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Robert Hodds "RJH" (Norwich, UK)

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Big Red Spark -CD+DVD-
Big Red Spark -CD+DVD-
Price: £16.72

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TBRS Rocks, 30 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Big Red Spark -CD+DVD- (Audio CD)
Although Tinyfish are tagged a "prog" band (whatever that means), their music is resolutely song-based, fresh and original without falling into the myriad traps that await other practitioners, or indeed listeners, of the genre.

In truth, "progressive" describes a mindset rather than a musical genre, with space for just about anything, and Tinyfish fit in brilliantly. On this album, the production values have taken a big step forward compared to their last full studio album, with drums, guitar and vocals all benefiting from a fuller and more upfront delivery, underpinned by monumental bass work. It sounds HUGE, and really brings to notice the talent of the three musical protagonists.

The band itself is made up of four friends who, in various guises and in various forms, have been together since their youth in and around South London. All are accomplished performers who have learnt their trade the traditional way, through relentless gigging. In The Big Red Spark, this shared apprenticeship pays dividends, and then some. Make no mistake; this is the album of their lives.

In turns full throttle hard rock ("Rainland"), contemplative balladry ("I'm Not Crashing") and steaming swamp-blues ("Weak Machine" - my personal favourite), Tinyfish wear their influences on their sleeves but filter it all through a sound definably their own - the mark of all great bands.

Overarching the entire musical journey is the narrative thread of the Inventor who creates a machine that links the entire human race together through their dreams and onwards to Armageddon (possibly). As with all good concept albums, the story is both literal and interpretive and whilst not entirely unique (a good comparison would be Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds), dishes up a believable context and a real "visual" dimension to the music and the songs.

This might be a recipe for disaster ("prog" is littered with badly executed and naff "concept albums") if it wasn't for the fact that the songs and story weave around each other in a supremely stylish way. There is a real flourish and sense of theatrical timing in the way that the band have utilised narration, music and sound effects to great dramatic effect, particularly in the almost terrifying climax of the story in "Activation" and "The Final Act".

If ever an album leant itself to a film or play dramatisation, it is this one; like The Wall, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that in future, presentations of the music and story will be performed in schools and theatres. It really is that good.

The album proper ends with a 10 minute song (so it IS prog after all !) that never outstays its welcome, and acts as a superb denouement and come down after the breathless musical journey that precedes it. Initial copies of the album are bundled with a free DVD containing another 4 new tracks and a filmed interview with the band.

Tinyfish aren't just one the of the best prog bands in UK, they are one of best bands in the UK, period. Already fully deserving of the 9 out of 10 review by Geoff Barton in the respected magazine, Classic Rock, The Big Red Sparks oozes class and crossover appeal and if ever an album deserved to break a band into the next level (or ten) of sales and recognition, it is this one. Buy it. You won't regret it.

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