Funny - the title track is one of the shortest pieces on the record, at just
three-and-a-bit minutes. It starts as a hard instrumental rocker, then develops
into a vocal-driven piece that would have been at home on the stage of Woodstock
'69. More important - that song is representative of the rest of the music on
the CD, and it heralds the direction that Chris Gill has chosen to take his
Band Of Rain used to be a spacey, ethereal outfit, somewhat typical of
one-man projects. Pleasing music but somewhat unsubstantial. The new record is
different: Gutsy, fronted by a powerful female vocalist, and bordering on a goth-rock
sound. Think Pink Floyd meets Heart.
New singer Sharon Leslie has stamped her authority on Arts And Allurements.
Remember the new vocalist for Flamborough Head, Margriet Boonsma? The singing is
similar to her timbre - not much range, it even gets a bit gruff in places, but
it's a wonderfully strong low-register contralto, melodic, and played through
just enough reverb to make it rich and appealing. Think modern-era Porcupine
Tree fronted by Lana Lane singing in her lower ranges.
But is isn't all about the vocals. Chris Gill has injected a heavy dose of
testosterone into this album. Listen to "Monument", the 9-1/2 minute mini-epic.
It has a constantly shifting structure, heavy in parts, restless, and led by
those appealing vocals and strong but lazy guitar work played over an insistent,
dynamic rhythm. Even the fast sections of the long guitar solo toward the end
somehow seem languid.
There's a sort of Floydian vibe to this music. It doesn't sound like Pink
Floyd, but it fits into that general mold: Clean instrumentation that runs from
hard-rocking to lazy and ambient, nicely played, some electronica - but not too
much, not enormously complex but with song structures that constantly shift and
develop over the length of each track. Progressive tendencies, bordering on
Band Of Rain has progressed beyond a man with a studio and an idea to a band
with a mission and the balls to achieve it. The new direction is pleasing, and
it will be rewarding to watch where they go from here - 'cuz you can be sure the
next record won't be anything like this one. This is nod-your-head, tune-in,
zone-out stuff that insists on multiple replays.
1. Their Mistake
2. The Devil's Debts
3. Stars Beneath The Sea
6. Arts & Allurements
7. The Innocence