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Days Between Stations: In Extremis

For their sophomore release, Days Between Stations enlisted a guest list of musicians which is one of the best of 2013, so far. In Extremis, (the Latin translation is 'In extremity' A term used in reference to the last illness prior to death), features such talent as: Colin Moulding, (XTC), Rick Wakeman, (YES), Peter Banks, (YES/Flash), Tony Levin, (King Crimson/Peter Gabriel), and Billy Sherwood, (YES/CIRCA. This is one of the final albums the legendary Peter Banks performed on, and his lead & rhythm guitar on "Eggshell Man" and "In Extremis" are definitely album highlights.

In Extremis is full of highpoints and virtuoso playing from all members included. Right from the album opener, "No Cause for Alarm", a rousing keyboard and orchestrated overture, you get a sense of the epic nature of this production. Oscar Fuentes Bills' piano and synthesizers dominate the soundscape creating and almost motion picture level performance. Sepand Samzadeh's rhythm guitar paints a thoughtful picture within the composition. Tony Levin's double bass helps balance the sound well. Billy Sherwood handles the dramatic sweeping drum assault as the Angel City Orchestra fills the empty spaces.

"In Utero" features more of Bills' soft piano and synthesizers as Josh Humphrey adds keyboard effects and textures taking the opening over the top with emotion. Sepand Samzadeh's lead guitar riffs and soaring chords help create dramatic images, while Levin's deep bass notes help balance the sound well. The Angel City Brass Section joins in later to take this instrumental to cloud heights full of city lights.

"Visionary" opens full of interesting piano and synthesizers from Bills and excellently placed electronic drums & programming from Josh Humphrey. Almost sounds like a second opening to the album. Samzadeh's interesting lap steel and lead guitar soars over the experience providing an otherworldly sound to accent the album. Levin's stick and bass anchor the production well. Billy Sherwood's vocals lay out the story in a similar way to one of his Circa songs. Sherwood also provides powerful drums which help fire strength into the surrounding keyboard dominated soundscape. Chris Tedesco's trumpet solo is the perfect addition, along with the support of the Angel City Brass Section who join in to fill the composition with powerful horns. Matt Bradford's dobro closes out the track providing more interesting chords and sounds for the mix.

"Blackfoot" features Bills' playing some extraordinary instruments including: Rhodes, Mellotron, Hammond organ, synthesizers and piano. All of this virtuoso playing is augmented well with Samzadeh's launching and soaring lead electric guitar, rhythm guitar, and interesting guitar textures that will have your ears enthralled, especially with the slide guitar solo. Over ten minutes of virtuoso playing stabilized by Levin's bass and stick solo. Sherwood's drums providing the perfect rhythm.

"The Man Who Died Two Times" is full of Colin Moulding's lead vocals, which bring back memories of both Yes and Circa, surrounded by Sherwood's backing vocals. Bill's synthesizers take you back in time to the '70s classics like Genesis and Yes. Samzadeh's solid rhythm guitar and Levin's bass work in tandem to help fill the air with electricity as Sherwood sets the pace on drums.

"Waltz in E Min" is a wonderful track dedicated to Peter Banks, featuring the Angel City String Quartet.

"Eggshell Man" is an epic track at 11:56 that prepares you well for the final closer to follow. This is a wonderful send off salute to Peter Banks, and it's his guitar textures and rhythm guitar along with Rick Wakeman's Minimoog solo and Bills' piano, Rhodes, Mellotron, and synthesizers that open this musical experience. Wonderful and dreamy rhythm as Sherwood's vocals quietly and calmly unfolds the story. Samzadeh's rhythm and acoustic guitar helps add even more decorated sound to this extravagant production. A sound which will remind many of the Collins' Era of Genesis mixed well with some of Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford's post Genesis solo work. Wakeman's Mellotron flute and keyboard work will stun and amaze as he always does. Ali Nouri's Tar solo, and the impending drama will bring back memories of the lead up to the close of "Supper's Ready". Excellent.

"In Extremis" is a six part, over 21 minute, mini-symphony. It is the "money" or epic closing track on the album, and it lives up to its billing. "Part I: Mass", opens with bells and synths along with Sherwood's backing vocals, creating a sad, quiet and stoic opening.

"Part II: On The Ground" continues the slow dirge like feeling, set to soft keyboard rhythms and Sherwood's vocals, "Looking down, shadows dancing on the ground. No one's here. The memories play and then disappear". Yes that kind of lament feeling flows throughout this track.

Sherwood opens "Part III: A Requiem" singing, "Summer's gone. Mother's gone. Hide away your denial. Growing old. Growing cold. Seems the key to your survival", as launching guitars and quiet keys play.

"Part IV: Writing On Water" is a keyboard and synthesizer instrumental full of dramatic highs and lows and some stellar lead electric guitar to boot.

"Part V: Overland" is another instrumental full of Mellotron loops and Hackett like lead electric guitar playing. It will take you back to the heyday of Collins Era Genesis sounds, no doubt.

"Part VI: It Never Ends" closes the epic track with more of Sherwood's vocals completing the story amidst clever keys and brilliant guitar work.

This was an excellent surprise to receive as almost everything with Billy Sherwood's name on it is golden. The fact that Rick Wakeman, Tony Levin and Peter Banks help create this majestic piece of symphonic prog only made this a stronger contender for prog album of the year. The artwork & layout from Paul Whitehead definitely captures the mood and spirit of the music. This is the kind of music you will remember if you grew up in the 60s and 70s and are increasingly finding it harder to locate. Pick up this highlight of 2013's best progressive rock for your collection.

Track Listing:

1. No Cause for Alarm (Overture)
2. In Utero
3. Visionary
4. Blackfoot
5. The Man Who Died Two Times
6. Waltz in E Minor
7. Eggshell Man
8. In Extremis
a. Part I - Mass
b. Part II On the Ground
c. Part III A Requiem
d. Part IV Writing on the Water
e. Part V Overland
f. Part VI It Never Ends

Added: July 10th 2013
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link:
Hits: 2424
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Days Between Stations: In Extremis
Posted by Douglas Kostelnik on 2013-07-11 18:58:33
My Score:

This is definitely my favorite album of 2013! I was a huge fan of the first album and this one is even better, by multitudes. I got it as soon as it was available and have it on constant rotation. It is so diverse and well produced with seemingly infinite nuances. Every track is marvelous and unique.

I can't strongly enough express how excellent this album is. Buy it and you will be very happy you did.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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