By Eduard Antoniu
Dave Cureton and Adam Gough have known each other for a long time and started writing songs together early. They planned for their debut album about five years ago. They may have accumulated enough material, for it turns out to be a double album debut. This may be a risky undertaking. In their case, however, this may be simplified by the fact that, the first CD is 66 and a half minutes long, whereas the second one is just a 27 and a half minutes long EP. Or, on the contrary, it may get complicated precisely because of this. The material is divided among three movements: “Water”, “Earth”, “Air”. But an old lyric says “Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, world on the scales”. So where is “Fire” here? Could this be the promised follow up? If yes, then what will it take? An EP, a CD, or a double album again? This album could have been a very good debut on a single, fully filled, 75-78 minute CD. So what do we have here in the end? An unfinished masterpiece? Or the making of the debut CD, including some possible leftovers?
One would question the need of two “Interludes” (in “Water” and in “Air”); or the need to reprise an “Introduction” (to “Water”) in the middle of “Earth”; or the need of an “Opus II” (in “Water”) before a “Symphony #1” (in “Earth”); questionable, the need to reprise “Come With Me” (from “Water”) in “Air”. All these tell of much material that could have been properly organized or, least.
They would have hoped their album released before Christmas ’08. However, it turned out to be one of the earliest releases of this year. One of the strong points of this release is the varied music. Not always necessarily prog, it contains something for several music tastes. It navigates from soft (“Introduction”, “Intro: Reprise”), through pop (“Come With Me”, “Home”, “Sun Is Going Down”, “Take Me”) and orchestral (“Smoky Wood”, “Opus II”, “Mountains Start to Fall”, “Outro”), to ambient experimental (“Interlude 1”), prog (“Storyteller”, “EEEE”, “Loops”, “Light and Shade”, “The Creation”, “Harmonix”), and symphonic (“Symphony #1”), which is the best track overall). There’s also some leaning towards “world music” (“EEEE”, “The Creation”, “Interlude #2”) and Gregorian chant (“Sun Is Going Down”, “Harmonix”). Surprisingly, falsetto vocals are used as well (“EEEE”).
Other than that, there are three great vocalists here: Steve Balsamo of Andrew Lloyd Weber fame (“Come With Me”, “Interlude #2”, “Take Me”), Louise Braggins (“Introduction”, “Smoky Wood”, “Opus II”) and Claire Malin (“Mountains Start to Fall”, “Home”, “Harmonix”, “Come With Me (Reprise)”). Great contributions are also made by Steve Trigg (trumpet on “EEEE” and “The Creation”, fluegel horn on “Smoky Wood” and “Loops”) and Jason Reynolds (saxophone on “EEEE”). Christian Nokes’s bass playing is outstanding (“Loops”, “The Creation”), as is the drumming of Dave’s brother Richard Cureton (“Loops”, “Light and Shade”, “Harmonix” to name but a few), who also had some input into the album. The guitar work shines through various styles and approaches throughout the entire release. The hits are “Home” and “Take Me”. And the best parts of the album are “Storyteller” and especially “Loops” through “Light and Shade”. I would have added “The Creation” too, had a theme in it not reminded me of an electronic masterpiece of thirty plus years ago. Similarly for “Harmonix”, with respect to a member of the James Last Orchestra.
Remarkable is also that, there seems to be a plot that sustains the structure of the album. Two lovers swim in a free world (“Water”) until one of them is attracted by the promise of a brave new one (“Earth”). The other first begs her not to leave, then he too follows, lured. They find themselves captive in this world. Their daily lives become a nightmare in the new world. Their escape attempt is fatal (“Air”) but at least their spirits fly free together again. So then again, where is “Fire” here and will there be a follow up? Also, it sounds like the best music on this album is precisely in that corrupted world called “Earth”, not in “Water” or “Air”.
This album will be enjoyed by those who like “Adiemus” type of works on one hand, and also by those into symphonic prog rock, on the other hand. Good for the listeners that belong to both categories.
By Eduard Antoniu