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(55:00, Door 13 Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Orange Sky 8:19 2. Trouble 7:27 3. Kozmik Eye 15:16 4. The Uffculme Variations 7:18 5. Cassiopeia, 2016 11:05 6. The Grand Theme Of Things 5:35 LINEUP: Cary Grace - vocals, EMS VCS3 Andy Budge - bass David Payne - drums Victoria Reyes - keyboards, vocals, percussion With: Steffe Sharpstrings - guitars Graham Clark - violin
Prolusion. UK based artist Cary GRACE first appeared back in 2004 with her debut album "Book of Rhymes", and have since been a feature in the UK rock scene issuing new material at a steady pace with six studio albums available so far. "The Uffculme Variations" is a live album that appeared in 2016, and unless I'm much mistaken this is also her first live production.
Analysis. Psychedelic rock and space rock have always been a feature in progressive rock. Not always acknowledged by all fans of progressive rock, but a style and style variation that have always been a part of this totality, both as an original inspiration for the development of progressive rock way back when, but also as a distinct part of it when progressive rock was defined. Some of the various incarnations of psychedelic rock relies quite a bit on improvisation. And, at least to my ears, this live albums features a few specimens of that kind, creations that if not in full then at least in part comes across as being of an improvised nature. With one or more instruments soloing, trading places, going for the call and answer routine before or after combining, with a nice backbone of a compelling bass line and steady rhythms maintaining motion and tension. Which works rather well too, especially when the instrumentalists are as expressive as on this occasion. From what I think I can hear the guitars and violin play starring roles here, with the keyboards given somewhat less space to shine in a truly dominant manner, but always a presence as a provider of effects or as a balancing medium in between the instruments I find to be most dominant. The six cuts here aren't uniform however, and not all of them have an extensive improvised feel to them either. Opening cut Orange Sky is a more delicate and careful affair for instance, relatively speaking, with room for Grace's charming, powerful vocals, and the following track Trouble is a more intense and driving affair with something of a punk-tinged attitude to it. Both of them also reminding me ever so slightly about vintage era Gary Numan, for some reason or other. The concluding cut The Grand Theme of Things is another track here that for me has more of a structered and composed feel to it, this one a more majestic affair with rich instrument textures as a key feature. The longer cuts in between these three are the ones that to my ears have more of an improvised feel to them. The way this is set up does feel rather planned as well. A more careful and atmospheric laden song to kick off, an energetic one to stir the heat, three creations with more of a floating and free spirit to them sending the audience flying, and then getting back to Earth again with something a tad more structured for the conclusion.
Conclusion. Those with an interest in psychedelic progressive rock and space rock will probably be rather familiar with the talents of Cary Grace already, but for those who aren't, and that tends to enjoy a live set where substantial parts of the concert comes across as having an improvised spirit present, could do a lot worse than tracking down this live album for their possible enjoyment.
Progmessor: February 27th, 2018
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