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Echolyn: Stars and Gardens-Volume 4 (DVD)

Here's a virtual treasure chest of goodies from one of the best of the current crop of American prog bands, that being Pennsylvania's Echolyn. This 2 DVD set contains hours of quirky and intelligent progressive music, and is a set that every Echolyn fan will want in their collection. The first disc contains a full concert from the Sellersville Theater in PA, recorded May 25, 2003, and the second is chock full of vintage studio and rehearsal footage, interviews, and audio commentary.

The Sellersville Theater gig is pretty magical, as the band was in good spirits and obviously having a great time, playing their asses off and interacting well with the crowd. The band kicks off with a couple of tunes from Cowboy Poems Free, namely "Texas Dust" and "Swingin' The Axe", the former a quirky number that features some monstrous guitar tones from Brett Kull, and the latter sees the guitarist churning out massive waves of distorted pedal steel licks. During these two tracks, Ray Weston takes the bass role while Tom Hyatt, who recently came back into the fold, keeps himself busy on congas & percussion. Throughout the set the two alternate bass duties, depending on the material being played (Ray handles most of the more recent songs while Tom performs the older pieces.) That being said, Hyatt takes over for the Echolyn classics like "The Cheese Stands Alone", the Gentle Giant influenced "A Little Nonsense", and the prog-rock opus "As the World", which is also noteworthy for the addition of older footage of the band performing this song that is edited in throughout the live track. It gives you a nice "before and after" effect that shows that the band really wanted to go the extra mile with this DVD. Other highlights include the melodic "1729 Broadway", the tender "Never the Same", and the entire "Mei" epic, complete with a mini chamber orchestra playing flute, clarinet, violins, cello, and percussion. It's a very adventurous undertaking performing this song in its entirety, as it clocks in at just about 50 minutes, but the band pulls it off marvelously.

The second DVD features loads of archival material, including studio and rehearsal footage from the bands entire career, as well as interviews with the band members where they talk about their formation, recording of each album, the breakup of the band, and the reformation. Perhaps the most enjoyable part though is the audio commentary of the band while numerous rehearsal & studio footage is being shown. The guys obviously had a blast sitting together and watching this material together for probably the first time in years, and hearing them bust on each other about wardrobe selection, hair styles, song structures, and other meaningless tidbits, shows their human side and really lets the audience know that Echolyn doesn't take themselves too seriously and are still having fun with what they are doing. The band gives some great insight into the writing and production of each album, so for the Echolyn enthusiast this is must hear commentary. My only gripe is that occasionally the music in the background is a bit too loud and makes hearing certain parts of the interviews a chore.

Simply stated, Stars and Gardens-Volume 4 is a must have for your DVD collection. It's wonderfully shot, edited, and presented, by a classy band who obviously really wanted to give something special back to the fans who have stuck with them for so long.

Track List
1. Texas Dust
2. Swingin' the Axe
3. The Cheese Stands Alone
4. A Little Nonsense
5. 1729 Broadway
6. My Dear Wormwood
7. As The World
8. Brittany
9. Never The Same (music video)
10. Mei
11. Shades
12. Interview - Beginnings
13. Interview - Debut
14. Interview - Shades
15. Interview - Suffocating
16. Interview - Sentimental Chain
17. Interview - Nonsense
18. Interview - Memoirs
19. Interview - Cannon
20. Interview - Blossom
21. Interview - Sony
22. Interview - Making ATW
23. Interview - Break Up
24. Interview - CPF
25. Interview - 1729
26. Interview - Mei

Added: October 14th 2004
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Echolyn's Official Website
Hits: 6635
Language: english

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