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(55:01; Band of Rain)
I first came across Band Of Rain back in 2006 when I reviewed the first two albums. At that time, it was mostly Chris Gill, and over the years there have been quite a few changes in line-up, but it has always been Chris’s steadying hand at the rudder. This is their seventh album, and although I have reviewed five of the albums I somehow missed 2019’s ‘Svengali’, at which point the band was a duo of Chris and Micha Steinbacher, who had also been on the previous album ‘The Dust of Stars’. Just a year later that has changed with Band of Rain becoming a full band and not only is it now a proper band which can get out and gig, or at least that was the plan before a certain pandemic got in the way, but there are a few well-known names who are now involved. The first of these is none other than Jon Camp (Renaissance) on bass, while the keyboard player is Robert Webb (England). Chris only provides guitars on the album, a major reduction in his normal contribution, and the line-up is completed by Matthew Corry (vocals) and Rick Hambleton (drums). To my mind the band has already had two significant periods in their existence, the first being when they released their first four albums between 2004 and 2011, and the second being the next two albums which were Gill, Steinbacher and Ria Parfitt (who provided vocals on ‘The Dust of Stars’), and here they are taking it to quite a different level. Musically there have also been quite a few changes, as this is now a band with a permanent singer and there are far fewer instrumentals whereas it used to be often the other way round, and they are now far removed from the space rock which could be found throughout their earlier works. It is a band album, no longer a solo work, with Gill sharing credits on every song, which now often revolved around the intricate (and often fretless) bass playing of Camp. It is far more psychedelic, and Chris has easily relaxed into the new role he has created within the band, sitting back to let Jon take the centre stage when the need is right, or providing some deft solos. The music often creates soundscapes, fitting in well with the images on the front and rear of the CD, and the whispering at the end of the instrumental “Merlin” (provided by Parfitt) is particularly effective. As an album one is never quite sure where one is going to be taken on the journey as there are quite a few different styles at play, and there are times when it joins together seamlessly but others when there appears to be something of a disconnect in that while everyone is playing the same song it doesn’t really gel as it should. The band are already working on the next album, provisionally titled ‘Dawn Chorus’, with the aim to be playing both in concert next year. Realistically this is a brand new band operating under an old name, and once they have been playing together more and developing their sound it is going to be intriguing to hear what they sound like, as the last time I heard a bass this far to the front was with Mr So & So, yet musically these is a very different outfit altogether.
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