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Protos - 1982/2006 - "One Day a New Horizon"

(45:42 / 'Protos Music')



1.  The Fugitive 9:01
2.  Thing of Beauty 4:06
3.  The Maiden 5:55
4.  Panamor 5:24
5.  Hunting Extremely Large Animals 2:49
6.  New Horizon 9:28
7.  The Flea 3:00
8.  Variations 5:50


Rory Ridley-Duff - keyboards
Steve Anscombe - guitars
Neil Goldsmith - drums

Prolusion. The short-lived English band PROTOS is inseparably linked with the work of keyboardist Rory Ridley-Duff whose first solo effort, "Passing Decades Vol. 1", is reviewed here. The hero of this occasion is the CD reissue of Protos' only studio album, "One Day a New Horizon", originally released on LP in 1982. According to Mr. Ridley-Duff, the group has one more CD release, "Into the Mouth of the Tiger". A collection of their live performances from 1983, it features Rory on keyboards, Steve Anscombe on guitars, Iain Carnegie on drums and (which is most important in my eyes) a bassist, Nigel Rippon.

Analysis. As is clear from the lineup above, "One Day a New Horizon" doesn't feature a bass player, and since Rory very rarely uses bass pads, the sound is lacking in depth even to a greater degree than that of "Passing Decades". Three of the eight instrumentals present, The Maiden, Hunting Extremely Large Animals and Variations, have their counterparts on the said solo effort by Ridley-Duff. I think I will examine the first two of these in the review's general context, without comparing them to Rory's versions. As for Variations, although this very edition of the cut is still performed by Rory all alone (unlike the other tunes) and is the most original tune here too, it somewhat differs, well, from its other incarnation. Whilst the classical influence remains strong, it is less prevalent, with somewhat more conventional sympho-prog canvases now presented more widely. When listening to the other tracks, I was more than once reminded of Camel (mainly circa "Rain Dances"), in a few places the influence being striking, particularly on the longest three ones, The Fugitive, New Horizon and The Maiden, which nevertheless are the most impressive. The music, while being strongly dominated by synthesizers plus involving some quantities of classically-structured harmonies, follows the Camel art-rock formula, with electric guitar in the Andy Latimer style periodically highlighting the textures. The keyboard playing of Rory is the most remarkable, revealing melodic and, at times, truly grand chord progressions. His two partners, guitarist Steve Anscombe and drummer Neil Goldsmith, are also competent musicians, although more straightforward, Steve often just laying down a beat, rather than coming to the fore with the others. It also needs to be mentioned that the cymbals are too high, whilst the drums are often buried in the mix. It seems the mellow art-rockers, Panamor and The Flea, are both basically penned by Anscombe, but while his acoustic guitar runs all through each, it is still Rory's keyboards that are determinative regarding the cuts' overall sound. Thing of Beauty and Hunting Extremely Large Animals are both still beautiful, but are instantly accessible, to say the least, the music being slow throughout. As these are focused much more on the melody than on the playing, some may take them as a more relaxed approach to Art-Rock, whereas others may find them just boring.

Conclusion. Musically, "One Day a New Horizon" is a rather pleasing affair. However, the absence of bass, as well as the outing's general production values which leave much to be desired (especially taking into account that the material was recorded in 1982, but not sometime at the very dawn of the '50s), makes it problematic that the CD will find an appropriate response on the part of all those who get it. Of course, the album is rated just according to its musical content as such, without considering its sound quality etc.

VM: April 26, 2007

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Rory Ridley-Duff


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