"2KX" is the permanent band formed from the recent international prog endeavor, "Lisa LaRue Project 2K9." Lisa La Rue, an Oklahoma Music Awards' Native American Artist of the Year, is the leader and keyboardist for the band. The band also includes, Steve Adams, on guitars and bass and Merrill Hale on drums from the Portland, Oregon band ARZ. Cellist Mike Alvarez adds depth and mood to the music. There are several noted guest artists on this album including; "John Payne, (Asia Ft. John Payne), on vocals; Mitch Perry (Edgar Winter Group, MSG, Cher and more), Don Schiff (Rocket Scientists, and many more), Michael Sadler (Saga), Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard and GPS) and Maxi Nil (Visions of Atlantis)" (http://www.lisalaruemusic.com/fr_intro.cfm, 2011).
Fast and Blue is one of the better releases of the year. A nice and welcomed addition to anyone's prog record collection. Original music steeped in the tradition of the masters of prog's legendary past. The guest list should be enough for any fan to show an interest, but the artwork, fine production and incredibly epic nature of the music should clinch your purchase of this disc.
"Mystery of the Rose", is a beautiful opener full of interesting keys, nice flowing bass, smooth electric guitar, a tribal like choir and soft drums. Beautiful opening setting the stage for one of the best tracks on the album.
The mandolin that opens and plays through "Prometheus" will capture your attention and hold you spellbound. Then the powerful, almost tribal drums begin before a cascading melody reminiscent of Justin Hayward's "Forever Autumn" takes over. A wonderful mysterious sound full of natural elements and then that Hackett – like guitar pierces the air as flute – like synths surround the soundscape. They add in a little Kansas "Leftoverture" – like keys and buzzing guitars, and then end this section with bells and a gong. Then Carl Palmer – like drums open as they wind things up with a Tony Banks/'Trick of the Tail' inspired keyboard, guitar, bass and drum assault. The wild organ section which opens the last chapter is incendiary as those drums and guitars add even more light to the experience. Ryo Okumento is credited with keys on the second half of the track providing another power guest performance for this album. Don Schiff provides NS Stick to the sound adding even more flavor. A soaring epic exploring the many moods and wonders of the epic prog of the 70s.
"Tryptych" opens with a crowd cheering and wonderful cello and soft acoustic guitar. Another of the best tracks on the album. This track will take you back to Anthony Phillips flavored guitar music that many prog fans know and love. The keys join in taking the level up a notch as the acoustic keeps perfect pace. This one is full of beautiful moods and soft pleasant romanticism. The strings and the 'live' quality just add so much to the entire soundscape of the track.
"Jam Jehan Nima" opens with a great guitar riff and power drums, bass, and keys. The lead electric whines and weaves some mysterious Eastern sounds as the drums play on surrounded by haunting keys. The tribal – like drums increase in intensity as the song winds up. More cool instrumentation is added creating more and more dynamic effects. Cool chanting tribal choirs with those powerful drums building sound. Mitch Perry's guitar cuts its way through the sound as the keys add even more pyroclastic moments. Another of the big epics on this album. The spacey keys towards the end are excellent.
"Lamont of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home" John Payne delivers some spoken word poetry from John Howard Payne of the 1830s, after an excellent keyboard intro with Mike Alverez's cello and soft guitar. Payne reads, "O' soft fills the dew on the twilight descending. And night over the distant forest is bending. Like the storm spirit, dark o'er the tremulous rain" The guitar and drum work is fantastic throughout this mournful piece of music. The mandolin breathes even more emotion as the soft piano and thudding drums help build the soundscape.
The title track, "Fast and Blue" has a powerful Asia feel to it and the fact that John Payne leads on vocals only helps reinforce the feeling. The keys and drums are excellent. The bass is powerful and up front helping to provide the power which was sometimes missing on some of Asia's albums. Maxi Nil's backing vocals help add the emotion and warmth missing before she enters.
"Recurring Dream" is full of guest lead vocalist Michael Sadler's voice giving it that Saga flair. Payne and Sadler duet as the song builds, bringing together two powerful voices of prog's past. The keys are stellar and the lead electric guitar soars to breathtaking heights. An excellent way to close one of the year's best new releases.
01. Mystery Of The Rose
04. Jam Jehan Nima
05. Lament Of The Cherokee/ Ruins Of Home
06. Fast And Blue
07. Recurring Dream