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Rick Miller - 2020 - "Unstuck In Time"

(55:41; Progressive Promotion Records)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. The Plague 12:21
2. State of Emergency 5:13
3. Covid Concerto 3:18
4. Fateful Apparitions 7:12
5. La Causa 3:38
6. Lost Continuum 3:54
7. In Sync with the System 6:01
8. Broken Clocks 2:30
9. Unstuck in Time 11:34


Rick Miller - vocals, instruments
Barry Haggarty - guitars
Sarah Young - flute
Kane Miller - violin, guitars
Mateusz Swoboda - cello
Will - drums, percussion

Prolusion. Canadian composer and musician Rick MILLER started out as a solo artist back in 1984, but it was first in the year 2000 that he started to release new material at a more regular rate. "Unstuck in Time" is his 15th solo album, the second album he has released in 2020 and also the second album he has chosen to release through German label Progressive Promotion Records.

Analysis. I have followed Miller's career for quite a few years by now, and have reviewed more than half a dozen of his previous productions. The first of his albums from this year is in my backlog as well, and hopefully I'll be able to work my way back to it sooner rather than later as well. Still, it has been a few years now since I reviewed any of Miller's solo albums, and it feels nice to return to his peculiar and specific landscapes. For those not aware of this artist already, I think the best general description to give is that this is dark, atmospheric laden material with distinct similarities to the later Gilmour-era of Pink Floyd. You know what you will get with a Rick Miller album, that is one of his strengths as well as weaknesses as an artist. Those who find his material to be generally intriguing and enthralling will enjoy just about all of his albums, while those who crave an artist to constantly develop and change their sound and style will be less likely to enjoy the scope and width of Miller's solo career. This isn't a case of an artist not developing though, but rather an artist that makes minute adjustments to his compositions and execution. At times introducing a fair array of new elements as a matter of fact, but just about always in an unobtrusive manner, over time gradually allowing the new elements to get a stronger role to play in the compositions - or opting to remove them if time and experience reveals that the additions perhaps didn't fit in long term. At least that is my impression from the albums I'm familiar with so far. Wandering acoustic guitars with and without darker toned electric guitar support is a mainstay of Miller's sound, and alongside atmospheric laden guitar solo sequences that have some distinct Gilmourish tendencies and occasional nods in the direction of Andrew Latimer these foundation stones creates the strongest resemblances towards aforementioned Pink Floyd. The melancholic to dark moods and atmospheres will often emphasize this aspect. Traits that are more distinct to Miller is the manner in which he uses both light and dark toned soft, floating keyboard textures in his arrangements, and his limited range but very effective calm, dark and slightly raspy vocals is a distinct and defining feature. Additional elements in play on this album are occasional organ details, a more liberal use of violin and cello to add haunting and mournful dimensions to the proceedings, more playful and contrasting subtle elements by way of a flute and a liberal amount of backing vocals and supporting vocal effects. The longer compositions also feature passages with more of a cinematic nature to them, using effects and spoken words to stress that aspect, and some of the material also feature arrangements with a bit more of a subtle orchestral touch applied now and then. A couple of instances with a more electronic and borderline Kraftwerk approach and the same number of instances with more of a latin-oriented approach, one of them not too far away from Flamenco at times, also expands the dimensions explored a bit. For my sake I also got the impression that Miller has become more adept at finding the right tempo for the different parts of his compositions, then in terms of maintaining or developing tension, and that the material by and large have a slightly better flow than I can recall from previous albums. Not in any major manner, but small, subtle alterations. Or an extra bit of polish if you like.

Conclusion. Rick Miller is a go to artist for just about anyone that wants to immerse themselves in an open, inviting and at times hauntingly beautiful variety of accessible progressive rock. Those who are fond of the more accessible aspects of Gilmour-era Pink Floyd will most likely enjoy just about any of Rick Miller's solo albums, and in my opinion this most recent ones is among the better album's by Miller at this stage, at least as a total album experience. If you find the general description of this album to be alluring, chances are good that you will really enjoy this one.

Progmessor: January 2021
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Rick Miller

Progressive Promotion Records


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