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RAIN: Cerulian Blue

Cerulean Blue is refreshingly unusual. Not so much in its music, but in the storyline, the way it's told, the way it's distributed – and particularly, the impact it has on the listener.

It's a concept album that tells the story of an older man following in the footsteps of a lost young friend in his trek across America. It is narrated in vignettes telling interesting little tales of fascinating people – and you almost feel you're paging through a year's worth of National Geographics. Those spoken vocals introduce each song, accompanied by strains of a string quartet, and are recitations of postcards sent to his young friend. And each postcard ends with a heartfelt "…wish you were here". It tugs at the heartstrings, especially when you come to understand at the end of the record who the young man really is.

Spoken vocals in progressive music aren't unique – it's vaguely similar to some 1970s LPs like Rick Wakeman's Journey... and Richard Harris's The Prophet, and even recent Ayreon CDs use this technique. The narrator is Rob Brown, known for his BBC presentation of the Cantebury Tales. His diction is good and will sound like perfect Queen's English to international audiences. His relaxed and husky delivery is pleasing, and although narrated vocals always get old after a while, this one has far more staying power than you might expect.

At first listen the music comes across as the filler between the spoken sections, but it is on subsequent spins that the quality comes through. There are no soaring lead guitar solos, no walls of sound, no rock, really. Instead it is strong, ballsy progressive symphonic music, airy and almost spacey in parts, somewhat orchestral sounding, dark and slow, with choir, strings, piano and Hammond. One of the stronger components is the long sax contributions from award-winning jazz saxophonist Iain Ballamy. There isn't much singing – it's in a soft upper mid-range and a bit off pitch in places, but pleasing.

The artist who created this album is just goes by "Rain". He lives in Guildford, England, Genesis's home town. He's come to know several people associated with the band over the years, and draws a few influences and a lot of encouragement from that classic band. Dale Newman, manager of Genesis' Farm Studio and long-time roadie makes a cameo appearance on the album; and their manager Tony Smith has apparently been particularly helpful and supportive. Rain also tells of a voice mail from Phil Collins: "I'm in the car, having just been to the doctors and I'm on my way home via McDonalds and I've just been listening to your track 'Jerusalem' and I've had to pull over, get out the mobile to phone you and tell you how f***ing brilliant it is!" (Apparently he was a little more eloquent afterward, and changed it to "beautiful".) So it comes highly recommended.

Record label Telos Music was formed to support Cerulean Blue, and takes a guerilla approach to its marketing. The entire CD can be legitimately downloaded for free – albeit at a modest 96kbps – and you are encouraged to distribute and copy it. The assumption is that if a large number of people get hold of the free MP3s, and a certain percentage of those people buy the CD for the high quality sound, the booklet, and the bonus DVD material, then sales revenue will follow.

Cerulean Blue is refreshingly unusual. Not so much in its music, but in its total audio/visual and emotional experience.

Track Listing:
The Lammas Lands
Parsifal #1
Parsifal #2
Starcrossed
Light And Magic #1
Light And Magic #2
Jerusalem

Bonus DVD
Ashes

Added: April 20th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Score:
Related Link: Rain's Telos Music Web Site - With free Downloads
Hits: 5175
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

RAIN: Cerulian Blue
Posted by Tom MacMillan on 2005-05-16 14:52:25
My Score:

This is a truly incredible album. The music's not exaclty virtuoso...but Cerulean Blue is unique in that it doesn't need to be. It's progressive rock without the pomposity and all the meat.




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