Dead Air for Radios was released in 1998 after former Dream Theater keyboardist/songwriter Kevin Moore left the band to pursue other projects. After appearing on Fates Warning's ultimate masterpiece A Pleasant Shade of Gray, he began writing and recording his first ever solo album under the Chroma Key moniker. Fates Warning members Mark Zonder and Joey Vera helped him out with the magnificent rhythm section with an unknown guitarist named Jason Anderson (at least he's unknown to me) handling the guitar duties. The result was an extraordinary work of ambient-atmospheric textures you could only expect from someone as profound as Kevin Moore.
I have to admit I am not overly familiar with this type of music but I think Chroma Key sounds like an eerie combination of Pink Floyd's non-prog stuff, Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel. The music presented on this disc is early 80's-synth laden stuff with a lot of spoken parts/dialogues intervening in between, but never taking away from the songs. They serve the purpose of conveying Kevin's lyrical statements. While many Dream Theater fans refer to the music on Chroma Key CDs as a continuation of Moore's song "Space-Dye Vest" on Dream Theater's Awake album, I beg to differ. The songs I heard on the two CK discs I own sound a lot more experimental with less emphasis put on the guitar work. Kevin's vocal melodies are vastly different too, yet his sparse piano themes do run in almost the entire album, so if that's what you're looking for, with an added touch of minimalism, then you will find yourself greatly immersed in this disc. Joey Vera and Mark Zonder feed the craft of the songs giving them a solid vibe. In order to create timeless songs, Kevin doesn't only get his inspiration from serious matters. The lyrics of "Mouse", for example, were inspired by a little mouse Kevin saw at a friend's house. Yet, the song is deep and really dense with great vocals and groovy bass lines. I really like the dynamics of each track on the album.
The songs on the CD run the gamut from post-rock to electronic to ambient. It's all successfully blended thanks to the clever mind of Kevin Moore in the production process. "Colorblind" and "Even the Waves" are perfect choices to set the tone of the album. The tape loop at the beginning of "Even the Waves" is haunting in the truest meaning of the word. Mark Zonder proves to be an intelligent and extremely tasteful drummer once again in the way he utilises his cymbal work. The song also features a guitar 'solo' by Anderson which glues everything together nicely. Without doubt, "Undertow" (co-written by Zonder) and "On the Page" are most CK fans' favourites. The rhytmic, yet almost static, drum beat is played with determination and Kevin's lush piano work has recurring themes. "On the Page" interweaves another 'catchy' vocal melody with deeply searing lyrics ("Life is much more cleaner on the page") and an exceptionally beautiful looped piano theme. "America the Video" and "Camera 4" are Kevin's testimony to electronic music with an eerily 'happy' touch of minimalism. Although Chroma Key is a glimpse into Kevin Moore's inner world, the music offered on this album contains little to no depressing feel. It's so compact and emotionally uplifting that you want to hear it over and over again. I own three solo albums by Kevin: DAFR, You Go Now and the Ghost Book soundtrack, and I think DAFR is the album I've listened to the most so far. The strongest aspect of Kevin Moore, however, is his diversity. You never know what to expect from him. He always gives you something you were unconsciously looking for; he is a genius.
- Even the Waves
- America the Video
- Camera 4
- On the Page
- Mouse (Now Watch What Happens)
- Hell Mary