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(50:17, Steve Thorne)
TRACK LIST: 1. In the Frame 5:11 2. Animal 6:31 3. Colours of Torment 4:44 4. Don't Fear Tomorrow 3:46 5. Island of the Imbeciles 3:40 6. Dear Mother Earth 3:25 7. Let Me Down 4:48 8. Ancestors 4:35 9. Ashes 6:49 10. They Are Flesh 6:48 LINEUP: Steve Thorne - vocals, all instruments With: Robin Armstrong - guitars Tony Levin - bass Nick D'Virgilio - drums James Maclaren - backing vocals
Prolusion. UK artist and composer Steve THORNE appeared as a recording solo artist back in 2005, and have been releasing new solo material at a steady pace ever since. "Island of the Imbeciles" is his fifth and most recent one, and was self released in 2016.
Analysis. For many fans of progressive rock, the music Steve Thorne presents on this album will fails to tick a few boxes. The compositions are fairly straight forward affairs, with alterations in pace nor any multiple themes for starters. The structures of the songs are straight forward, basically, and plays out in a similar manner to mainstream rock. That the heart and core of the songs also appears to be of the singer/songwriter variety; at least my impression is that the core of these songs have been worked out with vocals accompanied by either guitar or piano, is another such trait. The arrangements are the main progressive aspect of this production, and in the realm of progressive rock this marks down this album to be an accessible one. In fact, I'd suspect that this is a production where the main potential audience would be in the mainstream rock segment rather than the progressive one as such. That being said, this is an excellent production, no matter if you find it to be progressive or not. Thorne have worked a lot with the keyboard arrangements throughout, and carefully orchestrated layers of keyboards and synthesizers give life to this album. The drums are good too, especially on the tracks where D'Virgilio contributes, and the use of electric guitar for subservient darker textures is effective, the at times Floydian, blues-tinged atmospheric guitar solo textures as well. It is the use of keyboards, synthesizers and effects that elevates this as an album experience though, used to very good effect throughout to create intriguing, sophisticated music that blends mainstream oriented songs with a progressive rock flavoring. An additional detail, and one rather important to note at that, are the lead vocals. Thorne is an excellent singer. Perhaps not in terms of range, but in terms of vocal control and knowing how to emphasize emotion in his delivery. He has a generally pleasant voice, and use it to very good effect throughout, and also know when some vocal effects are needed and how to make the very best use of those. This is the icing on the cake for this production, elevating several songs on to a higher level of enjoyment.
Conclusion. While Steve Thorne, at least on this particular album, isn't creating music in the heartland of the progressive rock universe, this is a very good album that deserves attention. Existing somewhere in the triangle of singer/songwriter music, mainstream pop/rock and progressive rock, this is an album that merits a check by those with a fondness for the most accessible parts of progressive rock. Music of the kind that, at least in my view, has an even greater potential outside of the progressive rock oriented audience as well. A superb album, that certainly deserves more attention than it has received so far.
Progmessor: March 25th, 2018
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