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(77:42, Hollow Water)
TRACK LIST: 1. Day in Day Out 5:10 2. Mirror's Frame 7:21 3. Rainbows Begin / 4. Gathering Sunbeams for the Future 15:10 5. The Quantum Mechanic & the Map Collector 6:30 6. Rainbow's End 8:04 7. Trick of the Light 6:34 8. Immortal Portal 5:41 9. Solar Beacon 6:11 10. The Light Dimension 6:52 11. Illusions & Delusions 6:46 12. We Changed. This World Didn't 4:57 LINEUP: Alan Cookson - keyboards Huw Roberts - guitars with: Mark Lock - vocals Ilia Skibinsky - saxophone Nate Madsen - saxophone Matt Quistorf - guitars Steve Giddings - guitars Federico Buffa - guitars Jair-Rohm Parker Wells - bass Damjan Kapour - bass Siros Vaziri - drums
Prolusion. UK project HOLLOW WATER is the creative vehicle of Alan Cookson and Huw Roberts, that have been working together since 2012 creating instrumental music. Taking their venture one step further, they enlisted the aid of fellow musicians from Europe and the US to create a proper full length concept album. The end result became "Rainbow's End", which was self-released in 2016.
Analysis. Doing some research on this band and this album, I see that many have lavished this production with quite a bit of praise. Which I can understand on some levels, although my experience isn't quite the revelation others appears to have had. One of the big draws of this production is that it is a vintage-era progressive rock concept album of course, and one that appears to preserve also the sounds and atmospheres of days long gone. This aspect of it, more than anything else, is why I guess it has charmed it's way into many people's hearts. And this is a charming production. One of those albums that refuse to be pigeonholed into any specific subset of the progressive rock universe, and that embrace so much of what was good about progressive rock in it's heyday. You'll find compositions revolving around atmospheric elements, others with a more dominant heavy guitar and organ attack, the darker, melancholic landscapes of Pink Floyd makes it onto this album, as does more chaotic psychedelic material not too many trips away from the likes of Hawkwind. Atmospheric laden creations closer to the likes of Camel appears as well, and there's even a track or two that shies more away from the progressive aspect altogether. And as the icing on the cake, some jazz-oriented details are used here and there as well, and there's even a funky groove or two to nod along to. The album is long, the concept obviously explored rather in depth, and the songs are just about as intricate in structure as most progressive rock fans will desire, and then especially those favoring old school progressive rock. The songs themselves may be a slight minus here, as on some occasions the lead vocalist and backing vocalists does appear to stumble a lot with the lyrics. The lead vocals themselves aren't of the quality I'd expect or prefer, although this may well be a combination of the first detail and a delivery I don't enjoy all that much on a personal level. Technically the vocals are up to par, but some aspect or other of it fails to elevate the sections when they are featured. Mix and production isn't quite at the level I prefer either, and in general I'm left with the impression that perhaps there was a bit too much that was phoned in here (or rather Dropboxed in these days), and then to the extent that the musicians involved didn't get the possibility to play towards each others strengths. Be that as it may be, for me personally this means that the total album experience here is somewhat less than the sum of it's parts. But there is no denying that this is a charming album, and one that will be enjoyed by many people.
Conclusion. If you have a real and true fondness for vintage era progressive rock of the inclusive variety, enjoy long concept albums with many long songs, and in general has a deep fascination with how the elaborate progressive rock of yesteryear was, then Hollow Water is a band that most likely will charm you. Especially if the sound and atmospheres of those classic albums is something you miss whenever you come across a new album by contemporary artists.
Progmessor: October 26th, 2017
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