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New Dance Orchestra: Electronica

Well, this one is a bit of an oddity. Two respected members of the Prog scene come together to make a Dance/Pop album that sounds somewhere between 80s Disco, standard Dance music and some of Madonna's less straight ahead work.

Combining the talent of Yes/Asia/Buggles man Geoff Downes and Karnataka/Mostly Autumn/Panic Room frontlady Anne-Marie Helder, the pair initially made Electronica by New Dance Orchestra available at live shows only. However with interest in the project growing, the album now gets a full release. For many the musical departure from the pair will be a bit of a shock, but with the style of what's on offer here well documented, the question really has to be do they do it well?

Downes handles all the instrumentation on the album, creating the melodies, rhythms and sounds, allowing Helder to give an expansive performance far removed from what we've come to expect from this talented lady. That she pulls it off with the understated style that she does here is testament to her vocal talent and versatility. Where things are let down a little though is the dated nature of much of what Downes has constructed, with even a non-Dance expert like myself finding what's contained here to be far from cutting edge dance floor stuff, or current chart fodder. Possibly that wasn't the intention, but in the end the likes of "Forgiven" comes across like some strange amalgam of Madonna and Enya, with Pop beats thumping in the foreground as Helder lays down a sweet, even, reserved vocal. "Movin' On" ups the tempo, effects and sounds swirling, while "Jinx" adds an eerie melody over a solid stomp of a beat. Again Helder shines, her voice positively mesmerising and raising simple ideas far beyond their station, before "Golden Day" reins everything in, the beat thankfully more subdued, yet somehow the results are even less effective.

In the end what Downes and Helder have created here is a decent, if unspectacular, diversion from the "day catalogue" and possibly more an exercise in artistic fulfilment than a stab at widening their audience. For fans of their more celebrated work, what New Dance Orchestra stand for may be just a little too left field, while for true Dance aficionados, I can't help but feel that Electronica will be a little too tame and twee. In the end this is an album for fans only and even then, it won't be one that gains a huge amount of play time.

Track Listing
1. Shine On
2. Forgiven
3. Movin' On
4. Rainbow's End
5. Breaking The Spell
6. Love Is Not Enough
7. Jinx
8. Hanging By A Thread
9. Remember The Day
10. Dance To The Music Of Time
11. Walking Through The Fire
12. Golden Days

Added: March 13th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: New Dance Orchestra Online
Hits: 1720
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

New Dance Orchestra: Electronica
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-03-13 18:58:57
My Score:

Geoff Downes (Yes, Asia) and Anne-Marie Helder (Mostly Autumn, Panic Room) have gotten together to create an album that may surprise a lot of people. Whether you will enjoy it or not is another question entirely. Their project is called New Dance Orchestra and the album in question is titled Electronica. In this case the title says it all. Perhaps one shouldn't be that surprised...anyone remember The Buggles? Well, Euro pop of the '80s is back in a big way with this album as it's filled with electronic drum beats and synthesized percussion. It all has a heavily programmed glossy sheen, courtesy of Mr. Downes and for a dance album it succeeds pretty well. It should also come as no surprise the vocals of Anne-Marie Helder are superb. Definitely one of my favourite female voices in rock right now.

The album never strays too far from the pop/dance music path and is very upbeat and easy on the ears. Challenging music this is not. The tempo stays pretty much the same in most of the tracks although it does slow down for a few ballads like the nostalgic sounding "Rainbow's End" and the album ending "Golden Days", both highlighted by Helder's angelic vocals. A few of the tracks could do well in the pop charts if given half the chance and I wish both artists success with this release.

If you had visions of this being a prog album you will be vastly disappointed. However, if you still enjoy bands like latter day ELO and The Human League you might like this album. To be played at your next dance party.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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