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(53:29; Progressive Promotion Records)
Back with their fifth studio album, SSTTGD have finally presented us with the follow-up in the concept which was started in their third, ‘The?Book’. It is quite clearly stated that the story is to be continued but given there has been eight years between the first two parts don’t expect it any time soon. Although this is a band album, in many ways it feels more like a Clive Nolan offering in that they have brought in many other musicians and singers to play certain parts. Peter Jones (Camel, Tiger Moth Tales, Red Bazar) here has a speaking part, and provides complete authority as Father. Interestingly, there is a statement in the digipak asking listeners to go to the website and read the story first, before playing the album itself. The story itself is by Thoralf Koss, while George Andrade then produced both lyrics and narration based on that, neither of whom are in the band. The music was composed by the founders of SSTTGD, Marek Arnold and Ulf Reinhardt. If that isn’t enough, my version of the CD comes with an A5 lyric book which also contains a working of the story. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of effort and money put into releases by bands who are unlikely to see a return, yet large music corporations do as little as possible so they can maximise the profit, even if it puts musicians on the breadline. As one expects from any of Marek’s musical adventures there is plenty of piano as well as keyboards, while his saxophone always makes valuable contributions – by now he must be one of the most well-known sax players in progdom, not an area where that instrument is often featured, yet here he makes it seem an integral part of the whole. Given the complexity of the storyline, which revolves around a family led by a religious fanatic, it is not surprising that the music is also full of twists and turns. There is a section of “A Dream That Strayed” which is pop funk, but it’s okay, it doesn’t stay that way for too long. At times it crunches, and at others is incredibly symphonic, with sometimes spoken word being the centre of attention, at others it is one of the singers, or it can be an extended musical passage. Harmonies abound, and a sweeping production makes this sound huge. There are just a few times where the words are deemed to be more important than the music, which does cause a slight jar when they don’t really fit together, but when the band is on a roll such as on “A Price To Pray II” then all is forgiven. Overall this is quite an undertaking from the guys, and I look forward to the conclusion of the story with great interest.
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