Tinyfish: The Big Red Spark
Wide Awake at Midnight
Self-identified as "the world's smallest progressive rock band", Tinyfish has, ironically, created one of the biggest progressive rock albums in 2010 with The Big Red Spark. Boasting a stunning concept, a fantastic cast of musicians, and a professional overall product, Tinyfish has created a serious contender for progressive rock album of the year 2010. This album rocks when it needs to, it lets the atmosphere absorb you at the appropriate times, and, most importantly, it is amazing the whole way through. If you're a fan of the modern progressive rock scene, I would check out The Big Red Spark sooner rather than later. These guys may be a tiny fish (pun intended) in the ocean of progressive rock, but they have a big enough sound to really stand out from the crowd. I really hope that Tinyfish gets the recognition they deserve for The Big Red Spark outside of their dedicated cult following - they definitely deserve it.
Tinyfish sounds like a cross between Echolyn, Spock's Beard, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, and a bit of Pink Floyd. The vocal harmonies and complex tendencies remind me of early Spock's Beard and Echolyn, whereas the more atmospheric tendencies hint towards Pink Floyd, and the melancholic emotions are akin to fellow British bands Porcupine Tree and new-era Marillion. Tinyfish seem to have found the perfect balance between being melancholic and still having fun. The Big Red Spark is a concept album (aside from the closing track) about a machine that can grant man's wishes, which we later find out has some setbacks. My only real complaint with the entire album is that the final track, "Wide Awake at Midnight" feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the album. It's a fantastic song, but the fact that it's the only song on the entire album that's not part of The Big Red Spark Suite, it feels a bit awkward as a closing song. Aside from that small nitpicky complaint, I have no other issues about the album. The concept rarely gets in the way of the music, and the vast majority of the songs here are progressive rock masterpieces. Tracks like "Rainland", "Wide Awake at Midnight", "I'm Not Crashing", and "The Big Red Spark" are all terrific examples of what Tinyfish is all about.
The cast of musicians in Tinyfish are all very talented. They are technically a four-piece band, although Rob Ramsey is only responsible for the spoken word portions of the album. Simon Godfrey, who is responsible for vocals, drums, and rhythm guitar, is often the highlight for me. He has a spectacular voice with a great tone and impressive range. In addition to the four core members, there are also a host of guest musicians, all responsible for vocals, spoken word sections, and keyboard duties.
The production is simply amazing. It sounds very modern and is filled to the brim with great atmospheric qualities. No complaints here.
The Big Red Spark has often been considered one of the best prog albums from 2010, and after many dedicated listens, it's not hard to understand why. This strikingly original concept album with poignant lyrics and unforgettable music is enough to satisfy almost any listener. I was tempted to play my 5 star card here, but for now I'll go with a conservative 4.5 star rating. This is surely an essential modern prog album - long live Tinyfish!
1. The Loose Ends (3:11)
2. Rainland (6:54)
3. A Million Differences (2:05)
4. Bad Weather Road (6:20)
5. I'm Not Crashing (4:36)
6. Building The Machine (3:16)
7. Refugee (2:24)
8. The Big Red Spark (4:51)
9. Weak Machine (3:28)
10. Activation (0:38)
11. The Final Act (2:36)
12. The Loose Ends pt II (2:42)
13. Wide Awake At Midnight (10:21)
Tracks on Bonus DVD
1. The Sarcasm Never Stops (5:17)
2. Ride (5:26)
3. Eat The Ashes (3:19)
4. Let's Get Invisible (4:02)
Added: February 18th 2011
Reviewer: Jeff B
Related Link: Tinyfish Official Website
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|Tinyfish: The Big Red Spark
Posted by Alex Torres, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-02-18 15:36:33
Tinyfish's The Big Red Spark has been causing quite a stir in progressive rock circles recently, getting rave reviews – including here on SoT - and being voted into podium positions in a number of "best of 2010" polls.
I'll be giving you a different perspective and, because this is a round-table, will depart from the usual avoidance of subjectivity.
To put the following comments in context, I would say that I'm a fan of the band, have enjoyed their previous work, and had bought the album well before a promo copy for review arrived in the post from SoT.
However, I just can't enjoy The Big Red Spark at all: for me, it never gets going as an album. I can see that it's the kind of album that proggies really go for – totally conceptual, telling a story with a considerable number of spoken sections as the plot develops, evocative art-work. Problem is, for me, the actual music doesn't grab my interest, melodically or rhythmically.
I can't identify anything actually specifically wrong with the music, other than the fact that it is uninspiring, so that over the course of the album – and we are talking CD-length here, not vinyl-length – the listening experience begins to pall.
The spoken sections have quiet backing music in the background but the same comment about the music applies to these, even to the classical chamber orchestra music, which does at least have the benefit of making one's ears prick up to hear if something good's going to happen. Unfortunately, no, and when one of the sections is very reminiscent of a spoken excerpt from Andrea Baroni's excellent Traces of Humanity from last year, it cements your realisation that – in comparison with that musically varied concept album of Andrea's - The Big Red Spark is somewhat lacklustre.
A personal opinion, sure, but my advice to you would be to have a listen before you buy, despite the plaudits elsewhere.
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