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Band of Rain - 2017 - "The Dust of Stars"

(65:06; HollowHill Music)


TRACK LIST: 1. Gurdjieff 9:01 2. Toys 6:31 3. The Dust of Stars 6:29 4. Across a Starlit Night 7:22 5. Ancient Electric 8:43 6. Indian Summer 5:17 7. Dark Sun 5:43 8. Bob 5:44 9. Lydian Flight 10:16 LINE UP : Chris Gill - various instruments Micha Steinbacher - vocals, various instruments with: Ria Parfitt - vocals Gordo Bennett - guitars

Prolusion. UK venture Band of Rain is the creative vehicle of veteran composer and musician Chris Gill, with the core idea for this project being established sometime in the 1990's and the first album released in 2004. Since then new albums by Band of Rain have been forthcoming every few years, with a total of eight studio productions commercially available at the time of writing. "The Dust of Stars" is the fifth of those, and dates back to 2017.

Analysis. Band of Rain is among those who explore the progressive rock universe through journeys of the internal and the external space. Psychedelic rock and space rock are the landscapes explored here, in a more introverted as well as in a more extroverted manner. A recurring element throughout is the use of careful and at times borderline ambient sections with flowing and floating textures and various degrees of sound effects as the main components. On some occasions as drifting textures and drones, at other times with a more pointed direction driving these landscapes, a bit of a jazz undercurrent perhaps or a more liberal array of exotic sounding tones and timbres or different rhythm effects. Following or alternating with these gentler landscapes Band of Rain may head out in several different directions. Setting up powerful, riff based landscapes with some kind of instrument solo overlay or harmony overlay is a specialty for these folks as well as most space rock bands out there, crafting powerful and explosive journeys out into the outer galaxies. More careful sections with laid back instrumentation and an invite to journeys of the mind is a field Band of Rain traverse with the same relative ease here, albeit perhaps not always as striking and compelling. On some occasions the song will stay within a framework of floating and flowing sounds without seeking out new pastures too of course, like on the dark toned, haunting and ominous landscapes explored on 'Bob'. A good example of a flowing creation with delicate sounds that can produce quite the foreboding atmosphere. Where I find Band of Rain to really excel is when they opt to head in slightly different directions however. When the tones, timbres and scales of Eastern and Asian music are explored in different ways, when rhythms with a more ancient feel to them are applied and a word like tribal feels natural to pull out from the associations department. On an album that by and large comes across as a very solid production, the most intriguing creations for me on this occasion is whenever the band heads in this more mystic sounding direction.

Conclusion. Band of Rain as of 2017 comes across as an accomplished space rock band at the core, and a band with the creative impulses to not be restrained by that specific tradition as a singular feature. The inclusion of ambient and progressive electronic details and the occasional jazz-sounding details are welcome, and the venture into realms that for me comes across as more fantasy than science fiction related in mood and atmosphere even more so. This is a production that merits a check by fans of well made space rock and psychedelic progressive rock.

Progmessor: February 2023
The Rating Room

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