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North Star: Transcendence

Here is another progressive rock band that has escaped my ears until recently. North Star hail from Pennsylvania and formed all the way back in 1976 although their debut album Triskelion was not released until 1984. Their latest album Transcendence is their sixth overall and apparently their last release according to the press release. The band's drummer Glenn Leonard unfortunately passed away in 2013 and this album was recorded as a tribute to him. Making this album must have been a bittersweet undertaking but I think the band can be proud of what they accomplished. What you will notice almost immediately is the conspicuous absence of drums, a purposeful statement on behalf of the band as a further tribute to their fallen comrade.

The band's influence can be traced back to early Genesis and ELP. The voice of Joe Newnam is definitely from the Gabriel school of vocalists as he has adopted a similar tone and delivery. On this last effort the approach is more subdued which is to be expected given the reason for making the album in the first place. Now, would I have wanted drums? Well, yes but I understand the reason behind it and the players are all fine musicians having honed their craft over decades of playing. The keyboards are really the dominant force behind the album as they provide some truly beautiful melodies sprinkled throughout these fourteen tracks. As demonstrated on much of the album the opening track "Shaman Everywhere" is more restrained with layers of keyboards adding a multitude of textures to go along with Newnam's Gabriel-like lead vocals. Delicate acoustic guitar begins the dreamy "The Red Road" while "Why Go So Soon 1st Movement" is more upbeat with an excellent Gentle Giant inspired vocal arrangement. The shimmering keyboards in "3rd Movement" is another track taken from the page of classic '70s keyboard based prog.

The final track is not a song but a spoken word tribute of remembrance to Leonard by family and friends.

A nice final album by the band, encapsulated with a heartfelt feeling of love and loss, Transcendence, while not a perfect album is one that symphonic keyboard fans should come to appreciate.

I wish the band all the best in their future endeavors.

Track Listing:
1. Shaman Everywhere (4:34)
2. The Red Road (3:50)
3. Why Go So Soon 1st Movement (3:47)
4. 2nd Movement (2:49)
5. 3rd Movement (2:13)
6. Threads Of Light (3:44)
7. September Song (3:33)
8. Le Baton Rouge (4:55)
9. One Door (5:21)
10. Darkness Of Light (3:57)
11. Transcendence (4:41)
12. I'm Not Ready To Be Grateful (1:08)
13. Canon (2:30)
14. Final Word (11:03)

Added: February 21st 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1554
Language: english

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