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Bob The Screamer: Twinety-twine

Hmmm, a progressive rock album with a quirky title, recorded, produced, mixed, composed and performed by one lone individual, who has the "name" Bob The Screamer? The signs aren't good really are they? Well thank goodness for exceptions, as Twinety-twine is actually a rather impressive second offering from an artist, who, while working mostly in the instrumental area, certainly understands that music with access points, a few hooks scattered liberally throughout and an ethos that doesn't see the virtuosity of the performances overshadow the essence of the songs, makes for an album that stands up to repeat listens.

Admittedly the short acoustic opener "Stillness" isn't the most enigmatic introduction you'll ever hear, but at under three minutes, that's forgivable but by the time that the ever evolving keyboard melody of "Twine", which morphs into a considered piece of guitar-key's duelling, ebbs into view, the interest levels are already raised considerably. Bob (or should that be Mr Screamer?) certainly can play, something that the expertly pitched guitar solo pinpoints, but it his eye for songwriting detail and smart arrangements that make the strongest impression, with the usual one man band pitfalls of self indulgence and lack of restraint, expertly sidestepped in favour of well structured songs that seduce and grow in depth as you invest time in them.

"Twine" runs for just over ten minutes, but both it and "Soaring", which is almost identical in length, pass in a flash of ever changing focuses and ideas that avoid repetition, while still sounding like complete, whole, pieces of music. ...The Screamer is Swedish in origin, but the styles presented across this album suggest a songsmith who has spent a long time infusing tradition English prog values into more European flavours, with the keyboard heavy sections giving a Central European feel. "Dispersing Mist" and "Fields" keep up the song length, the former clocking just under ten minutes, while the latter edges just over. However again the variation between tracks and, crucially, within them makes this mid album quartet that makes up for over forty minutes of music, move along at brisk pace, even when the tempo is sedate. Everything feels crafted and loved for, with little coming close to being superfluous, instead the atmospheric layering of keyboard voices deliberately compliment guitar work that moves between pointed and searing to great effect. Some of Bob's acoustic guitar work reminds of the great Steve Hackett, but while a whole host of vintage prog acts are nodded to throughout, for the main no one other band stands out too blatantly as an influence. "A Story You Know Well" halves the standard song length, adding a more introspective tone, with the only vocal of the album bringing maudlin atmosphere. That said Bob's voice is less than convincing something the half spoken delivery suggests Bob himself knows however even then the vocal arrangement shows skill and understanding and with a more characterful voice involved, could have been something really rather special. The album then closes with "In Conclusion", Bob having a studio conversation with himself as he builds and plays a selection of joyous guitar solos over a simple keyboard backing, making for an understated and enjoyable, if throwaway ending to a selection of music that deserved a far weightier finale. Sadly the only real missed step being the ones which give the opening and leave the final impressions.

Twinety-twine is a release that delivers so much more than its album and artists' name suggest, so don't let those minor quibbles put you off experiencing a classy, well executed slice of keyboard led prog that seldom falters and often rewards.

Track Listing
1. Stillness
2. Twine
3. Soaring
4. Dispersing mist
5. Fields
6. A Story You Know Well

Added: March 25th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Bob The Screamer online
Hits: 1877
Language: english

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