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Vast Conduit: Always Be There

I am sure many of you are familiar with the name Bill Jenkins (keyboardist for US prog bands Enchant and Thought Chamber), and now his most recent project Vast Conduit. Joining Jenkins are:

Michael Harris (Thought Chamber) - guitar
Will Jenkins (Ghost and the City, Great Wall) - drums
Friel - lead vocals
Jeff Plant (Thought Chamber) - bass guitar
Jim Hurley - violin
Tom Abraira - trumpet on “Philly Etymology”
Bert Lams - acoustic guitar on “Early Eclipse”
Manon Roem - vocals on “Barrier”
Betsy Walter - vocals on “Early Eclipse”

The album’s main theme is all about relationships, particularly those between a parent and a child, which need to be cherished and never taken for granted. This is a lifelong process and of great importance to a life well lived. Of course, life provides many obstacles that must be overcome in order to achieve this goal. This seems to be a deeply personal album for Jenkins but I think the overall concept could appeal to anyone with depth of feeling.

The album opens with the fantastic prog rock opus “Barrier”, where the band pull out all the stops. A myriad of keyboards sets the mood before the mid tempo groove sets the pace as Plant’s bass playing is in a word, wonderful. The complex vocal arrangement recalls Gentle Giant, maybe even a little Yes, and the musical chops on display is considerable, yet the band never sound like they overplay, or worse, showing off. There is so much nuance on display and even when the music sounds smooth, there is an incredible depth to their playing. Next is the rousing instrumental “Soul Tuck” featuring more fantastic musicianship with hints of prog fusion. The playing is fast, then everything stops to make room for Jenkins’ melodic piano work before another great build leading to ripping guitar work and an awesome rhythm section. Jaw dropping musicianship from every band member. A rolling piano begins “Always Be There”, followed by catchy guitar riffs and lead vocals. The lyrics convey the album’s theme, very meaningful and from the heart. Besides the wonderful guitar and keyboard solos the band weave introspection and nuance into the soundscape, with so much care and attention to detail. The balladic and moody “Endless Days” is very pretty with its emotive lead guitar, lush vocal harmonies, and an exquisite violin solo from Hurley. The lyrics are a little sad, although there is a light shining in the distance. With the instrumental “Too Busy” the band adds a little funk to their irresistible brand of fusion, very quirky and fun to say the least. I could go on, but I think I made my point.

With eleven fine tracks to explore, Vast Conduit have really nailed it with Always Be There. Another excellent, relatively new band with a great future ahead of them. I will be awaiting their next album with bated breath. Easily recommended!

Track Listing:
1. Barrier (6:22)
2. Soul Tuck (5:10)
3. Always Be There (5:49)
4. Endless Days (6:40)
5. Too Busy (5:45)
6. Odessa (5:56)
7. 500 Miles (4:44)
8. Philly Etymology (5:39)
9. Early Eclipse (6:59)
10. Of A Feather (5:01)
11. Wesley Save Us (4:31)

Added: February 22nd 2023
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 183
Language: english

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