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Intelligent Music Project III - 2015 - "Touching the Divine"

(63:00; Intelligent Music)


It was with the third album, 2015’s ‘Touching The Dream’, that the project started to become more recognisable to those of us who have only come to their music more recently. Simon Phillips was now working on the album and recording in America while composer Vrabevski was working on other sections in Bulgaria. Whereas previously the music had been mostly recorded in Bulgaria, this time around Phillips brought in fellow session stars Nathan East (bass – sometimes thought of as the most recorded bassist in the world) and guitarist Tim Peirce (whose recording history reads like a list who’s who of modern music). Joseph Williams (Toto) returns, and this time the album also features John Payne as lead singer on more than half the numbers while Carl Sentence (Nazareth, Persian Risk) provides some backing vocals. He took on a much larger role on the next album, which also featured Payne and Williams. The album is broken into three sections, with the first three songs called “Heading Skywards – A Rhapsody In A”, the next seven are “A Smile To Always Love You – A Fantasy in G”, with the last four being “On Solid Ground”. Right from the off with “Opening (Cool Inside)”, which features lead vocals from Williams, one is highly invested. It may start with delicate acoustic guitar and vocals, but the riffing electric provides backing for some gorgeous classical piano before Field takes control with a soaring solo. Moving through the album, one is never sure what is going to come next, whether it is a melodic rocker or a ballad, but it doesn’t really matter about the musical style as the guys easily deal with whatever is being thrown at them. This has more of a band feel than the last one, even with different singers, with the same core musicians throughout (although some additional elements are added from Bulgaria). There is also less orchestration than on the two previous albums, as this moves more strongly into melodic rock. All the songs are platforms for the singers, and it is interesting to see what veteran guitarist Tim Pierce says about the album, “This project is great, because it’s very, very challenging and musical, in a way like Queen is musical… and it’s got all of these layers and colours. Musically it’s very fun, because it travels a lot of different places.” There is definitely a sense of enjoyment in the album, combined with polish and great vocals – just listen to “Stay Up” with lush vocals over staccato guitar, where Payne and Williams share the lead, which switches into something orchestral. Superb. We even get one number where all three singers share the lead, “Simply Feels Good” and the music grooves along. Yet another interesting melodic rock release from this Bulgarian/American project.

Progtector: August 2020

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Intelligent Music Project


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