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Gray, William: Living Fossils

Ambitious, carefully constructed and flawless in execution, Living Fossils does an excellent job of updating the canon of orchestral and ensemble-inflected progressive music. Built, of course, around guitars, the music gratefully stretches past those confines as it moves from the familiar rock instrumentation over to chamber ensembles and even choral passages, intoning a sense of depth, contrast and shading across its 15 tracks. Originating in Buenos Aires, the vocal tracks are sung in English and seem to be stitched together in some light rock opera storyline that is illustrated in a graphic novel style by the booklet/cover. Perhaps the story is more accessible in its native language than the sometimes odd and opaque English ("...the womb of blunt farewell", for example) but the lyrics orbit the still shopworn and Roman Numeral'd holdouts of good ol' dualism – my good parts grappling with my bad parts leading to some foggy redemption or darkish denouement. History names a number of William Grays: merchants; politicians; a hurricane expert; ballplayer; and U.S. Congressman but the bet here would be on the occultist who founded the Sangreal (Holy Grail) Sodality – after all, our hero ends up sitting in the pews of an empty-but-for-one church.

These at times strenuous narrative pressures do not overwhelm what is some fine music. The real strength here lies in the instrumental passages and tracks which evoke some of the clever and compelling staccato rhythmic foundations practiced to such dazzling levels of purposeful imprecision by Messrs. Wetton and Bruford during early UK, though lacking the swing those two put into it. The melodic, rhythmic and structural elements of Living Fossils do perhaps suffer from some too-pristine overprecision that now and again restrains the music within the completely and obviously conscious, making it unable to yet reach past that liminal threshold to actually be in the blood (sang). But it's convincing work all the same, and avoids the many and dangerous clichés of the form to offer something promising for anyone drawn to the rock opera side of suite-shaped progressive music.

Track Listing
1) Intro
2) Darkest Side
3) Procession I
4) Fading Points
5) Broken Minstrel
6) Introspection
7) Urban Battle I
8) Eye in the Hole
9) Dragonfly
10) Sadness
11) Urban Battle II
12) Interludio
13) Urban Battle III
14) Procession II
15) Awareness
16) Urban Battle I Tango Version

Added: January 2nd 2007
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 2155
Language: english

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