Steele, holds some appeal. The simplier the better, that's why "Salvaje" with its Spanish chorus wins in under three minutes and "Undying" rises monumental until tremulous romance gets ruined with attack. As years roll by, being female warrior gets harder while the woman feelings come frontal: the title track dedicated to German boxer Regina Halmich naturally loses its battle to "Fight By Your Side", a hymn to faithfulness, - for good.

***2/3
FAIRPORT CONVENTION -
Before The Moon
N-M-C Music 2002

Stunning live document of folk legends flying high with Sandy Denny ruling the den.

For years, there wasn't a definitive concert album from the FAIRPORTS featuring their flamboyant songstress Sandy. "Live Convention", recorded in January 1974, hardly represented what the band were up to at that moment when Denny had just got back into the fold and nobody was sure she'd stay any long. Four months later, when they hit the Ebbets Field's stage, not only her position was firm but also new material had been fruitfully happening. There are two sets on "Before The Moon", the first kicking off with "Rising For The Moon", still to become a title song of the next album which took them another year to come up with. Not an easy year and not an easy record, so the more unique feels playful atmosphere of these shows, nicely defined by "One More Chance" that ended up on the next longplay as well.

Whatever happy the band were then and there, the leading duet of two Daves, Pegg and Swarbrick, had to not ignore their vocalist's profile and let Sandy's songs be performed too. Even though Pegg and his another namesake, drummer Mattacks, played only on "Solo" studio original, here are Denny's finest: "Like An Old-Fashioned Waltz", "John The Gun" plus a couple of Dylan tunes, all making their non-studio debut. As if to balance those, FAIRPORTS go for tunes from "Full House", the album released before Denny and her guitarist husband Trevor Lucas re-joined, to move the spotlight from vocals to instrumental magic, 13-minute "Sloth" sounding eerie with its baroque bass and fiddle solos and "Dirty Linen" frantically joyful.

There's a flawless performance and a genuine integrity on display, yet best moments of "Before The Moon" come with the albums the band and Sandy done together being revisited, for nothing can be compared to bare emotions of "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" and the "Matty Groves" vigor intensified by Jerry Donahue's electric solo. So for now, it's a definitive release - unless a live recording that has both Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson on it surface. But what does a picture of Richard and wife Linda do herein?

*****
JOHN LAWTON &
STEVE DUNNING -
Steppin' It Up
Classic Rock Productions 2002
Read the interview

An acoustic set played as a workshop for URIAH HEEP fans only has grown into a wonderful collection of mellow lightning strokes.

In December 2001 the JOHN LAWTON BAND bass man Steve Dunning and John himself took part in The Magician's Birthday Party and it's the reaction to their short gig that prompted the two to commit what's been played - and more - to tape. Save for two songs commissioned especially for the project, the bulk of it serves as a Lawton's career overview, a long overdue one, Hardly a coincidence, "Steppin' It Up" kicks off with "Still Payin' My Dues..." shuffle, a perfect tone-setter which highlights John's talent as a blues singer with his relaxed yet tasty delivery and HEEP's Phil Lanzon's boogie piano. The title can be taken for granted, there are dues the singer feels bound to pay: until recently, his versions of "Feelings" and "Been Hurt" remained in the vaults, so here's a chance to give them a new lease of life without major rearranging. What can't be said of magnificient "Firefly / Come Back To Me" pairing tremulously sliding on Steve Simmons' sax silver thread that runs the masterpiece through.

Easily mastering his own classy ballads like "Tonight", John's still not averse to Ken Hensley's songwriting and has a brilliant go at "Rain" he never tackled while in HEEP, and Dunning supplies it with exquisite guitar solo. Yet the most deliciously gentle treatment receive "Wise Man" and LUCIFER'S FRIEND's "Burning Ships" stripped to the bare nerve which gets wired-up with sax-oiled anger of "I'm Alive". Now, this golden voice is able to embrace a lot of feelings, the depth revealing itself gradually, more so in new songs, Lawton's folksy vibrant "Don't Kill The Fire" and Dunning's painful "Shoulder To Cry On", that sit in nicely among the classics. Wrapping it all up, "One More Night" runs the full circle both musically, to the boogie jive, and thematically: not last farewell by any means, that's a decent post scriptum.

*****
PAUL McCARTNEY -
Driving Rain
Parlophone / MPL 2001

Full of bittersweet memories and new passion, Sir Paul rocks on - with an odd glance over his shoulder.

The major surprise about this album is that McCartney can still be surprising but he is here, on the most personal album of career long and glorious. Personal for obvious reasons, being the first set of originals since Linda's demise and Heather's arrival in Paul's life. Both ladies left their imprint here, yet instead of maudlin balladering one could expect from the expert of this art, Macca goes into open revealing himself in the songs rather than hiding as he used to. Standards collection "Run Devil Run" seems to have re-charged his batteries, and the opening sounds of "Lonely Road" come from good old Hofner bass. A paean to the late Mrs McCartney, as is "Magic" which relates to the night Paul met Linda, it builds from a mid-tempo song into an off-kilter rocker in the best WINGS tradition. At last, there are genuine feelings put forth, and even "From A Lover To A Friend" eschews tear-inducing in favour of silky soul tones. Melancholy peeps out of the title track and "About You" giving them an hysterical edge.

More brisk is almost fully instrumental "Heather": not the 1968's ditty of the same name it somehow takes the artist on experimentative journey leading to the Indian drones of "Riding Into Jaipur" and "She's Given Up Talking" that sees Paul back on drums. The knack for a great melody is still here, to marry acoustic guitar with orchestral samples on "I Do", although this "well well oh yeah" commencing "Tiny Bubble" conjures up Lennon's ghost. Paul revels in this ghostland but "Freedom", added at the very last minute in the wake of September 11th tragedy, tunes into a proclamatory mode which Paul never fashioned alright, and indeed, released as a single only, this could have served better from both financial and contextual standpoints. Here, it - and flat funk of "Spinning On An Axis", co-written with son James, - adds nothing to the overall mood summed up in "Back In The Sunshine Again". From the rain into the sunshine and back with 10-minute rave-on "Rinse The Raindrops" - sounds cathartic.

****4/5
WARMEN -
Beyond Abilities
Spinefarm 2002

CHILDREN OF BODOM ivory tinkler has a second shot at solo project, with heavy guests onboard.

This time it's better than on 2001's "Unknown Soldier", taking not iron yet ironic course from the opening words, "Young man trying to impress beyond his abilities... too many notes." Yes, many but it's OK with abilities of the Warman brothers, keyboardist Janne and guitarist Anti, interweaving their swift melodic lines in the title track. The only problem is Sami Virtanen's guitars, good on solos and too primitive when riffing - that's what makes "Trip To..." flat, clearly in need of a little bit of fantasy. More progressive than heavy as a whole, the album comes spiced up with good voices; in "Spark" Wakeman-esque organ providing a safety net for STRATOVARIUS' Timo Kotipelto flying high, while Kimberly Goss of SINERGY lives every quark of feeling covering HEART's "Alone". Here, Janne switches to piano and then to grand for wonderful solo piece "Confessions". Beyond or not, what matters is the artist's formidable growth.

***1/3
GERARD -
Sighs Of The Water
Musea 2002

Through the liquid looking glass fortress - and what the Japanese trio find there.

GERARD are of those rare breed that care more about their music than profile. Leading his band for almost two decades, keyboard player Toshio Egawa can't go wrong this day thanks to his experience and virtuoso playing which easily put him in the Wakeman category. He is gentle and pathetic in "Keep A Memory Green" and angry in "From The Deeper", the former featuring Jean Nakaji's shiny voice and the latter sung by Masuhiro Goto whose sharp drumming bounces off Atshushi Hasegawa's elastic bass for outworldly magnetism of "Pain In The Bubble". The quality is no surprise then but the intensity is, the tittle track raging and raving around melody ever adventurous. It's classic, not neo prog, although Egawa doesn't use old machinery. Sticking strictly to KORG synths, though, he shows no limit with dispatching to a listener his idiosyncrasy tightly packed into "Cry For The Moon" and then picking up the elusive water theme for two-part epic "Aqua Dream". Here, awashed orchestral-way, the title reveals itself: it's your memories reflected in a moving mirror that bear sighs.

****1/3
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