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Exhibit A: Out There

Following on from A Different Dimension, which was the 1991 debut effort from UK quintet Exhibit A, 1994 saw the release of album number two Out There. Whereas the band's first effort saw a mixture of neo-prog with a hint of New Romantic, Out There found the band move away from the poppier aspects of their sound, with a more straight on neo-prog sound and while they do it extremely well, the change of focus makes this album the least individual of the three Exhibit A albums so far. As with the debut, the production isn't as sharp as it could be (the band refer to both albums as demos), but also as before, that fact doesn't stop some excellent songs and performances from shining through the slightly muddy mix. The guitar work of Nick Hampson stars throughout and the rhythm pairing of Steve Watts on bass and drummer Tony Robertson (who is the only member from back then not to feature on the fantastic new Exhibit A album Make Mine A Lobster), provides a solid base from which Hampson and keyboard player Neil Foss build some infectiously progressive grooves.

For evidence of those great grooves, look no further than the excellent "Pseudo City", which with its changes of tempo, stinging guitar solo and atmospheric keyboards, is arguably the strongest song on the album. However the tribal drums and easy going vibe of "Don't Let Go" is a clever change of pace, while "On The Edge" merges IQ with Genesis, for an unusually accessible slab of prog with Neil's keys adding a massive chunk of pomp to the proceedings. Add to that the melodic guitar motif of "Learning The Hard Way", which is the most commercial song on the album and you are left with an album that reveals more and more joys with every listen.

There's no denying that Out There and its predecessor A Different Dimension are a snapshot of a talented group of musicians searching for a sound that they could rightly call their own, without ever quite getting there. Or that both albums would benefit greatly from a stronger production. However there are some great songs to be found on both discs as well as hints of what was to come from Exhibit A. But to hear the band in their full glory the best starting place remains their 2010 reformation album Make Mine A Lobster, which some sixteen years down the line is the follow up to this disc and finds Exhibit A really having developed into a band that lovers of prog with an ear for strong melodies shouldn't be able to resist.

Track Listing
1. Within These Walls
2. On The Edge
3. Against The Flow
4. Scared To Live
5. Pseudo City
6. Hindsight
7. Don't Let Go
8. Learning The Hard Way

Added: January 15th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Exhibit A Official Web Site
Hits: 1983
Language: english

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