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Rothery, Steve: The Ghosts of Pripyat

Though I've been a longtime follower & fan of Marillion, I've admittedly also been one of their harshest critics over the last decade or so. The bands music, and much of the solo work and other projects from the members, has done little to move me one way or another. However, for the first time in many years, I'm pretty excited about something from the Marillion camp. The Ghosts of Pripyat is the latest solo album from guitarist Steve Rothery, and features his band Dave Foster (Guitars), Yatim Halimi (Bass), Leon Parr (Drums), and Riccardo Romano (Keyboards), plus guest stars Steve Hackett & Steven Wilson. Seven instrumental tracks in total, filled with lush arrangements, breezy melodies, and some sensational guitar playing, signal the return to progressive rock for Mr. Rothery, and it's about time.

"Morpheus" kicks things off in grand fashion, a haunting slice of prog complete with majestic keyboards and plenty of tasty guitar soloing. "Kendris" has a wealth of lush acoustic guitar tones to go along with alluring rhythms, floating keys, and emotional lead guitar. The third track "Old Man of the Sea" clocks in at nearly 12-minutes, and sees Rothery, Hackett, and Wilson contributing some incredible guitar solos over atmospheric arrangements. Genesis and Pink Floyd fans will certainly get a lot of mileage out of this tremendous song. "White Pass" shifts gears for some ethnic sounds with a jazzy flair, complete with some heartfelt soloing from Rothery, and the tender "Yesterday's Hero" features Steve's deft acoustic & electric melodies for one of the albums most touching moments. The guitarist does a great job creating the feel of a warm summer day on the gentle "Summer's End", again successfully utilizing acoustic & electric tones before delivering a scorching solo near the climax. The album closes with the pastoral title track, a richly textured piece that brings together folk & prog, with layers of guitars, organ, and synths. It's easily another highlight on an album full of highlights.

As wonderful as The Ghosts of Pripyat is, one can only hope Steve Rothery brings some of this creativity to the next Marillion album, but if not, solo records like this one will be more than welcome any time.


Track Listing
1. Morpheus 07:55
2. Kendris 06:09
3. Old Man of the Sea 11:42
4.White Pass 07:51
5. Yesterday's Hero 07:21
6. Summer's End 08:47
7. The Ghosts of Pripyat 05:32

Added: May 18th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
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Rothery, Steve: The Ghosts of Pripyat
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-05-18 23:59:46
My Score:

Steve Rothery founded the seminal progressive rock band Marillion in 1979 and ever since fans of the band have waited patiently for a solo album from this exceptional guitarist. The wait was finally over in 2014 with the release of The Ghosts Of Pripyat on InsideOut Music.

Rothery has gathered together a fine group of musicians including Dave Foster (Mr. So & So) on guitars, Yatim Halimi (Panic Room) on bass, Riccardo Romano (Ranestrane) on keyboards and Leon Parr on drums.

With this being an instrumental album there is really nothing to get in the way of Rothery's playing and he lays down some gorgeous licks throughout the album. The first track "Morpheus", reminding me Floyd's Endless River, is a gorgeous slice of atmospheric progressive rock where Rothery's guitar playing is absolutely sublime. Such a great flow to this one and when the playing becomes more forceful it is a shiver inducing moment. The reflective "Kendris" has an irresistible chord progression and subtle keyboard textures while "Old Man Of The Sea", featuring Steve Hackett and Steven Wilson, has great guitar work coursing through its eleven plus minutes. From its gentle arpeggiated beginning to soaring melodic leads adding just a hint of sorrow, this has to be one of the album's best tracks. The entire band absolutely cooks near song's end. The ethereal "White Pass" has more Floyd-like moments in both keys and guitar. At the half way point the music becomes much heavier with big organ sounds and intense guitar explorations. In contrast, "Yesterday's Hero" and "Summer's End" are as wistful and dreamy as the album gets, with the latter eventually breaking into some heavier moments of raging organ and ripping guitar leads.

If I would have listened to this one sooner it certainly would have made my top ten of 2014. As it stands, I cannot recommend this album enough, not just to guitar fans but to all lovers of atmospheric and majestic instrumental prog. Absolutely stunning!


Rothery, Steve: The Ghosts of Pripyat
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-02-21 15:30:02
My Score:

Considering how free and easy his band mates have been in recent times towards outside collaborations, it is amazing that thirty two years into his career as a musician, Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery finally delivers his first solo studio album. Hot on the heels of the Live In Rome double discer, where much of this album was previewed, The Ghosts Of Pripyat arrives full of promise. Much, if not all, of which it delivers on.

Interestingly the seven meandering tracks on display offer both some extremely obvious Rothery motifs and emotions, yet there's more than enough to leave you in no doubt that this is a musician reaching out and finding a different place from that which he usually resides. At times a bluesy feel is revealed and at others a more riff heavy approach than you might expect. Yes, you'll have to have an interest in guitar instrumental albums to fully engage with this vocal less workout, however on that front there's enough here to delight Marillionites and those with more interest in classy, effortless guitar playing no matter the source. And that's the key here, for Ghosts certainly sounds like Steve Rothery, but it doesn't simply sound like "that guy from Marillion".

The lengthy "Old Man Of The Sea" begins in one of the more obvious Marillion moments, a Brave like feel interrupted by an almost accordion motif, before the song slowly builds into a Progressive masterpiece of restraint and exuberance. Steve Hackett, who seems to be everywhere these days, turns in an exceptional guest slot on this song (as he does the opening "Morpheus"), while the Prog quotient is upped further through a trademark solo from none other than Steven Wilson. However the song and indeed the album thrives on the music itself, the cameos merely adding sparkle to an already illuminating collection.

"White Pass" finds Rothery in languid mood, oozing up and down the fret board, allowing the keyboards of Riccardo Romano to have as strong a say in the music's outcome as the guitarist himself. However with a train-like shuffling beat from drummer Leon Parr driving the song forward, while less "blatant", this song could almost be a reserved offering from Joe Bonamassa! Although not quite. Most of the tracks begin slowly, introspection the emotion evoked and in "Yesterday's Heroes" that theme is at its peak, the clear tones from Rothery and his co-guitarist Dave Foster absolutely captivating. Yatim Halimi augments things perfectly with unobtrusive but vital bass insertions, the combining contradiction he offers somehow raising the seductive guitar tones further. While the closing title-cut begins beautifully, acoustic duelled picking ringing like a bell. This doesn't just give way, but stops completely to introduce a brisk riff and almost aggressive jostle to another shuffling beat. This is Rothery getting down and dirty and man does he do it well!

Thankfully, while I can whole heartedly recommend this album to Marillon fans around the world The Ghosts Of Pripyat is so much more than just a curio for the committed. Instead this album is the musings of a great and sometimes underrated guitar talent set free. Not to stupefy with technique and flash but to stretch out an established sound and approach into so much more. Taking the listener on seven different and distinct journeys that all reach divergent emotional conclusions, but which come together to make a rather special album.



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