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Rausch: Book II

It had been a while since we have heard from keyboard maestro Doug Rausch. He released his self-titled debut album in 2009. Well, he is back with his sophomore release Book II and what an outstanding piece of art this is.

Rausch's instrument of choice is the piano and after hearing any one of these nine tracks it is easy to hear why. He continues his excellent playing and outstanding sense of melody that trademarked his first album. In fact, he has further matured as a player and his lead vocals are highly enjoyable as well as he uses both tenor and falsetto to get his point across. Bombastic, theatrical, subdued, adventurous, intense and delightful are just a few adjectives that describe this wonderful disc. Also of note are the excellent guest musicians including Mark Zonder (ex-Fates Warning), Gary Wehrkamp, Brendt Allman and Brian Ashland of Shadow Gallery and Ryo Okumoto of Spock's Beard.

The album begins with "Greener Grass" where crashing symphonies, Queen-like vocals and excellent guitar breaks ala Brian May should hold any fan of orchestral music in rapt attention. There is a lot to absorb in a short amount of time but it works amazingly well. Lone piano chords and vocals begin "Swansong" before the riffs explode and a catchy groove ignites. Perhaps less orchestral than the first track but no less interesting with nice builds and more Queen-like harmonies. On "Drain", the album's longest track, the beginning piano is stark and moody with Rausch's vulnerable lead vocals before acoustic guitar strums lead to heavier riffs heightening the drama. The contrast between heavy and soft accentuates the dramatic nature of this music. With "Irked" Rausch's vocals come across a little more angry, hence the song title. Keyboards are laid over a neat buzzing effect as cool jazzy piano motifs and bursts of heavy guitar and soaring background vocals create a symphony of pure delight. Here the guitar work takes on a bluesier tone. Another cool track is the pomp pop rock of "Time Out", as catchy as anything on the disc while furthering the album's quirky nature. Some real stand out acoustic guitar on this one. The cutting edge metallic riffs and fiery guitar solos in "Speechless" and the incredibly poignant vocal and piano track "Slow Suite: II. Isolation", which really does render one speechless, are both excellent. I also need to mention the sometimes brooding and mind bending spacey experiment that is "The End" sometimes recalling The Floyd's trippier movements. The pace is generally slow letting the moody soundscapes settle into your being.

Really, Rausch and his cohorts have outdone themselves this time offering an outstanding sophomore effort that will be making its way into my CD player for weeks and months to come. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:
1. Greener Grass
2. Swansong
3. Drain
4. Irked
5. Good Day
6. The End
7. Time Out
8. Speechless
9. Slow Suite: II. Isolation

Added: February 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Score:
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 438
Language: english

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