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(68:44, Melodic Revolution Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Nexus-1 1:30 2. Earthbound 3:21 3. Riding the Waves 5:09 4. Hold On 4:07 5. Requiem Pro Caris 3:21 6. Nexus-2 1:26 7. Twilight 3:47 8. Mother 4:37 9. Freedom Paradigm 6:03 10. Nexus-3 1:11 11. The River Dream 6:59 12. No More Time 8:00 13. Legacy 4:02 14. Music of the Spheres 7:34 15. Return to the Nexus 7:37 LINEUP: Darrel Treece-Birch – keyboards; bass, mandolin; drums; voice With: John Power – vocals; bass, guitars; violin Alan Taylor – vocals; guitars Gavin Walker – bass Karen Fell – vocals &: Four more guitarists
Prolusion. UK composer and musician Darrel TREECE-BIRCH is first and foremost known as a member of hard rock band Ten, a fairly popular venture he has been a part of since 2011. Other than that he's a member of progressive rock band Nth Ascension and Counterparts (Rush cover band). Treece-Birch has also had a solo venture ongoing when not too busy with his band projects. "No More Time" is his second solo production, and was released by the US label Melodic Revolution Records in the summer of 2016.
Analysis. If one thing becomes apparent fairly quickly when giving this album a listen, then it is that Treece-Birch is an accomplished musician with a good ear for how to effectively use keyboard arrangements to create appealing and inviting moods and atmospheres. Both as the standalone dominant instruments, as more often than not it would appear several tangent instruments are in action, but also alongside other instruments in general and the guitar in particular. Another thing that quickly becomes apparent is that the album is fairly uneven in terms of style as well as quality. The best sides of this CD as a whole are the compositions where the keyboards are in the limelight. More often than not in atmospheric creations, instrumental or with a spoken voice, but also on a few occasions with a more fleshed out arrangement and more adventurous music does stand out on the good side here. The surging, soaring and hovering keyboard textures, as well as some nifty piano motifs here and there, combine easily into mesmerizing landscapes that go from cosmic-tinged new age oriented pieces to elegant, flowing creations closer to the likes of Camel, complete with some Latimer-style guitar solo runs for these latter tracks. It's when the compositions expand the scope that the end result at times feels a bit more lacking to me. Not due to these songs being of a lesser quality in general, but rather due to some elements being of a slightly detrimental or divisive general nature. The recurring and ongoing weakness is the drums, one-dimensional, pedestrian and mechanic in nature. Many probably won't take notice, but those that do will probably find the greater amounts of drums and percussion present to be of a too mechanical and one-dimensional nature. Some of the more developed compositions also have a tendency to sound too closed in, some more than others, like they have been recorded through a layer of cotton. Again an aspect of this production, I suspect, not all that many will notice, but a detrimental aspect for those that do. A slightly different but divisive aspect is the songs featuring vocals, where two of the vocalists have a voice that is very distinct and personal. For me this was on the negative side due to certain aspects of their delivery, a case of vocals that will have an individual rather than universal appeal. In terms of style the more developed and sophisticated compositions are probably the ones that will have the strongest appeal for a progressive rock oriented audience, quite a few of them exploring landscapes fairly close to late ‘70s Pink Floyd, as well as a single cut that in style and sound comes across as slightly more of a progressive metal tinged affair.
Conclusion. Darrel Treece-Birch's second solo album "No More Time" comes across as an uneven production on many levels, but also a somewhat eclectic one. Ranging from atmospheric, close to new age, music on one hand to dark toned, majestic tracks closer to being progressive metal in style, this is a CD that is looking for listeners with a fairly broad taste in music. A certain affection for keyboards dominated albums is probably called for when listening to this album as well, alongside an ability to disregard some of the weaker aspects in place on focusing on the good parts. An album to seek out for the good parts, as well as a production those with a strong affection for keyboard dominated classic and progressive rock albums might want to investigate.
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