This album continues the style of Neil's 2004 release Night Sketches with an atmospheric collection of impressionist musical sketches made up of one long suite and 3 separate pieces. Neil is joined on the album by German electro-acoustic composer Michael Beiert and Soprano Anne Taft which makes the album stand apart to a degree to its predecessor. The main suite carries the listener on a haunting journey through from dusk till dawn. Neil is an accomplished classical guitarist who has a tender touch on the instrument and successfully evokes the various moods of evening and night-time reflections and experiences through dreamy sequences and tasteful melodies. Anne Taft's voice is soothing and emotive and comfortably enhances the lyrical guitar as the 30 minute suite opens up from Beiert's gentle atmosphere to a floating sensation created by voice and guitar. Breezy electronics segue into a sensual, hold and release guitar sequence before the breeze carries us again to an allegro movement. Beiert's tasteful electronics continue to provide the divisions between the movements where solo guitar 'sketches', vocal and guitar 'ghost stories' and synthesised links are spun together in a transcendental whole. Some of Steve Hackett's acoustic guitar albums could be brought to mind but for the difference which Anne Taft's ethereal soprano vocalisations bring to the plot and the careful structuring of the suite. A Samuel Beckett poem is the only spoken or sung part on the album in the final movement of the suite, Taft's voice being used for atmosphere and emphasis elsewhere.
"Ghost Tango" follows the style of the main suite to a large extent with slightly greater use of rhythm and percussion in the composition bringing it close to Hackett's approach on Voyage of the Acolyte and elsewhere. "Volk" is a brighter piece with Anne Taft softening her vibrato and carrying the beautifully picked classical guitar along. Sketch 5 closes the album in a languorous solo guitar, heavy on the fingering effect. For those looking for 'rock' though you won't find any here as the album could better be placed in contemporary classical rather than a progressive rock catalogue. The album is available through www.cdbaby.com.
1. Ghost Story Suite
2. Ghost Tango
4. Sketch 5