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Comedy of Errors: Fanfare and Fantasy

I was fortunate enough to receive Comedy of Errors debut release "Disobey", as quite a wonderful surprise in 2011. I couldn't believe anyone was still making this type of music anymore. However, as their website details this is a Scottish band that has gigged for several years and has been writing music since the early days of the Neo – Prog surge of the 1980s.

Although Marillion, Pendragon, and others have departed the scene with their incremental progression towards Porcupine Tree, this band continues to make music set in the tradition I love and have enjoyed since my early middle school introduction, during rock's 'Golden Age'. Their style sets this band apart from its peers.

So let's dig into 'Fanfare and Fantasy'

'Fanfare for the Broken Hearted', opens unlike the first track on "Disobey", with less of a…well…fanfare. Joe opens brilliantly by posing a question instead, "Please don't mind me asking if it's all the same. To me it's my life to you it's a game", set to soft but powerful piano. Then, they proceed into some mesmerizing percussion effects, reminiscent of some of my favorite Unitopian 'Garden', moments, followed by lightning fast guitar licks, solid bass, striking drums, with that piano intertwining its melody deep within the soundscape. Then Joe returns with, "Cast your sorrows on the water of despair. Plant your hopes upon the ground. Let it grow and flower into the garden of your mind". Later, he adds, "And it peaks to your horizon, I can see into your heart. I can feel a strong connection that can never break apart. Another time and place. I step out of this dream". "We are masters of existence we consume the rising sun". Yes, epic writing and lyrics for an over 9 minute track that bolts from the gate to get this party started. The music as always is top notch leaving you with melodies that you will hum through your mind long after the track ends. (Just like they used to when I was a kid). The almost Al Stewart level acoustic guitar trying to be heard above the roar of power, near the end, is excellent and would have been a wonderful way to close out the song. But the slashing electric guitar solo that closes is amazing enough.

"Something She Said" opens with more of an instrumental fanfare. And oh what a nice start. Keyboards, bass, drums, and electric lead guitar weaving sharp melody with that backing choir-like vocal effect filling the soundscape. The electric guitar solos ring out with power as that wonderful melotron-like keyboard sound fills the room. Then Joe, "I looked across the mirror for an answer to a prayer, and all I saw reflecting was a vacant stare". "The Prince had all but left me, (see the last album's final track for more info), and the King was all but dead". "The victims of reality they hide so deep inside my head". True poetry in musical motion. But it's that melotron sound that just dances so perfectly like all the songs I remember from the past. Not to be outdone by the higher pitched keyboards that follow. Keyboards and melotron flowing like ocean waves…forward and then back. Set in time to solid bass, lead electric and well-paced drums. Then the stellar moment of solo piano in the mid-section that just makes you beg for more. Followed by lead electric guitar falling like a soft rain upon the melotron as it plays its solid melody. Yah…I think I like this album…a whole lot. ;^)

'In a Lifetime'. When I first saw the track title, the first thing that came to mind was the Bono/Clannad duet. But this is a powerful track full of thundering lead electric guitar, bass, and pounding drums, keys and tambourine. Joe delivers a strong message about the need to be heard and more importantly understood. "Maybe now I'll have the time to see what I don't need. Maybe now I'll get to find out who I am. Wave goodbye to all the hollow friends and vested interests". "Sharing skin and all the baggage therein". Yes, and then follow that up with a dynamic lead electric guitar solo as a chaser that washes away all the regret. "Maybe now I'll find a way into the future. Maybe now I'll find my way back home. Now the time has come to blow out all the deadwood. See how our problems sometimes set us free". Follow all this with some excellent Genesis level keyboards and lead electric guitar reminiscent of "Trick" and some of their classic albums and yes, guys…you've penned another winner.

'Going for a Song', opens with an excellent guitar solo. Then Joe, " You waken late you hav'nt shaved. Sleep still in your eyes. You reach out for the time". Soft string and key sections welcome you to the dawn before a rapid motion keyboard rhythm and melody sets the soundscape on fire with emotion. Some of the best keyboard soloing on the album ensues as lead guitar, bass, and drums fill the gaps and tie the sound together. The kind of keyboard extravaganzas you remember from youth. All that you can say as a listener is…a big…thank you. Not 'Going for the One'…'Going for a Song', and this is a keyboard masterpiece.

'Merry Dance' is just as the title promises, a keyboard dance from the opening that will entrance you immediately. The bass, lead guitar and drums set a great pace as the song develops, right before the wonderful piano – like keys unfold. The launching guitar solos fill the air bringing back haunting memories of past masters. "We live for the merry dance. In a life that's nothing more than chance". And so…my friend…the dance goes on.

'The Cause' storms through the gates with power lead electric, followed by haunting and then surrounding keyboards. That ping of the piano has a finality to it that helps define where this track is going. This is the second longest track and one of the most powerful, lyrically, on the album. The slow acoustic guitar, then electric plows through the surrounding keyboards, rollicking bass, and spirited drums. Then Joe, "Misty eyed and sentimental singing songs of martyrdom…ancient songs that tug at the heart". "There has to be a reason for 'The Cause'. The power and majesty of the best of Neo – Prog shouting out like a symphony Maximus. Yes, this is what is missing from prog. The majestic power and glory of the past, re-born with new lyrics and stories.

'Times Motet and Galliard' continues the majestic flow with brilliant keyboards and a choir –like opening. You almost feel like you are at the royal wedding or a formal affair. Memories of early Genesis, then Yes with its pipe organ sound...fills the room. Utterly fantastic. Pomp, full of overwhelming emotion that will rivet you to the chair and secure your love for this album if you are a fan of the keyboards. And that is just the first half of this over eight minute masterpiece. Then Joe delves into the Jon Anderson realm with some excellent vocal rounds. That section is followed by a wonderful trip back to the grandeur of sound familiar in classics like 'Grand Hotel', one of Procol Harum's best albums. This will only wet the whistle for what comes next.

'Remembrance' will immerse you in memories of the opening of Procol Harum's 'A Salty Dog'. It is full of that unforgettable piano. But after the short intro you are gently brought forward into the future with CoE's own signature guitar and keyboard sound surrounding Joe's vocals, "Take me back in time to live again. Those days of innocence…that good intent". "And though it was so very long ago". "I'm there…still there". (Me too, and it feels good to be back!). "A poet has to be in love with love". "And climb to the mysteries of sunsets". Yes…the best lyrics on the album. The launching guitars will tug at you as the keyboards weave their mystical webs. Excellent. "I have been here before". Yes…and with Comedy of Errors…you can return to find the place different, but familiar.

'The Answer' opens with the best melotronic keyboard attack yet. It will take you immediately back to the glory days of 'Foxtrot' and 'Nursery Cryme'. Ah what the heck…breath deep the gathering keyboard orchestrations and savor the ear's satisfaction. But there is still plenty of soaring electric guitar left in this flight. Later, Joe challenges Jon Anderson's vocal acumen, while an almost 'Supper's Ready' ensemble of melotron and keyboard sounds compete with guitar and drums of thunder…heading towards a climax. "I live there…I die there...for there I exist". "Leaving 9 to 5 behind". "For it's this that's real…and this…is not a dream". Amen brother. Guitar solo…

This will definitely be at or near the top of the list of albums of the year when the list is written. Excellent music, filled with emotion and the best keyboard work of the year so far. Every trip back in time with this band is worth the journey. Because like Italy's 'The Watch', it is also a journey to where the music of my youth may have gone, if not interrupted. This band understands the spirit of the music of that time and they know well, how to bring that sound and style into the present and future, with care and understanding, like no other band recording or performing.

Do yourself a favor and climb on board this train now and then go back and get their last album, "Disobey". You will be that much better for the journey and the emotional adventure.

Track Listing:

1. Fanfare for the Broken Hearted
2. Something She Said
3. In a Lifetime
4. Going for a Song
5. Merry Dance
6. The Cause
7. Time's Motet and Galliard
8. Remembrance
9. The Answer

Added: April 13th 2013
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link:
Hits: 6504
Language: english

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