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Broken Parachute: Living Dangerously

Having been pretty much toppled sideways by his recent solo venture, Patchwork Cacophony, the opportunity to give a detailed listen to the latest project from Ben Bell, a keyboard player who is also a recent addition to Gandalf’s Fist, was simply too good to turn down. And that is exactly how things have turned out, the quality of this collaboration between Bell and Marcus Taylor (guitars/bass/percussion) under the rather unusual banner of Broken Parachute, a sumptuous prog amalgam. The blurb from the pair gives an idea of what we can expect, asking ‘What would happen if Deep Purple and Yes had an illicit encounter under a Porcupine Tree???’ So undoubtedly that was the intention - and who am I to suggest otherwise? However….

Well, I personally can’t find much, if any, influence from Steven Wilson or Richard Barbieri and while there are undoubtedly a few Hammond hammerings, well, there’s not enough rock in this prog to really take you to deep into purple territory. Where we do agree, however, is that Taylor does enjoy a tone and fret-flow similar to the staccato fluidity of Steve Howe, but for me the influence list runs much wider but maybe in a narrower stream. The gang vocal and relaxed urgency of “Devils”, which reveals an eye for topical lyrics that never overbear, for me shines a light on one of the strongest musical motivators here, The Tangent. That band’s storytelling style strongly hinted at in both the keyboard led passages and the guitar work, with “Fire” continuing down the same reflective, if somewhat livelier path. Although “Bad Politics” possesses no apologies for its Yes like guitar-key-drum frolics and very good it is too.

The languid “Ghost” adds a dreamier feel where the layers of keys are encouraged to gently take centre stage, although you know Taylor’s sharp lead lines will never be slow in adding a different dimension. Vocally Bell is accomplished and varied in attack, moving the storytelling style to something much more James Labrie like on the slower “Limits”, where the bulging bass line also hints in that direction. With the album’s title track tightly constructed, but in a more bullish way, and “Masterframe” a little more light on its feet, the clever changing of dynamics continually draws you in and a very Howe like guitar solo on the latter doesn’t hurt either. However, if there’s one feature across this twelve track excursions, it’s one of full collaboration, where egos and agendas have been completely moved to one side to ensure each song shines. And that goes for the sub-minute “Surprises” just as strongly as it does for the longer “Tempest” and “Lines”.

No matter what they, or I, say they sound like, Broken Parachute, contrary to their name, ensure an extremely safe journey and a controlled landing in their world of classily constructed prog. Hopefully the pair aren’t Living Dangerously for too long and that a follow up won’t be too slow in descending to earth.

Track Listing
1. Surprises
2. Lines
3. Masterframe
4. Limits
5. Devils
6. Ghost
7. Tempest
8. Living Dangerously
9. Light
10. Bad Politics
11. Fire

Added: May 25th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Broken Parachute online
Hits: 374
Language: english

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