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TRACK LIST: 1. Another World 7:37 2. No More Heartache 6:24 3. Elephant In My Soup 3:28 4. I Can't Stop Loving You 4:19 5. Journey of Trelucabeth's Dream 6:41 6. Cry Baby Cry 3:42 7. Winter's Day 5:32 8. Vultress 5:06 9. Where the Wind Blows 10:49 10. We Are Lemurians 8:20 LINEUP: Ray Vanderby – organ; lead vocals Gina Woods – pianos; guitars; b/v Geoff Brown – bass Miam Lentini – drums Anni Lang – percussion; b/v
Prolusion. Not too much to put in this paragraph, since the press kit of this release is poor in information. COSMIC NOMADS is a quartet from Australia presenting “Vultress”, a follow-up to their debut album “Make Love Not War” from 2004.
Analysis. Ray Vanderby, who displays his versatility on both lead vocals and keyboards, is a possessor of a real Hammond, which, moreover, is completed with a real Leslie cabinet, the organ being a crucial instrument in this act. Ray’s main partner in the album’s soloing department, Gina Woods, plays electric guitar more often than Wurlitzer, but never uses modern sound processors, preferring an overdrive guitar pedal. Geoff Brown’s 5-string bass has a warm attack, and Miam Lentini’s drums are all acoustic. I could have probably omitted all these details, but the sound of this recording is so distinctly vintage (throughout, I’d even say from top to toe) that I would’ve easily believed the disc was recorded some 35 years ago hadn’t I been aware of the real state of affairs. “Vultress” is made up of ten tracks, ranging from three-and-a-half to almost eleven minutes, all coming with fairly laconic lyrics - to the benefit of the longer songs. From a classic progressive viewpoint, the two compositions that the CD begins with, Another World and No More Heartache, are definitely the winners. Within vocal sections (everywhere on the disc) Cosmic Nomads never leave the framework of standard Hard Rock, but those are in a minority on these two, whilst the remainder of each finds the band sporting an energetic and often positively bombastic sound in the vein of classic Symphonic Progressive with elements of Blues, quasi Jazz-Fusion and still Hard Rock. Both pieces contain some movements that instantly evoke the ELP version of Modest Mussorgsky’s famous piano cycle, “Pictures at an Exhibition”. Other reference points include Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, listed in line of descent according to their influences’ weight in this music. The last three pieces on the CD, the title track, Where the Wind Blows and We Are Lemurians, are all largely instrumental as well. Unlike the first two, however, these aren’t too rich in dramatic transitions with distinct shifts in pace and so on, developing mainly as variations on a few similar themes within the idiom of progressive Hard Rock with distinct symphonic tendencies. Nevertheless, there are plenty of exciting moments to be found on each, most of the movements rushing like avalanches, with cascades of driving solos on the part of literally all the musicians involved. On four of the five core tunes, I Can't Stop Loving You, Journey of Trelucabeth's Dream, Cry Baby Cry and Winter's Day, Cosmic Nomads bear the conventional imprint of the early ‘70s hard rock style with only occasional progressive leanings. Each reveals a couple of interesting instrumental passages with Ray providing some excellent organ lead against Gina’s guitar riffs, but those are too short to challenge the progressive ear. Anyhow all these can be regarded as quite decent creations as long as they’re viewed within their genre category. There’s only one track here that doesn’t suit my taste at all, namely Elephant in My Soup. With its old-fashioned-like lead vocals and monotonous “Boop-de-boop” backing vocals, it is obviously designed as a joke, which, however, is completely out of place on this recording, partly because it breaks the integrity of the general stylistic trend.
Conclusion. The genre chosen by this band has been explored the breadth and the length of it, but it would be unfair to say that there is nothing new to distinguish them from those who have worked in the same field before, let alone their contemporary brothers in style. Cosmic Nomads have a certain identity to their sound also, mixing their own ideas with those of their mentors to good effect. Save for the trick described last, their “Vultress” is as decent a symphonic hard rock recording as I’ve heard in quite a long time, full of energy, intelligence and instrumental fire. The CD is rated from the corresponding standpoint and comes recommended to respective listeners.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 31, 2008
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