For anyone who doesn't mind derivation in their music - and, after all, why should you, it's a little bit like carping at Mozart for not having invented the symphonic form - then Eye 2 Eye's After All...., coming to you all the way from the early-period Genesis and Pink Floydian schools of progressive rock, will be an absolute delight. This is progressive rock alright - neo-progressive if you want a label - but perhaps not necessarily "progressive" - I'm sure you can understand the difference. Am I bothered? No. Why? Because it's gorgeous to listen to, that's why, and that's what music is all about.
Eye 2 Eye's previous album, One in Every Crowd was actually released under the slightly different name of Eye to Eye. Perhaps the guys have become so enthusiastic about texting that they decided to abbreviate (!!) the name. Hey ho! After All... was recorded between September 2006 and June 2008 at keyboards maestro Phillipe Benabes's home studio in France. Philippe is joined by original members Amirouche Ali Benali (guitars) and Didier Pegues (drums and piano). Completing the band line-up for this second album are new boys Aymeric Delteil (bass) and Jacques Daly (vocals). Jacques contribution is notable because he was the last to join, and then wrote virtually all the lyrics to the music that had already been nearly finished! It's to his great credit that you would not be able to detect that fact from listening to the album: his contribution is perfectly integrated. Some additional musicians and backing vocalists also appear; I will highlight Elise Bruckert because of her beautiful additions on violin.
Take a look at the track timings, they do not lie. This is complex music, with a number of "movements" per composition, with changes in tempo and rhythmic structure. All clever stuff but thankfully the boys have not forgotten to infuse the music with oodles of gorgeous melodies, classic Floydian guitar lines and a particularly well chosen selection of keyboard sounds and textures. If I'm not mistaken there's plenty of mellotronics in there (though not necessarily a mellotron: modern bands often prefer the more reliable state-of-the-art sampled mellotron sounds. Purists will say that's cheating, but it's the end result that matters). Some of the orchestral sounds and synthesized choral effects, together with their integration into the music, are very special. Jacques Daly is a good singer for this music, with a warm but strong voice, flexible enough to take you through its various moods.
Musically, five of these eight compositions are the work of Pegues, two are Ali-Benali's with one, "Cold and Happy", being credited to Benabes. Pegues also helped out Daly with the lyrics on three compositions. These details, whilst they are of import to the individuals themselves, are of no matter to the music as any artistic differences are smoothed by the synergy of the band's overall contribution, to the extent that the album, despite having three different musical composers and being nearly two years in the making, has a very coherent feel.
If anything, perhaps Ali-Benali's two compositions, "A Celebration" and "Hovering", have slightly beefier guitar hovering over the Floydian overtones than the other numbers but that's a subtle call. Benabes's composition, "Cold and Happy", does full justice to his keyboard skills too, the "orchestration" on the piece is gorgeous. Pegues is not left behind, delivering some strong musical writing. "Overture" and the title track are adorned with some fine piano passages and "After All..." takes the accolade as the album's finest composition, allowing all the musicians to demonstrate their ample talents to the full and delivering some potent emotion.
Fans of Marillion and Pendragon, bands in the same musical lineage as Eye 2 Eye, may well enjoy After All.... Both those bands released albums in 2008 to high critical acclaim - and After All... is certainly on a par with those.
POST-SCRIPT:-The band contacted the site after seeing the original posting of the review (21st April), to explain the real reason for the change of name. There is another band that is called Eye To Eye and fans were becoming confused and buying the wrong band's albums! So, if you like After All... and want to purchase the previous one, remember there is only one and it is called One in Every Crowd. Oh, by the way, there is no truth in the rumor that the band texted Pete Pardo with this info....
1) Overture (2:30)
2) Tears of a Clown (8:10)
3) Cold and Happy (8:49)
4) Wasted (6:41)
5) A Celebration (15:22)
6) Pouring Rain (6:27)
7) Hovering (13:06)
8) After All....(14:20)